Anyone curious about the legislators’ oath of office?
Didn’t think so.
But you might be, given the Legislature’s refusal to adequately fund schools.
Here’s what they pledge:
“I, _____________________(type or print name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same and defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office of ______________________ (name of office) ________________________ according to the best of my ability, so help me God (or so I do affirm).
(signature of officer or employee)”
Good to hear, right?
Our guys and gals in the Legislature will “support the Constitution and the laws of the State of Arizona.”
Except, of course, when they don’t.
Like now. With a law created by a public vote way back in 2000. A law that Republican legislators, anyhow, chose not to support for five years.
The law? Proposition 301, which raised the sales tax by 0.6 percent and required the Legislature to add to school funding by almost 2 percent yearly, allowing for inflation.
But in 2009, our Republicans decided to ignore that, and swept the inflation funding from schools to help balance the state budget.
This continued until this school year, when the Republicans added $74 million for inflation.
So our Republican legislators violated their oath of office, choosing which laws they want to follow and which one they didn’t.
In fact, they might still be violating their oaths, except for the lawsuit some school districts brought against them.
A lawsuit that has been repeatedly upheld, even by the Arizona Supreme Court.
But Republicans — led by the East Valley’s own Andy Biggs — have continued to fight it.
Which, of course, leads to this irony: Biggs and Company use our money to keep our money from going to our kids’ schools.
At least $330 million this year, slightly more than the $74 million actually provided.
So even when the Republicans pretend to follow the law, they really don’t.
And never mind that they haven’t funded school repairs adequately for years, a responsibility they assumed in 1998. Currently, according to the Arizona Republic, Republicans provide only 1 percent of the funding schools should receive.
And the Republicans have continued to shortchange schools with funding for things like textbooks, transportation and materials.
So what does all of this mean?
School districts around are state — thanks to the Republicans — scramble their budgets to take money from one place and spend it in another.
And despite what the governor and the legislative Republicans would like you to believe, the Legislature’s own scoring group has reported that this year’s Republican state budget, when adjusted for inflation, actually funds our schools at $1,000 less per pupil than in 2008.
The governor has repeatedly said he wants a “first-class education system in our state.”
Message to the governor: Talk to your fellow Republicans in the Legislature. Ask them to review their oath of office. And then have them follow the law.
• Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.