Arizona Senate Education Chairman on Education Funding

By Sylvia Allen

Sylvia Allen

Senator Sylvia Allen

As we have come out of the recession and revenues have increased we have put that money into education.  We Republican Legislators support Teachers raises and that will be reflected in our budget.

The problem is that Left’s propaganda machine supported by the mainstream media, encouraged by school administrators, has given this false impression that we are somehow hostile to education when that is totally not the truth.  Also, we do not micromanage the dollars they are given to local school boards and they create their own budget.  Teachers do not work for the Legislators they work for local school districts and charters who determine their salary.

The Legislators only have the money the economy creates.  We can’t print money.  What we are being pressured to do is raise taxes on everyone.  This is not necessary; our revenues are increasing and as they do so we put that money into education.  Look at the information below.

The walkout is not necessary but only counterproductive.

2018

  • Even before state budget has been finalized, legislators have committed $667 million in yearly education funding
  • This is the result of a bill that continues an additional .06 cent tax
  • Prop 301 ends in 2021, and this bill will keep that money flowing to education
  • In addition, the bill also shifts $64 million from a debt service program to another fund dedicated to teacher pay

2017

  • Arizona public schools received more than $350 million in additional dollars for Fiscal 2018
  • The budget included nearly $80 million for inflationary increases
  • $84 million was added for enrollment growth
  • $21 million in new money went to special needs and charter schools
  • Teachers saw a 2% pay raise over 2018 and 2019, totaling $68 million
  • That money committed for 2019 will obviously be greatly increased in our new budget for this year
  • The best performing schools were rewarded with more than $37 million in ongoing formula funding
  • Early literacy programs received $8 million in 2018 and $12 million more in 2019
  • Legislature committed an additional $17 million for school repairs
  • Nearly $63 million was devoted to new school construction projects
  • An additional $38 million was set aside for 2019 new construction

2016

  • Proposition 123 was approved by legislators and sent to the voters
  • It injected $3.5 billion over ten years into the K-12 education system
  • In addition to the massive infusion of new dollars, the Legislature added more than $200 million in additional dollars
  • The budget included $132 million in new formula funding
  • An additional $31 million went to schools adjusting to current-year funding
  • An additional $30 million was appropriated to the School Facilities Board
  • $6.5 million went to the phase-out of the multi-site charter school weight
  • $1.2 million was dedicated to the phase-out of district-sponsored charter schools
  • $46 million went to new school construction
  • $29 million went to Joint Technical Education Districts

Year to Year Comparisons

General Fund Budgets                   2008                          2018

K-12 Education                           $3.95 billion            $4.23 billion       7% increase

Total budget                                $9.94 billion            $9.86 billion       1% decrease

Agency share of budget                   40%                           43%

2013                         2018

State only funding                       $4.09 billion           $5.33 billion       30% increase

Poll: Support For Ducey’s Teacher Raise Plan Holding Steady

Data Orbital

By Data Orbital

(Phoenix, AZ) As a follow up to our poll released this past Tuesday, April 17th, and with a possible teacher strike beginning tomorrow, it is clear that Arizona voters are still supportive of the plan put forward by Governor Ducey. These same voters have also largely heard of and are positive towards the Red for Ed campaign.

Data Orbital commissioned this poll beginning Wednesday, April 18th and ending on Saturday, April 21st, as voters have been learning more details around the Governor’s plan to increase teacher pay by 20%.  Our live caller poll found that a vast majority of Arizona voters continue to approve of the Governor’s plan.  In addition, almost 50% of voters surveyed also have a positive opinion of the Red for Ed campaign.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to give a 20% pay raise to teachers?

The support for the plan continues to be consistent along party lines.  Democrats are still most likely to favor the Governor’s plan, coming in at nearly 75%.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to give a 20% pay raise to teachers? Breakdown by Party Registration

The poll found virtually no difference between males and females in their approval of Governor Ducey’s plan.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to give a 20% pay raise to teachers? Breakdown by Gender

Support is also fairly consistent across age demographics with the highest support coming from those between 18 and 34 years of age.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to give a 20% pay raise to teachers? Breakdown by Age

Support is highest among those who have voted in at least 3 out of the last 4 general elections and lowest among those who have no previous history of voting in general elections (they made up only 3% of the sample).

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to give a 20% pay raise to teachers? Breakdown by Voting History

As mentioned above, the Red for Ed movement is fairly well known with nearly 60% of voters familiar with it and only 29% certain they hadn’t heard of it.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Have you heard about the Red for Ed movement started by Arizona Educators United?

It is not surprising that Democrats are more likely to have had positive exposure to the Red for Ed movement while Republicans have the highest negative sentiment towards it. As was mentioned above, most samples were collected prior to Red for Ed announcing their strike.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Have you heard about the Red for Ed movement started by Arizona Educators United? Breakdown by Party Registration

Women are also more likely to have a positive opinion while men are more likely to be negative in their opinion.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Have you heard about the Red for Ed movement started by Arizona Educators United? Breakdown by Gender

There also is a clear age correlation towards the overall exposure to Red for Ed. Older voters who don’t have children in K-12 are much more likely to be unfamiliar with it while younger voters with school age children have a higher positive exposure.

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Have you heard about the Red for Ed movement started by Arizona Educators United? Breakdown by Age

Demographics

Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Demographics - Gender and Age
Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Demographics - Party Affiliation and Roll-Up
Data Orbital AZ Statewide Poll Demographics - Ethnicity and General Vote History

George Khalaf, President of Data Orbital, issued the following statement: “It has been nearly a week and a half since the Governor announced his teacher pay raise plan and support has largely held steady with likely voters. These same voters tend to have positive views of Red for Ed, with support predominantly along partisan lines.”

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This poll of 700 likely general election voters was conducted through a live survey that collected 50% of the results from land lines and 50% from cell phones. It has a margin of error at plus or minus 3.64%, with a 95% confidence interval. Respondents were weighted on a number of different demographic figures based off historical general election turnout in Arizona. The poll was conducted over four days from April 18th-21st. Toplines and demographic data can be found here and cross tabs here.  To receive regular blog updates, subscribe here.

Goldwater Institute: Who Is Really Responsible for Teacher Pay?

by Matthew Simon

West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona have all been mired in a teacher pay debate, but one question is rarely asked or answered: Who is really responsible for teacher pay?

In states across the country, the clamoring for increased pay has been well-coordinated, and the demands are costly. Teachers in West Virginia left their classroom posts for nine days, and teachers in Oklahoma rounded out their first week out of the classroom. Teachers in West Virginia returned to their classrooms after receiving a 5 percent pay increase and teachers in Oklahoma still walked out of their classrooms after receiving an average increase in pay of $6,100, demanding that it be $10,000. In Arizona, this has been dubbed the #RedforED movement. Teachers in one school district shut down nine schools in a coordinated “sickout,” and more are purportedly planned to come. Arizona Educators United and the Arizona Education Association have outlined demands in order not to abandon their classrooms, which was agreed to under their contract. Among these demands include a 20 percent teacher pay raise, which could cost Arizona taxpayers approximately $680 million in the first year alone, not including the annual inflation adjustment. Their total funding demands, according to some estimates, reach into the $5 billion figure.

The debate over teacher pay reached new heights in Arizona when the Legislature passed a 2.12 percent teacher pay increase over two years on top of all of the other funding put into schools in 2017. This pay raise was outside the norm and is not how schools are funded in Arizona. It created cumbersome language to ensure that the dollars went to the intended recipient. Not only was this just bad policy because the state doesn’t fund teachers (it funds students), but also because it reinforced this idea that state lawmakers dictate what teachers’ salaries are.

What is far too often left out of the conversation are locally elected school district governing boards. These independently elected governing boards wield considerable power in their positions by creating policies, crafting school district budgets and setting teacher pay. Collectively, these school district governing boards allocated over $8.7 billion during the 2017 school year. Because of this local management of dollars, the Classroom Spending Report produced by the Auditor General becomes increasingly informative. The Auditor General puts school districts into operational efficiency peer groups by the size, type, and geographic location of school districts.

According to the 2017 report, Tempe Elementary School District (TESD) and Alhambra Elementary School District (AESD) were in the same operational peer group. Both served a similar number of students, and they are elementary districts in urban areas. However, when you look at teacher pay and revenues generated per student, it becomes clear how local decisions can have a huge impact on teacher pay. TESD received, on average, 25 percent more per pupil than AESD but paid its teachers almost 30 percent less, on average.

TESD AESD
Students 11,049 12,524
Schools 21 14
Per Pupil $11,512 $8,562
Teacher Ratio 15.1 20.6
Avg. Years 9.3 10.4
Teacher Pay $40,899 $58,362

This isn’t the only example. Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) has been the subject of much media attention. In fact, one of the teachers within the school district posted her pay stub on social media. Her annual salary: $35,490. How could a teacher with nearly 10 years of experience and a school district that receives $10,501 per pupil be paid so little? It becomes even harder to comprehend when compared to Gilbert Unified School District (GUSD). Again, the Auditor General put these two school districts in the same operational peer group. GUSD received 16.9 percent less per pupil than PVUSD, but it was able to pay its teachers 5.5 percent more.

PVUSD GUSD
Students 30,741 33,808
Schools 44 40
Per Pupil $10,501 $8,720
Teacher Ratio 17.4 17.8
Avg. Years 12.7 11.9
Teacher Pay $48,299 $51,125

And just to make the point abundantly clear, Balsz Elementary School District (Balsz) and Tolleson Elementary School District (Tolleson) show a similar trend. Tolleson receives 24.5 percent less than Balsz per pupil, but it is able to pay its teachers, on average, 13 percent more.

Balsz Tolleson
Students 2,315 2,980
Schools 5 4
Per Pupil $11,998 $9,049
Teacher Ratio 17.7 19.6
Avg. Years 8.9 9.6
Teacher Pay $44,954 $51,705

If Arizona teachers and the public have a gripe with elected officials, the elected officials they should be targeting with this anger need to be their locally elected school district governing boards. The comparisons make it clear: It’s about how those dollars are spent. When a school district governing board prioritizes teacher pay, teacher pay is higher. If the Legislature were to meet the multi-billion dollar demands of #RedforED, there is no guarantee that those dollars would get where they were intended to go. Instead, these teachers and the public should be attending their local school district governing board meetings, examining their budgets, and holding them accountable.

This article can be read here.

Matthew Simon is the director of education policy at the Goldwater Institute. 

Meet Commissioner Justin Olson

Last October, Governor Doug Ducey appointed Justin Olson to the Arizona Corporation Commission in confidence that he would serve with ethics and integrity.

Since his appointment, Olson has enacted rate reductions that have lowered our electric bills. He has a long history in Arizona and really cares about serving ratepayers. He’s passionate about tax policy and is already bringing the kind of tax savings home to us.

Justin Olson is able to do this because he brings experience and expertise that the commission has never had before. He earned an MBA from ASU and understands business and finance. Olson also served in the Arizona Legislature where he worked to balance the budget without increasing debt, using gimmicks or raising our taxes.

Justin Olson is a true conservative who is looking out for Arizonans. After viewing this video you will see why he is the real deal and is acting in our best interests. Olson represents us and is sincerely looking out for Arizona ratepayers.

If you’d like to learn more about Commissioner Olson, check out his website at votejustinolson.com

Free Firearms Training for Arizona School District Officials

Gunsite

Gunsite Academy Inc., the Nation’s oldest privately owned and operated civilian firearms training academy, is saddened and angered by the violence in our schools.

Our mission is “. . .  to provide good people with the skills by which they may conduct themselves as responsible citizens of a free Republic.”  We recognize that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.   Proper training is crucial to achieve the objective of keeping our young people safe in their schools.  It is crucial that we recognize that local leaders must be the impetus of changes in the safety and security policies in our local schools.

To further positive changes of the safety and security in our Republic’s schools, Gunsite will offer a free five (5) day 250 Pistol Course (tuition) at our northern Arizona training facility to School Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, and School Board Presidents.

Our hope is that we educate these policy makers and help them formulate programs within their schools to train and arm their teachers to better protect our youth.

Those wishing further information should contact Gunsite Chief Operating Officer Ken Campbell at (928)-636-4565 or Ken@gunsite.com.

Very Respectfully,

Ken Campbell

Sheriff Ken P. Campbell (Ret.)
Chief Operating Officer
Gunsite Academy, Inc.

View press release here.

Mesa Councilman David Luna Needs To Hear From You!

Since this is my blog, once in a blue moon I’ll ask a point of personal privilege. On this occasion, I’m posting on a specific neighborhood issue in Mesa.

Would you rather have warehouses, restaurants, apartments or homes?

I’ve held off making this post until I’ve had some information and facts on the issue. It’s time to spread the word and take some action.

The City of Mesa stands ready to approve or reject a plan to develop single-family homes on the southwest corner of Thomas and Recker Roads. The developer, Desert Troon and Wendell Beck, have already received approval from the Mesa Planning and Zoning Board to rezone the land from multi-use to residential but the Mayor and Council must sign off on the P&Z Board’s final recommendation. That meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 5th.

Typically, when the Council hears a planning and zoning item, the council defers to the councilperson who represents the area of the proposed item. In this case, that would be Councilman David Luna.

Last week (Tuesday, February 13), I reached out to Councilman Luna’s office requesting his position on the plan to develop the Thomas and Recker parcel. I asked for his thoughts and how he intends to vote on P&Z’s recommendation. One week later, I have not heard back from Councilman Luna.

I also asked my contact at the Red Mountain Social Club if a recent visit by Councilman Luna revealed anything about his position on the property. At their meeting on February 8th, Luna said that he opposed the rezoning and prefers to see the land kept multi-use with light commercial and restaurants on the property.

During the Planning and Zoning meeting, City of Mesa’s Economic Development Director, William Jabjiniak, pushed for the area to become class A offices and warehouses. He even disclosed that he is pushing for the construction of warehousing of up to 150,000 square feet so that Mesa can attract more industry to northeast Mesa. Jabjiniak believes the Planning and Zoning Board erred in its decision to rezone the parcel to single-family residential.

I also spoke with a neighbor in Red Mountain Ranch that also confirmed Luna’s position on the rezoning and what should be built on the land.

Those opposed to rezoning the land for homes fall into two camps. A small handful of Red Mountain Ranch residents want the land to remain vacant. the City of Mesa wants to build more offices, warehouses and light industrial on the land. Multi-use also means that high-density apartments could also be built on the land. You don’t have to look far to see what happened on the southwest area of Las Sendas where townhomes, a long-term care facility and a charter school are being built.

Because the owner of the property has sat patiently for twelve years, it’s highly doubtful that the land will remain vacant. Something will be built.

I’ve spoken with the owner and confirmed that other developers have approached him about building apartments. He told me that his goal is to build single-family homes in a secure gated community. Those plans are solid and even have a name – The Villas at Red Mountain.

Villas Red Mountain

I recognize the fact that the land will be developed and there are really only two choices – multi-use or residential.

If David Luna gets his way, the southwest corner of Thomas and Recker Roads will be turned into offices, restaurants, light industrial and maybe even apartments. Like many of my neighbors in Red Mountain Ranch, I believe this is the wrong place to build out more office space and warehouses. That area remains south of the 202 as part of the Longbow plan. Incidentally, during the P&Z meeting, Jabjiniak revealed that the large concrete building across from Boeing on Higley has no tenants or prospective tenants.

The choice is clear, the Mayor and Council should approve the final recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Board. The southwest corner of Thomas and Recker Roads should be developed as a quality single-family residential community. The Mayor and Council should sign off on the development of The Villas at Red Mountain.

Now it’s your turn.

Please call, email, write or visit Councilman David Luna’s office and ask him to approve the plan to rezone the land for single-family residential. Tell Councilman Luna that you don’t want to see or hear tractor trailers and fast food squawk boxes across the street at all hours. This area is right for only one type of development and that’s a quiet high-quality community.

I’d also ask you to contact Mayor John Giles and ask him to support our quiet residential community of Red Mountain Ranch.

Again, the Mayor and Council meet on Monday, March 5th at 5:45 to hear the rezoning case. The Planning and Zoning Board made the right decision when they approved request to rezone.

Please call Councilman Luna and Mayor Giles and ask them to support the plan to rezone. Then plan on attending the council meeting at 57 E 1st Street (map) at 5:45 on Monday, March 5th.

You have less than two weeks to make your voice heard!

Councilman David Luna
(480) 644-3771
district5@mesaaz.gov

Mayor John Giles
(480) 644-2388
mayor@mesaaz.gov

For information about the plans for The Villas at Red Mountain, visit their website at VillasAtRedMountain.com.

Speaker JD Mesnard Announces New Committee Assignments

Javan D. Mesnard

Speaker Javan Mesnard

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-17) today announced several House committee assignment changes and additions.

Representative Tim Dunn (R-13) will take the place of Representative Mosley (R-5) on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and also serve on the House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Committee; and the House Land, Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.

Representative Dunn has expertise in agriculture and natural resource issues and represents a rural part of the state, so I know his extensive experience will have a positive impact on his committees,” said Speaker Mesnard.

Also, due to the assignment of Representative David Livingston (R-22) as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Speaker Mesnard announced that Majority Leader John Allen (R-15) will take the place of Representative Jeff Weninger (R-17) on the House Banking & Insurance Committee, and will also serve as chair of the committee for the remainder of the session.

Additionally, Representative Becky Nutt (R-14) and Representative Mark Finchem (R-11) will swap assignments on the House Land, Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee and the House Federalism, Property Rights & Public Policy Committee, with Representative Nutt assuming Representative Finchem’s duties as vice-chair.

Justin Olson, Looking Ahead for Ratepayers

Justin Olson

Justin Olson

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson believes Arizona ratepayers should benefit from federal tax reform. For Olson, that means Arizona utility companies should pass their tax savings on to Arizona ratepayers.

Recent federal tax reform has resulted in big savings to corporations here in Arizona. In fact, that reform lowered the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent leading to significantly lower expenses to utility companies. Olson, who serves on the Arizona Corporation Commission and oversees utility rates, wants to make sure those savings get passed on to you.

APS, Arizona’s largest utility provider, is already moving to lower customer bills by $119 million a year. Overall, that means an average saving to ratepayers of $4.68 per month. That’s a good start but it also means Arizona’s other utility companies must do the same. To make that happen, Commissioner Olson has asked that the full commission review and adjust rates downward for Arizona ratepayers.

Other commissioners are in agreement with Olson and taken steps to have other utility companies pass their tax savings on to you.

On Wednesday, January 31st, Commissioner Olson conducted a workshop to discuss the impact of federal tax reform on Arizona utility rates. A link to that workshop video and agenda can be found here. The video of the workshop is below.

Olson who has been an advocate for taxpayers for many years is leading by example. Arizona was the first to call for utility rate reductions and now other state commissions are following. It’s refreshing to watch conservative leadership remember who ultimately foots the bill and deserves to reap the benefits of tax reductions.

Thank you, Justin Olson, for your leadership and looking ahead for ratepayers.

 

Paul Boyer: Tax reform will help Ariz. small businesses, add jobs

Paul BoyerBy Paul Boyer

2018 is an exciting year for Arizona small businesses, which will be able to take advantage of a new 20 percent tax deduction associated with the recently passed federal tax legislation. These savings will not only benefit state small businesses, but employees, job seekers, and communities as well.

Arizona runs on small business. Our state is home to over 500,000 small businesses (defined by the Small Business Administration as employing 500 or fewer), helping employ nearly one million people. And these numbers are not unique to Arizona. Across the country, small businesses account for over 99 percent of all businesses and a net two-thirds of all new private sector jobs.

But despite the invaluable contribution small businesses had on the economy, for far too long, the structure of the old tax system actively worked against growth, with marginal federal rates reaching 40 percent. This over-taxation put small businesses at an inherent disadvantage.

Under the new tax law, a 20 percent deduction is established for all small business income less than $315,000, and non-professional service business income above that threshold. Roughly 95 percent of small businesses earn less than $315,000, meaning the overwhelming majority will benefit from the full 20 percent deduction.

Consider, for example, how this deduction would help an average Arizona small business earning $200,000 a year. This 20 percent deduction would protect $40,000 from federal taxation, freeing up much-needed resources to create jobs and raise wages. I am already hearing from dozens of businesses around the state about their plans to raise wages, hire employees, and expand with their tax savings.

This excess capital in the private economy will fuel economic growth. Contrary to popular belief, business owners will not simply pocket their tax savings. “They will follow the lead of their big business counterparts, hundreds of which, including AT&T, Comcast, and PNC Bank have used their tax savings to give workers bonuses or raise their wages, creating wealthier and more vibrant communities that touch nearly everyone.

We are even seeing specific examples of these savings here in our home state. Arizona’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service Co, announced its intention to reduce consumer bills, citing the lower corporate tax rate as the driving force behind the decision. These collective cuts could reach nearly $120 million, impacting over 25 million customers.

Arizona Public Service is giving the entirety of their tax cut back to customers. For families on a fixed income, these savings are crucial. They are able to live with a stronger sense of financial security thanks to the recent tax bill.

During my time in the Arizona State Legislature, I’ve encountered businesses longing to share their passions with the world. I witnessed humble business ventures transform into leaders of the Arizona business community. From my experience, a tax cut, like the one recently signed into law, would have done wonders in helping get these businesses off the ground. Now new businesses will finally get the relief they’ve needed for so long.

Tax cuts will give small businesses a lot to look forward to this year, meanwhile all Arizonans will reap the benefits.

Republican Paul Boyer, a high-school literature teacher, is chairman of the Arizona House Education Committee and represents Legislative District 20, based in Phoenix and Glendale. Email him at pboyer@azleg.gov

U.S. Rep. McSally Supports Landmark Increase in Defense Spending

Martha McSallyWASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Martha McSally today released the following statement after voting in support of the Bipartisan Budget Act:

“Today I voted with President Trump and Secretary Mattis to halt sequestration and increase defense spending. My vote is for our men and women in uniform who are relying on this boost in defense resources to carry out their mission and to keep us safe. Eight years’ worth of anemic defense budgets and neglect under President Obama’s defense sequester have thrown our military into a full-blown readiness crisis—and Secretary Mattis has made it very clear that, unless we pass a budget and fund the troops they will not have the resources to maintain their operations and deter war. That’s why, from the outset, I demanded that this bill include $700 billion this year and $716 billion next year for our troops to fulfill our military’s request—and it does.

This bill also dismantles another pillar of Obamacare: The ‘Independent Payment Advisory Board’—also known as the Death Panels and tasked with rationing Medicare.

We cannot hold our military hostage while we tackle other long-term spending and move towards fiscal responsibility. This landmark increase in defense spending will finally start to give our troops what they need to keep us safe.”