Gov. Doug Ducey, members of the Legislature and education stakeholders all deserve congratulations for their hard work in crafting, negotiating and passing legislation to provide some immediate money to schools this year while also guaranteeing an education funding stream for the next 10 years.
The compromise deal, which was signed by Ducey on Oct. 30, settles a long-running lawsuit against the state. In general, schools get $3.5 billion over 10 years, including some additional money as soon as next year. The Legislature gets the ability to start repaying the money it owes to schools, but also has the ability to temporarily suspend these annual inflationary payments if certain economic triggers are met.
It is a win for both sides in ending a five-year lawsuit. Although there is still work to be done, this deal puts us on the right path.
Just as one portion of this work is completed, another, much larger effort – which will include work from elected officials, business owners, teachers and community leaders – is just starting.
Without a majority “yes” vote on May 17 of next year from Arizona voters, all of this work will be for nothing. Schools will not see any of this funding, which they need and are owed. Legislators can’t pay this money to schools without voters giving them express permission to do so.
This is where you, the business leaders of this state, can and should help.
As the statewide “yes” campaign for this education funding deal – which will be known as Proposition 123 – ramps up during the next six months, I ask all Chamber members to support it, both as advocates and financially.
Kudos to Sharon Harper, CEO of the Plaza Companies, for leading the way by acting as Prop. 123 campaign chair. Chamber members should follow Sharon’s lead by reaching out to their employees, their children’s teachers, their friends and their professional networks to voice support for this deal. Our kids’ futures and our economy depend on a strong, appropriately funded education system that prepares them for the workforce they will enter.
While work on education funding remains – including restoring budget cuts to the university system and heading off budget cuts to joint technical education districts (JTEDs) in 2017 – we applaud the progress that this funding deal signifies.
We look forward to the opportunity to show Arizona parents in the coming months why voting yes on Prop. 123 is paramount as we also continue to assist Gov. Ducey in implementing the pillars of his equitably funded, school-choice driven and transparency-focused Classrooms First Initiative.