The Legislature recently cut K-12 spending by nearly $200 million for the next fiscal year. It comes on top of a multi-year mugging of state support for public education. Five years ago, state K-12 funding was $650 million higher than it is this year.
Certainly, the recession diminished revenues and necessitated cuts. But the share of the burden expected of our public schools — and our children — is way beyond prudent public policy.
Meanwhile, the Republican-dominated Legislature increased by 50 percent the funding stream for private schools. Even after Gov. Brewer vetoed a bill to channel millions more into tax credits for donations to private schools, the Legislature snuck a new version into “omnibus” legislation passed in the all-night session just before adjournment.
Treatment of public education is just one example of how this Legislature is dangerously out of step with what Arizona citizens want. But Russell Pearce and his Republican super-majority get away with it, in part, because most of us remain silent.
It’s time to speak up for our priorities for state government. One opportunity comes Tuesday, April 26, at 6:30 p.m., when Legislative District 21 Democrats host a “Community Conversation” on state spending priorities. The meeting is in the old City Council chambers on the 2nd floor of Chandler’s downtown Public Library building.