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.

Big Spender Ken Bennett Says He Doesn’t Care About the GOP

By Rogue Juan

Ken Bennett recently announced he will seek the Republican nomination for Governor of Arizona in 2018.

Besides the fact that Ken Bennett is a bland and boring man who took 4th place in a run for Governor in 2014, he really isn’t a conservative.

Bennett was the Senate President during Governor Janet Napolitano’s reign. He was known to either be rolled by his own Senate members in support of Napolitano’s bloated budgets or to cave-in directly to Napolitano’s pressure. The Bennett/Napolitano budgets put Arizona in a world of financial hurt when the recession hit in 2008-2009.

But Napolitano bailed on her Governor’s post in order to head up Obama’s Department of Homeland Security.  Secretary of State Jan Brewer succeeded Napolitano as Governor and Bennett was appointed to Secretary of State where he served the remaining term and was re-elected to the post in 2010. Four years later, he pursued the Republican nomination for Governor.

In the past few years since leaving office, Bennett has unsuccessfully run for Governor (2014) and placed fourth in a  congressional race (2016) in a district in which he did not live.

After he lost the congressional primary, he publicly sought a government job from Governor Ducey and quietly, a position with Arizona House Speaker JD Mesnard.

Finding himself unemployed and a twice losing candidate, Bennett must now believe that a run for Governor may return him to political relevancy. Conservatives should be wary of Bennett. His record is not one he will easily be able to defend in a Republican Primary election.

Representative Finchem Applauds AZ Supreme Court Decision Overruling Tucson Gun Law

Mark Finchem

Mark Finchem

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Representative Mark Finchem (R-11) today expressed appreciation for the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision that Tucson’s controversial practice of destroying seized firearms is a violation of state law.

Between 2013 and 2016 the Tucson Police Department destroyed 4,820 guns, some of which were turned in by residents and others seized from crime investigations.

“It is a good thing that the City of Tucson will finally be held accountable for their blatant disregard of state law,” said Representative Finchem.  “Each citizen is expected to live by the law – for city officials to think they are exempt from state law is absurd.”

In 2013, Governor Brewer signed into law HB 2455, a bill that prohibits a city or town from destroying a firearm and requires them to sell any unclaimed firearms in their possession. Subsequently in 2016, Governor Ducey signed into law SB 1487, a bill that directs the Attorney General (AG), upon request of a member of the Legislature, to investigate any alleged violations of the Arizona Constitution or state law by a governing body of a county or municipality.

“The objective was never to punish, but to ensure observance of state law,” said Representative Finchem. “When public property is destroyed, taxpayers are ultimately hurt by the lost revenue.  Today is a victory for taxpayers and the rule of law.”

Robert Graham Seriously Entertaining US Senate Run

Former State Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party continues to fuel speculation that he will run for the US Senate in 2018.

In an interview with Scott Simon of NPR’s Weekend Edition, Graham told listeners, “it’s definitely not in the immediate plans…”

Robert Graham

Robert Graham

Graham then went on to criticize Senator Jeff Flake over his “stiff opposition” during the presidential campaign and now Flake being “openly against a lot of his [Donald Trump] agenda items.”

Robert Graham did stop short of acknowledging he will challenge Jeff Flake in the 2018 Republican Primary.

What gives this interview and potential Graham candidacy credibility is that it took place on a national radio show.

Timing is everything of course.

The recent announcement by Senator John McCain that he has a serious and aggressive form of brain cancer has already begun to create tremors across Arizona’s political landscape in anticipation of major seismic activity. An early retirement by Senator John McCain could lead to the appointment of his Republican replacement by Governor Doug Ducey. And that appointment could go off with a major shift in Arizona’s political tectonic plates.

Jeff Flake

Or not.

Governor Ducey could resign and cut a deal with his replacement Michele Reagan to have her appoint him to the position – an unlikely move.

Ducey could also appoint a sitting Republican congressman like David Schweikert (in a safe Republican district) or Martha McSally who may be defeated in 2018 (given the liberal demographics and volatility of CD-2). Either type of an appointment would result in a torrent of state senators, representatives or city officials released to fill that vacancy.

Perhaps the least tumultuous move could be the appointment of someone like Robert Graham.

Graham, who would have to run for the seat in 2018 alongside the other senate primary, would have the advantage of incumbency, an arsenal of Republican donors at his disposal and perhaps most importantly, the endorsement of President Donald Trump.

John McCain

John McCain (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP)

A Graham appointment also avoids a nasty Republican primary between Graham and Flake who have been political allies. Graham understands the formidability of the Flake machine and avoids that altogether in a parallel campaign.

That takes us back to the interview on NPR. Graham was very careful not to time stamp his answers. No one knows what Senator John McCain will do. Medical treatment takes time and the outcomes may give the senior senator more time to serve.

One thing is certain; Arizona political insiders are in uncharted waters in this political scenario because it has never happened with a US Senate seat here in Arizona.

Finally and most importantly, I want to offer my prayers to Senator John McCain and his family as he takes on another very tough battle. I wish him strength, courage and peace in the months and years ahead.

Non sibi sed patriae, Senator McCain.

Gov. Doug Ducey: Ex inmates in Arizona’s fire-crew program given a real second chance

‘I felt like a zero. Now I feel like a hero.”

That’s what an Arizona inmate said to me when I traveled to Navajo County in the summer of 2016. My team and I were up north observing the damage caused by the Cedar Fire and meeting the brave firefighters who risked their lives to protect our state’s landscapes.

The man I met was part of a group of inmates enlisted in a fire-crew program operated by the Arizona Department of Corrections. The agency’s program selects current inmates to fight fires throughout Arizona while serving their time in prison.

To me, the program is a way of letting these individuals pay back their communities and, by giving them a chance to be productive members of society, increasing the likelihood that they won’t return to prison after being released. Often, it means a job is waiting when they walk out the doors.

One squad boss who spoke to KOLD News 13 in April said that the program has “been a life-changing experience for me. I know a lot of the guys out here feel the same way.”

I told that story during my State of the State address in January, and I’ve thought about it many times since. Exchanges like this — and the positive outcomes we’ve seen from Arizona’s forward-thinking corrections efforts — are one of the reasons we’re investing more in anti-recidivism programs this year.

The next time a Sawmill Fire rages through Southern Arizona, threatening our neighbors’ homes, property, and livelihood, I want it to be easier for individuals released from prison to stand up and protect their communities.

That’s why the new state budget I signed a few weeks ago is investing $1.5 million to create a post-release fire crew. (The existing program enlists current inmates; the new program enlists released inmates.) We’re giving Arizonans a real second chance to turn their lives around in a meaningful and productive way.

Our anti-recidivism strategy is a win-win for everyone involved, including hardworking Arizona taxpayers. After all, it’s expensive to house inmates — and, according to the data, 39 percent of inmates released from prison will eventually return to prison. That’s a big bill to pay in the long term.

Taxpayers already give enough of their hard-earned money to government. They shouldn’t be expected burden the ever-growing costs of recidivism because of outdated policies.
This new fire crew accomplishes both: It protects taxpayers from long-term prison costs, and it improves public safety. And it’s not the only investment we’re making to make that happen.
Our fiscal year 2018 budget also finances the expansion of “Employment Centers” within Arizona prisons. These centers help inmates do things like build résumés and find jobs before they’re released, giving them tools to lift themselves up and build better lives rather than revert to their old ways.

This is a common-sense investment to reduce the state’s prison population and save taxpayers money.

So far, we have opened three of these successful Employment Centers, including in the Manzanita Unit in Tucson. All three centers are now open and operational, and we’ve already seen 35 individuals receive job offers after participating. (There are nearly 200 inmates currently going through the program.)

Our goal is to give people the tools they need to improve their lives, help them see value in themselves (maybe for the first time in their lives), and offer them a concrete way of paying back their communities.

Whether that means analyzing the effects of outdated occupational licensing processes on individuals with criminal records or enabling released inmates to work as peer coaches to help those struggling with addiction, our state is taking the lead when it comes to getting people back on their feet.

That’s how to give Arizonans a real second chance — and how to save Arizona taxpayers money while doing it.

This guest opinion originally appeared on Tucson.com.

 

‘School Choice Matters’ Ad Indicates Education To Be Top Issue In 2018

If you’re a Sunday Square Off viewer, you probably saw this political “thank you” ad air several times during the show. There was no “paid for” disclaimer but the ad was produced by the American Federation for Children.

The ad is airing to support and thank Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Legislature for passing and signing Senator Debbie Lesko’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) legislation. The law now expands school choice (although capped) throughout Arizona.

During final debate, opponents (primarily the Arizona Education Association) whipped up cataclysmic hysteria over the bill. Casual observers would have thought Arizona public education was about to be nuked into oblivion.

School choice advocates were probably caught off guard by the rapid rabid response.

Thus, the American Federation for Children realizing the need to recover the narrative and refocus the debate on children and parental choice, injected itself into the debate.

Anyone watching the warmup for Arizona’s 2018 election cycle can see that next year’s top political issue will be education.

And at the center of that debate, stand Arizona teachers.

Get ready. Every political candidate will position himself/herself as an advocate and “friend of teachers.”

The data proves that Arizona teachers deserve to paid more and if that means unclogging the pipes and removing the administrative clogs to get more money into the classroom, then so be it.

As the Arizona Legislature wraps up the budget and 2017 session, Governor Ducey and lawmakers are poised at an advantage in controlling the message heading into 2018. How they address direct delivery of tax dollars into the classroom, handing out teacher raises and elevating respect for the teaching profession will establish the battlefield for next year’s election.

Republicans have the opportunity to own and make 2018 the “Year of the Teacher.” If they seize the day, Arizona taxpayers, parents, teachers and children will win.

 

Guest Opinion: Arizona Board of Education Rubber Stamps Common Core for 7 More Years

State Board of Education Ignores  Governor, Parents, and own Policy and  Rubber Stamps Common Core for another  7 Years

After a raucous 2014 election year for the office for Superintendent of Public Instruction only 16,034 votes separated the outcome of the 2014 election results between Diane Douglas and David Garcia. One would like to suggest Douglas’ opposition to the top down federal one-sized-fits all standards helped ensure she was the victor. This was a coup for the parents who despised the unconstitutional federal outreach in their children’s classrooms – later only to learn the fox was in the hen house all along.

A quick history lesson on Common Core in Arizona. In 2010, the Arizona State Board of Education adopted Common Core standards for all public schools throughout Arizona. As these standards were being implemented, parents and practitioners alike started to have difficulty learning and teaching them.

This classroom battle came to a head in 2013 inciting a Republican primary challenge to then-Superintendent John Huppenthal who was fully engaged in implementing these standards that had to be rebranded to “college and career ready” due to public outcry.

Like so many top-down government mandates, implementing Common Core became a gravy train for special interests who only care about their profits, not about the outcome of our children’s future. These same corporate entities joined local business chambers to ensure they helped elect pro-Common Core candidates for local and statewide offices.

Meanwhile, grade school children who loved math started to hate math. Other children who loved writing, started to hate writing. Parents knew something was wrong.  In some instances, parents with higher degrees in engineering and math could no longer help their children with basic arithmetic homework.

As with the other 49 states, Arizona retains the authority to approve and modify its academic standards. More importantly, there is no federal law requiring the adoption of specific standards. Yet, 46 states originally adopted common core.

To address this, Governor Doug Ducey directed the State Board of Education (SBE) on March 2015. His direction was for the State Board of Education to “make right the situation…with full transparency.” Direction was given for “teachers and parents to bring [standards] forward together.”

In response, the Arizona SBE created a review process that included 17 members representing different sectors of communities across Arizona. Six of these members were parents from various parts of Arizona. This group was called the Arizona Standards Development Committee (ASDC), consisting of educational experts and parents. Its task was to recommend updated standards to the SBE per the Governor’s request.

However, for the past year and a half the standards were only being reviewed by “technical professionals” and lobbyists in closed-door meetings. These individuals were largely pro-common core individuals. Multiple requests were submitted to the Arizona Department of Education to include parents or people with opposing viewpoints, but these were turned down each time.

On December 14th, the ASDC was scheduled only 3 hours to review and possibly approve hundreds of standards. Up to this point, the ASDC had no substantive discussion on the standards and very little time to study the latest version of the standards.

After two and a half hours of presentations and public comments, the ASDC had 30 minutes to discuss and feel comfortable recommending hundreds of pages of standards. They were concerned that many issues with common core remained. Further, there was no evidence that hundreds of public comments were received or one standard changed by public comments. Many of the ASDC were concerned.

Thus, the parents requested additional time to discuss the standards and voted 8-7 vote to delay approving any current recommendation of these newly revised standards to the SBE until at least January 2017.

It should be noted that the clear expectation from ADE and the SBE staff was for the ASDC to rubber stamp the draft and not ask too many questions. At the same time, the Executive Director and President of the State Board of Education posted an agenda item on the SBE’s December 19th  agenda for the SBE also to rubber stamp the standards. Most of them had never read these “new” standards in any substantive detail.

On December 19th, the SBE shocked the public and the ASDC by rubber stamping the recommended standards. The request of the Governor to have standards brought forth by teachers and parents were largely ignored. Not one person in opposition appeared to speak in public because they trusted that the SBE would respect the direction of the Governor and the ASDC to do their job and recommend standards to the SBE.

In a shocking irony, the very person—Diane Douglas–who promised to “stop common core”, recommended the ‘revised’ standards; standards virtually identical to the common core state standards foolishly adopted by the SBE in 2010.

It is no wonder why President-elect Donald J. Trump is in line to become our next President. No one trusts the government. If a process is in place it should be adhered and there shouldn’t have a go-around if the vote doesn’t fall in your favor. Our Republic doesn’t exist to be overrun by bureaucratic tyrants.

As members of this subcommittee we waited patiently for the review and public commenting period to end. We welcomed proponents of these standards to our public meetings and only gave them the deepest respect at our meetings even though they didn’t always model the best public decorum they would want their children or students to convey.

We call upon Governor Doug Ducey to request that the SBE reconsider the vote; respect the public; and follow the process established.

We also call upon Governor Ducey to seat people on the SBE that truly respect the parents of our State who are deeply concerned with the direction of public education in our State.

Respectfully Submitted By

Scott Leska; Public School District Elected Board Member
Grant Peterson; Middle School Parent
Dr. Richard Rutkowski; Business Community Member
Olga Tarro; Elementary School Parent
Maureen Tozzi; Business Community Member
Shawnna Bolick; High School Parent

Arizona Political Leaders React to Trump Picks

President-Elect Trump has begun to name his government advisers and cabinets and Arizona politicians are weighing in on the future Trump Administration.

Arizona State Treasurer Jeff DeWit and COO to the Trump campaign took to the airwaves to touting the credentials of President-Elect Trump’s cabinet choices including Senator Jeff Sessions, General Michael Flynn and Congressman Mike Pompeo. Here is video of Treasurer DeWit’s appearance on FoxNews. DeWit may also be chosen to serve in the Trump administration.

US Senator Jeff Flake tweeted, “@SenatorSessions is well like and well regarded, even by those who don’t always agree with him. I look forward to supporting his nomination” upon news that Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will be nominated to President Trump’s Attorney General.

Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-3) joined the orchestrated Democrat opposition to Stephen Bannon by retweeting Rep David Cicilline’s push for a petition rescinding Bannon’s appointment as a senior adviser. Grijalva said, “Steve #Bannon made a career of conspiracy theories and hate speech online. He has no business serving in the White House, period.”

The most aggressive opposition to Trump’s picks have come from Rep Ruben Gallego who represents Arizona’s 7th Congressional District. Since Trump’s win, he has released a barrage of tweets following the typical Democrat talking points on hate, racism and tolerance. Gallego tweeted and retweeted:

“Appointing alt-right leader Steve Bannon undermines @RealDonaldTrump’s promise to ‘bind the wounds of division.’ #NoHateInWhiteHouse.”

“Hate in the form of white nationalism doesn’t belong anywhere near the White House. Steve Bannon’s appointment is appalling & disgraceful.”

“Hate & violence has no place in this country. I stand w/ the #trans community & will work for security&equality for all #TransAwarenessWeek”

Gallego also included a link to his speech on the floor of the US House:

On his Facebook page, Rep Gallego made the following statement regarding his role in playing opposition to Trump, even on common ground issues like infrastructure:

Given everything we know about Donald Trump – and everything we don’t know – I was alarmed by the words of senior leaders from both the progressive and centrist wings of the Democratic party regarding their openness to working with Donald Trump on infrastructure.

Under ordinary circumstances, a bipartisan infrastructure plan would be welcomed. But Donald Trump is not an ordinary politician.

Unfortunately, his infrastructure plan is really a privatization scheme, rife with graft and corruption, whose real purpose is to enrich the Trump family and his supporters. He is not reaching out. He is reaching his hand into America’s pockets, just as he has his whole career. And we must not let him do it.

And continuing his rant on Facebook, Gallego echoed his Twitter post with a link to the Democrat’s opposition letter:

Nobody with ties to White Nationalism should be allowed to work in the White House. Appointing alt-right leader Steve Bannon undermines Donald Trump’s promise to ‘bind the wounds of division.’ Today, I joinedCongressman David Cicilline and many of my House colleagues to demand that Trump rescind this appalling and disgraceful appointment.#NoHateInWhiteHouse

Former Governor Jan Brewer reposted an article on her Facebook page asserting that Trump’s picks for his immigration team, will be very tough:

Donald J. Trump has just appointed the head of his immigration team and it says a lot about how he plans to deal with illegal immigration…

The article, posted on Conservative Tribune, refers to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach who was the architect of Arizona’s SB1070. Kobach is known as a staunch advocate for border security and stopping illegal immigration. He has been asked to serve on Trumps immigration team.

Like many Arizona political leaders, Senator John McCain, Governor Doug Ducey, and other members of the congressional delegation have shied away from making social media comments on Trump’s administration choices. Many will continue to watch as the transition team puts people in place and an agenda into motion.

President-Elect Donald Trump will take the oath of office on January 20, 2017.

Christine Jones – Conservative Business Leader For Congress

When you want problems in government fixed, you send a businessperson to do the job. This has been the successful solution since the Founding Fathers set our country in motion and it’s still a successful strategy today.

Individuals from the business community know best how to balance budgets, deal with government regulations and most important, how to create jobs and prosperity.

Government does not create prosperity. Government sucks resources out of the economy, creates deadweight losses and does a horrible job of providing services that the private sector can provide much more efficiently. With the exception of certain public goods such as defense, law enforcement, justice, etc., government is a drag on the economy and a burden on the lives of free individuals.

Here in Arizona, we’ve seen an example of great leadership coming out of the private sector business community.

Governor Doug Ducey started his service in executive leadership in 2011 as Arizona State Treasurer. Prior to that, he started out as a successful entrepreneur and CEO who grew a small ice cream shop from the ground up into a nationwide franchise. Since elected as Governor, Doug Ducey has been successful reforming, consolidating and downsizing government and getting it out of the way of small businesses like Uber and Air BnB. Having a successful businessman in leadership is great for the economy, creating jobs and expanding technology.

Christine Jones for CongressNow the voters of Arizona’s Fifth Congressional District have the opportunity to elect a very successful conservative businesswoman to Congress.

Christine Jones has scored success wherever she has served. As the Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Go Daddy, she helped take the company from a small internet company to a giant corporation whose servers now touch one-third of all internet traffic. When she first began at GoDaddy, the company only had a few dozen employees. During her watch, she helped grow the company to over 4,000 employees – that’s over 4,000 private sector jobs contributing to the economy. And that doesn’t include the 10 million entrepreneurs and small businesses that have grown and prospered through GoDaddy’s products and services.

After leaving GoDaddy, Jones next went on to lead another Arizona success story when she accepted the position of Interim CEO of Great Hearts Academies. There, she oversaw the tremendous accomplishments of thousands of students on the road to college and successful careers.  This role also testifies to her strong understanding and commitment to education and how a quality education is inherently linked to jobs and the economy.

Christine Jones is no stranger to success. Unlike her opponents, who have spent their careers being assimilated into government and politics, Christine Jones possesses a healthy resistance to growing government and becoming another career politician.

This election year, the voters should take the opportunity to send another real Arizona success story to Congress. Christine Jones is a conservative business leader who has proven she knows how to grow small business, create thousands of jobs, control the growth of government and get government spending under control.

This August the voters have a real choice between a handful of career politicians or a successful private sector businesswoman in Christine Jones. Let’s hope they choose the latter.

Gov Ducey: Why Vote For Prop 123? Some Teachers Have More Kids Than Books​

Vote Prop 123

By: Governor Doug Ducey

This week, Arizonans will receive early ballots in the mail for one of the most important policy initiatives of this election cycle – the passage of Proposition 123 to increase funding for public schools in Arizona.

As many in our state know, there has been a dark cloud hanging over Arizona’s budget when it comes to funding education.

Our kids have needs today

Voting “yes” on Prop. 123 will settle a years-long lawsuit and put $3.5 billion into our K-12 public schools over the next 10 years without raising taxes. It’s time to stop paying lawyers and start paying teachers.

I’ve visited schools all across our state, and the message is clear. Our kids have needs today, and our educators need more resources to do their jobs.

Prop. 123 is a fiscally responsible, historic first step towards giving our students and teachers the resources they need. It puts money back in the classroom. And it doesn’t raise taxes. I know it sounds almost too good to be true: If this doesn’t raise taxes, how are we paying for it?

How it works

What many don’t know is that Arizona has a something called the State Land Trust – a fund with assets that have been set aside and invested for decades specifically to benefit education. This plan ensures we are managing the trust responsibly while putting the money to use for the purpose it was intended: funding our K-12 public schools.

So how does it work?

When Arizona became a state, the federal government granted our founders nearly 11 million acres of state land. Every time we sell a piece of that land, proceeds go into the Land Trust where the money is invested and earns interest. The trust has been growing rapidly in value – nearly doubling in the past five years. And now it is valued at more than $5 billion.

Currently, only 2.5 percent of the trust is distributed to schools every year. We can do better. A “yes” vote on Prop. 123 will increase the distribution rate to 6.9 percent for the next 10 years. That means we will be able to use more of this money for its intended purpose: funding our schools.

We haven’t ignored future needs

But this plan also takes into account the needs of future generations. An analysis done by the non-partisan Joint Legislative Budget Committee shows that even with the higher distributions if Prop 123 passes, there will be more than $6 billion in the Land Trust in a decade. That’s a billion dollars more in the trust after 10 years, even while we are increasing funding to education.

And let’s not forget: Arizona still has 9.2 million acres of land worth approximately $70 billion that are yet to be sold and fund the trust.

The bottom line is that passing Prop 123 ensures the long-term health of the trust, while injecting an infusion of resources into classrooms that have needs today.

When there are more kids than books

I’ve met with teachers and parents across the state, and they’ve made it clear — while reforms are important, right now they need resources to provide the excellent education all our children deserve.

Too often, I hear stories of teachers and parents spending part of their paychecks to ensure there are supplies in the classroom – even basic necessities like pens, pencils and paper. This is unacceptable.

Just a few weeks ago, I met a fourth-grade teacher named Maddy Sporbert who was volunteering for Prop. 123. She told me that she wants Prop. 123 to pass because right now she has 34 students in her class, but only 25 textbooks.

She was spending spring break — her vacation — getting out the vote for Prop. 123 to ensure her students have enough textbooks next year. She needs us to vote “yes.”

Good teachers are fleeing our state

Eighth-grade science teacher Paul Strauss told me that in his many years of teaching he’s seen countless dedicated teachers leave the profession because it is so hard to support a family on a teacher’s salary in Arizona.

We know teachers are fleeing our state or leaving the profession because of a continued lack of funding for education. Voting “yes” on Prop 123 will allow us to reverse that trend and start paying teachers what they deserve. In fact, school boards across Arizona have committed that boosting teacher salaries will be their number one priority if Prop. 123 passes.

Many districts even have two budgets: one if Prop. 123 passes, and one if it fails.

If it fails, that means more litigation and less certainty for our teachers and students.

Please join me, Mayor Greg Stanton, a bipartisan coalition of legislators, countless community and business leaders, teachers and parents in voting “yes” for Prop. 123 on May 17.