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Prop. 123 opponents resort to desperate tactics


Soon, Arizonans will have the chance to put badly needed funding into Arizona’s public K-12 school system and avoid additional taxes. Proposition 123, which will be decided by voters on May 17, settles a five-year education funding lawsuit filed against the state that threatens the entire state budget. It also can set Arizona on a new path that prioritizes our commitment to public education by giving districts the means to reward teachers who bring out the best in our children.

Opponents of this measure are resorting to desperate tactics. Prop. 123’s common sense alternative to taxes is a greater use of state land trust system. This asset has a combined worth of $75 billion, a majority of which resides in the value of our state’s millions of acres of unsold trust land. An investment portfolio with a current value of $5 billion is at the ready to help our schools, teachers, and students.

Matt Salmon

Matt Salmon

Prop. 123 seeks to withdraw roughly $200 million a year from this $75 billion asset that is continually growing through the sales of state trust lands and its invested returns. Our state trust lands, and the trust itself, exist for the very purpose of supporting public education. Still, some decry Prop. 123 as a “raid” of the trust and a crime against future generations of students. In reality, this “raid” amounts to spending $2 a year from a bank account with a $750 balance that will continue to grow.

The attacks against Prop. 123 unfortunately do not end with scare tactics over the financial health of a trust system that, to date, has only sold about 10 percent of the almost 11 million acres of land granted to Arizona more than 100 years ago by the federal government. While our children’s teachers must determine each year whether or not they can afford to continue teaching, Prop. 123 opponents are conjuring stories that Congress will punish Arizona if it exercises its right to spend its education money on education.

This fable stems from the claim that Arizona must beg the permission of Congress to amend the federal law that granted Arizona state trust lands when it entered the Union in the early 1900s. It ignores the fact that in 1999, the Arizona congressional delegation, including myself, amended this law to give Arizona the common sense authority to manage and invest state land trust assets to maximize the rewards for its primary, legal beneficiary: Our public K-12 schools.

As the father of a teacher, I know the commitment and sacrifice made by our public school educators. Starting salaries for teachers in Arizona are in the bottom 20 percent nationwide. As a result, our state continues to lose teachers at an alarming pace and it’s our students who pay the price. This state of emergency exists in rural and urban districts alike, including East Valley schools in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe, which will get the necessary funds to stabilize and improve their schools this fiscal year if Prop. 123 is passed by voters.

Prop. 123 is supported by a broad coalition of members of the education community, the business community, Republican and Democrat officeholders, and parents and teachers. Together, we can make a sustained and responsible investment in public education that benefits our teachers, students, and economy or we can continue along the path of uncertainty and instability for our public schools.

Join me in voting “Yes” on Prop. 123.

— Matt Salmon represents Arizona’s 5th Congressional District.





  1. OK, Congressman, I understand that a very broad coalition of education supporters as well as professionals support 123. I have been a vocal supporter as well. But the initiative is not without serious flaws, the triggers especially the change in our constitution, the use of the schools own money to pay them back, the fact that the State has the revenue now to resolve the lawsuit regarding the theft of the funds. The continued irresponsible and unsustainable tax cuts to “grow the economy” that hasn’t worked, the funding of Koch “think tanks” at our flagship universities, defunding Kids Care all combine to undermine our faith and confidence in our State elected officials – from the legislature through the Governor. I, and many others who support our public schools are afraid that the Gov and his ALEC leadership will continue to pay lip service to the people of our State and will continue to defund our public schools.

  2. Vote ‘No.’ This ill considered Proposition will, over time, decimate the funding used to partially support
    school funds. It is, simply, borrowing on a future, where funds will dry up…then what?
    It would be better to treat school funding in the same manner successful businesses are run, that it watch expenses in a much more focused manner than is now the case. There are too many aides, consultants, and administrator’s than are needed. Further salaries, and prerequisites, at the managerial level are inflated beyond what is reasonable and prudent. (Scottsdale Superintendent, base salary $245,000, vehicle, mobile phone, cadillac health benefits, large expense account etc.).

  3. Just another democrat approved boondoggle. If its supported by democrats it’s guaranteed to fail!
    Vote no on 123

  4. It’s actually a very Republican effort to raid the trust fund to avoid paying back monies that the legislature stole from our public schools.

  5. A friend who grew up on a farm in the Midwest told me recently of the advice that his father gave him as a boy. “No matter how bad things get, never eat your seed corn.” Prop 123 will eat our children’s seed corn. And, once the money is stolen from the land trust, it goes into the general fund where it will be used and abused by the legislature as it sees fit. If any of that money does find its way into schools, there is no requirement for accountability, so it will be used and abused by school boards as they see fit.

    Prop 123 is a horrible plan.

  6. I especially like how Mr.Salmon values the land trust at $75 billion…when only $5 billion is actually liquid.

    Further the 1999 Amendment only redefines the accounting methods for calculating the gains (or losses) of the fund. Principal may still not be liquidated.

    Typical slimeball AZ politics….tax the kids and give breaks to the businesses and cronies.

    Vored NO

  7. If all the money that was poured into promoting Prop 123 were instead spent on educating our children, we wouldn’t need to steal from the trust fund.

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