Republicans Pass Budget That Raises Teacher Pay by $1,000 Above Inflation

Republicans Pass Budget That Raises Teacher Pay by $1,000 Above Inflation and Invests Over $300 Million in New K-12 Spending

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-17) and Senate President Steve Yarbrough (R-17) this morning applauded passage of a budget that increases teacher pay by an average of $1,000 and adds over $300 million for K-12 education.

“Republicans in the Legislature and Governor Ducey have worked hard to craft a budget that reflects Arizonans’ top priority: education,” said Speaker Mesnard.  “This budget includes a $1,000 raise beyond inflation for public school teachers, over $300 million in new K-12 spending, a massive investment in university research facilities and infrastructure, and dozens of other provisions that boost education funding.”

“Conservative budgeting over the past few years put extra money in our state coffers,” said President Yarbrough.  “With that, this year we boosted teacher paychecks, provided funding for school repairs and the construction of six new schools, targeted tens of millions of dollars to schools getting results, guaranteed yearly funding for university building projects and provided an additional $30 million to repair our roads.  We also delivered a broad-based tax cut and left the state with a structurally-balanced budget.  I’d say the people of Arizona are better off because of this state budget.”

Highlights of the budget:

·         In addition to inflation and growth increases, directs $68 million over two years for an average $1,000 raise for public school teachers.

·         Appropriates $62.9 million for new school construction projects.

·         Provides $37.6 million for Results-Based Funding for K-12 education.

·         Offsets the impact of Prop. 206 on the developmentally disabled community by directing $45 million to the Department of Economic Security and AHCCCS.

·         Demonstrates a commitment to rural transportation by appropriating $30 million to the Highway User Revenue Fund.

·         Appropriates $27 million to provide debt service to allow universities to construct new facilities through bonding that could exceed $1 billion in value in future years.

Former Sen Jon Kyl: Let’s Debunk The Myth That Prop. 123 Will Hurt Us

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Former senator: I’m baffled by claims that Proposition 123 will do irreparable harm to Arizona’s permanent fund.[/pullquote]

I strongly support Prop. 123 and am baffled by opposition to it, most of which seems to claim it will do irreparable harm to the state’s permanent fund.

Jon KylThis simply isn’t true.

To help Arizona transition from a frontier territory to the 48th state, the federal government turned over to the new state about 11 million acres of land, to be held in trust for the support of public needs, the first and foremost of which was K-12 education.

The state accomplishes that role by selling and leasing state trust lands to produce revenue. The revenue from the sale of state trust lands are deposited into Arizona’s permanent fund. The money in the permanent fund is then invested by the state in stocks, bonds and other investments and produce additional returns.

We’re dipping into interest, not the fund

Arizona’s permanent fund is currently worth about $5 billion, and the trust earns money each year, with an average rate of return over 6.9 percent for the past 10 years.

Right now, 2.5 percent of the value of the permanent trust fund is distributed on an annual basis to beneficiaries like K-12 public schools. Voting “yes” on Prop. 123 would increase the distribution amount to 6.9 percent (roughly $342 million per year) from 2.5 percent (roughly $125 million per year) for a period of 10 years.

Given that the permanent fund has averaged a rate of return in excess of this proposed 6.9 percent distribution for the past 10 years, which includes the depths of this past recession, we should view Prop. 123 as an agreement to distribute the anticipated interest from the permanent fund to the trust beneficiaries – and not as an agreement to dip into the $5.1 billion corpus of the permanent fund.

Trust also includes $70 billion in land

We also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the trust is composed not only of the $5.1 billion in the permanent fund, but also of the value of the remaining state trust lands, which have a current estimated value of some $70 billion.

As urban growth has reached formerly outlying areas of state trust land, it stands to reason that this value will very likely increase in future years as expanding infrastructure and growth drive values to those lands.

Using $3.5 billion of that combined $75 billion of value over the next 10 years to help educate our K-12 kids is hardly a wasteful dissipation of the trust assets. Indeed, the combined values of the state trust lands and permanent trust fund should very well be even greater in 10 years based on current and expected trends. In any event, the myth of destruction of the trust needs to be exposed.

Why not put this cash to better use?

Prop. 123 does not mandate the sale of any part of the land being held in trust for K-12. That asset will continue to be managed in the best manner possible to provide for this generation of students as well as future generations.

Prop. 123 does put appropriate pressure on the state to ensure it performs its role in producing a quality revenue stream to support the intended beneficiaries of the trust, including our K-12 system.

Here is my question. From what do we get greater value: sitting on the assets in the trust (earning a bit), or investing $3.5 billion to better educate millions of Arizona kids today?

An educated citizenry is the best guarantee of economic growth and societal health. In other words, this human capital will be much more valuable for the state than keeping the assets in the trust, which is supposed to exist to help educate our youth.

In addition, this funding will also satisfy a legal obligation resulting from court decisions holding that the state government had not devoted sufficient appropriations to K-12 education in the past. Without Prop. 123, it is likely a tax increase would be necessary to meet this legal obligation.

Let us keep in mind that the trust was intended from the beginning to provide support for our K-12 system. Rather than allowing the trust to continue to underfund our current students, we should support Prop. 123 and put those funds to work in our classrooms now.

Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl is senior counsel at Covington and Burling in Washington, D.C. 

Prop 123 Proponents Make Their Case on Arizona PBS’ Horizon

Advocates for Proposition 123 appeared on KAET’s Horizon on Monday evening to make the case for passage of Prop 123. Here is the video of that show featuring Chris Thomas, General Counsel for the Arizona School Boards Association:

WATCH: Teachers Explain Why They Support Prop 123

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Today, we released our latest ad where teachers explain why it’s so important to support Prop 123.
If Prop 123 passes, $3.5 billion will flow into school districts across the state over the next decade.

This is all possible without raising taxes and it will provide students much-needed stability so they have every opportunity to learn, achieve and succeed.

But, these teachers and students need your help to ensure Prop 123 passes.

Please sign up to volunteer using the button below, to help spread the word about why it’s SO IMPORTANT to vote YES on May 17.

VOLUNTEER FOR PROPOSITION 123

 

Gov. Ducey’s Republican Education Plan Earns Support of AZ Democratic Party Leader

AZGOPBanner
Ducey Plan Solves One of Arizona’s Oldest and Most Politically Controversial Issues: Education Funding
PHOENIX – This morning Chairman Robert Graham of the Arizona Republican Party congratulated his counterpart, Arizona Democratic Party Chairwoman Alexis Tameron, on her announcement yesterday of her support of Gov. Doug Ducey’s Education Funding Plan. The measure, Proposition 123, will be on the ballot in May of 2016. If approved by voters it will increase K-12 funding by $3.5 billion over the next ten years.
 
“Governor Ducey is a true leader, and he’s put together a plan to address one of Arizona’s most difficult and controversial issues without putting more pressure on hardworking taxpayers,” said Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham. “Even the Democrat leadership knows a great leader with a great idea when they see one, and we’re happy to see more and more Democrat Party leaders acknowledge the hard work of our Republican legislature and Governor Ducey, and saying publicly they’re voting for it.”
 
“I want to thank the Chairwoman for publicly announcing her support,” Graham added.
 
Governor Ducey’s plan highlights are here:
 
 
Governor Ducey’s remarks upon signing the legislation to refer the plan to the ballot are here:
 
 
Arizona Democratic Party Chairwoman Alexis Cameron’s remarks, broadcast on 12 News’ “Sunday Square Off” on November 8th, will be available here:
 

Senator Sylvia Allen: Win, Win for Schools and Taxpayers!

Senator Sylvia Allen

Senator Sylvia Allen

I am proud of our schools in Arizona.  A number of our high schools are consistently ranked near the top of U.S. studies.  We were one of the first states to create charter schools and our Empowerment Scholarship Accounts allow parents to find the best education option for their children. These two reforms are models being emulated throughout the country.  I personally have toured and seen the excellent achievement of our students and teachers throughout my district.

Friday, October 30, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed an increase of $3.5 billion over the next ten years to our schools.  This will bring new money into our K-12 school system, if voters approve the plan in a special election to be held May 17, 2016.

Part of the funding will come from a new percentage level, 6.9%, distributed to the State Schools Fund from the Permanent Land Endowment Trust Funds (PLETF).  The Arizona Constitution determines the portion of investment earnings the Treasurer must distribute annually to each beneficiary.  Right now annual distributions are set at 2.5% of the average monthly market valuation of the PLETF from the preceding five years.  The voters will be asking to approve the increase above 2.5% in the May election.

Governor Ducey was State Treasurer before being elected Governor, so he understands this trust fund and how it functions.  In 2012 he developed Proposition 118, to move to a fixed rate of 2.5%, instead of a fluctuating rate used at the time.   Voters approved that proposal.

Three years later, the Governor proposed to increase that amount to 6.9%, and the Legislature agreed.  We spent much time in debate and talking to lawyers and staff about the ramifications of the increased percentage.  I am convinced that we have been short changing our schools all these years.  The PLETF is now valued at $5 billion and the consensus of those who voted yes is that we can safely pay this out to our schools and protect the principle of the fund.

Triggers are placed within the law in case we have another major economic downturn. It would require the Directors of the Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) to jointly notify the Governor, the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House that a reduction to the distribution is necessary to preserve the safety of the capital in the PLETF, if the value of the PLETF has decreased.  At that point we would return to the 2.5%.

This was a complicated issue that took hundreds of hours of work by all concerned, but I am confident that we have made a very good decision in increasing the payout from the State Schools Trust Fund.

The proposal also included increased money for schools from the General Fund.

  • Increases the per pupil amount by $173.26
  • Increases basic state aid by $248,829,400 in FY2016 by increasing the base level per pupil amount
  • Includes additional inflation of $74,394,000 in FY2016
  • Increases the Permanent State School Fund distribution line item by $172,081,000
  • Appropriates to the Superintendent of Public Instruction additional funding for school districts and charter schools of $50 million annually in FY2016 through FY2020
  • Allows flexibility for school districts to budget the additional funding to where they feel it is needed.

None of this will increase taxes for our citizens and is being done within the capacity of what we have now.  

We hear all the time how bad Arizona ranks in school spending, but those rankings can be very misleading. Other states have 95% of land privately owned and is part of the tax base. In Arizona, we are generating revenue from 13% private property. We will never raise revenues to the level of those other states.

Also, Arizona has a high population of those under 18 years of age and a large population of adults over 65 years of age.  In the 18-64 age bracket where the bulk of taxpayers reside, we have a proportionally small population, so again, we will never be able to reach the revenues of other states without significantly increasing taxes.

This ranking propaganda by our critics is designed to pressure taxpayers to fund more into our schools.  We are short changing our teachers and kids when we constantly focus on a ranking instead of results.   Funding is important but does not guarantee a good education that depends on parents, teachers, and, most of all, students.  

I wish to thank the Arizona taxpayer who is willing to give their hard-earned money to better the life of children through our education system in Arizona.

MBQF Poll: Joe Arpaio Has 50/50 Chance Of Re-Election

Also, Tested was School Bonds, Pot Convention and Education Tax

(Phoenix, AZ) — MBQF, a public affairs and consulting firm, announced results of a recent survey dealing with the nationally known, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who could be facing his toughest re-election battle yet.  We also looked at several other current issues in Arizona, primarily within Maricopa County.

In the most recent automated telephonic survey of 559 high efficacy voters in Maricopa County, conducted on October 19, 2015, the survey calculates a 4.14% theoretical margin of error, plus or minus in percentage points, 95% of the time.

The survey asked several questions of voters.  The first was a basic re-elect question regarding Sheriff Joe Arpaio, “Looking ahead to next year’s election for Maricopa County Sheriff, do you think that Joe Arpaio should be re-elected, or do you think that it is time to give someone else a chance?”

Arpaio Re-Elect Question
Results
Should be re-elected
50.45%
Give someone else a chance
49.55%

Party Breakdown

Republicans
Democrats
Independents/PND
Should be re-elected
53%
48%
49%
Give someone else a chance
47%
52%
51%

The second question was phrased, “Recently, the Republican Party of Maricopa County has decided to oppose ALL 28 school district overrides and bond ballot initiatives come this November.  Arizona is one of the lowest ranked states in the United States when it comes to education.  Would you consider the Republican Party of Maricopa Counties stance on these bonds as obstructionist or as fiscal prudence?”

County GOP-No on all Education
Results
Obstructionist
41.50%
Fiscal prudence
39.36%
No opinion
19.14%

The third question was phrased, “Given what you know about Arizona’s education system, would you be willing to pay slightly more generally in taxes to invest in Arizona’s Education System?”

Invest in Education System
Results
Yes
46.33%
No
39.18%
Unsure
14.49%

The fourth question was phrased, “The Phoenix Convention center will be hosting the “Southwest Cannabis Conference & Expo” at the end of this month.  Do you think that is a good idea or bad idea to host this event?”

Pot Expo – Good/Bad?
Results
Good idea to host event
36.31%
Bad idea to host event
29.52%
No opinion
34.17%

Michael Noble, consultant and pollster, issued the following statement:

“With Maricopa County voters split on whether America’s Toughest Sheriff deserves another four years, the data shows Sheriff Joe will have his toughest campaign ever.  Republicans, Democrats, and Independents are near evenly split.  In addition, a small plurality of county voters say they are open to paying more for education.  With most eyes focused on the Presidential election next November, Arizona voters have some big choices.”

For more information about this survey, or a summary of topline data and wording, please contact MBQF Consulting. The margin of error for this survey is +/-4.14%.

Andy Tobin: The Kirkpatrick Plan: Gut Our Schools

Andy Tobin

While Andy Tobin Was Joining With Democrats and Republicans to Protect Our Schools, Kirkpatrick Was Playing Partisan Politics

Andy Tobin today criticized Ann Kirkpatrick for failing to support a bipartisan solution he helped pass to protect our schools in Arizona and balance the budget, pointing out that under her plan, cuts to our schools would have skyrocketed.

Tobin was chief sponsor of Proposition 100, a bipartisan measure passed with 65 percent of the vote in 2010. The proposal, which Tobin sent to the ballot, was supported by a broad, bipartisan coalition including the education and business communities to protect funding for schools, public safety and health and human services.

However, Ann Kirkpatrick took a partisan approach and opposed the measure, offering no solutions to protect school funding during Arizona’s recession and budget crisis. In fact, even the Democrat who replaced Kirkpatrick in the state Legislature after she resigned to run for Congress, State Rep. Tom Chabin, voted with Tobin for this bipartisan, common-sense approach.

“I welcome a discussion about education and schools in this campaign,” Tobin said. “This race provides a clear contrast. As a father of five children who attended public schools, I’m proud to have helped lead bipartisan efforts to protect school funding, keep Arizona tuition low, provide additional dollars to our universities and community colleges, all while balancing our budget. I know Ann Kirkpatrick and her friends in Washington can print money, but in our state we have to act responsibly. When Arizona needed her, Kirkpatrick opposed our bipartisan plan to protect education funding and balance our budget.”

Scott Smith – Only Gubernatorial Candidate Who Supports Common Core

Of all the GOP candidates seeking the highly coveted governor’s seat, former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith doesn’t try very hard to hide is support for Common Core. Oh, sure, he’s fallen in line with the establishment’s politically correct makeover of Common Core’s name change. But he is on the record as being that one GOP candidate furthest on the left on Common Core and education in general. And he’s in good company and much aligned with those Republican legislators now in trouble for abandoning the Republican majority to support big government, democrat-supported policy shifts.

So why would a candidate who wants to win the GOP primary run furthest on the left from the rest of the pack? Maybe he’s received bad political advice. Or possibly Smith is so accustomed to running as an establishment candidate. Or perhaps he’s never run in an actual GOP statewide primary that requires firing up the base unlike a city election. One can only guess.

But the obvious observation is that Scott Smith is the more liberal candidate on education issues who is seeking the Republican nomination. And this stands out in his support for Common Core.

Here’s an excerpt from an answer he gave back in March at a Mohave County candidate forum when asked about his position on Common Core:

One blatant revelation is Smith’s condemnation of Arizona’s performance in education. For someone running to replace a Republican Governor with a state education system headed by another Republican, this is simply bad form to indirectly blame Republican executive leadership.

But is what Smith says about Arizona’s education system even true? Is Arizona really at the bottom of the list on all education measurements? The answer is it depends on what you’re measuring, when you’re measuring and who you’re measuring. Anyone can jump on the National Center for Education Statistics website, plug in the variables and see where Arizona ranks. It’s not impressive but then again, it’s not dismal as Smith suggests. Arizona has made tremendous strides when it comes to education reform in the charter and school choice movement – and its helping to our rankings but more important, it’s helping our children.

But Arizona does have a problem as we’ve pointed out before. We’re paying a ton of money into the system and not getting a good return on our investment. For example, Arizona roughly spends $8,900 per pupil (2013 ADE financial reports). With average classroom size set at 25, $222,500 should be designated per classroom (in the most direct sense). We know that there are other costs but even considering non-classroom related costs, we’re talking about a lot of money that should be going to the classroom that simply is not. That needs to be fixed and Republicans have been working on that for years despite voracious attacks by teacher unions every single session.

Common Core will make matters worse – a lot worse. With a federally driven, top-down approach to educating students, one can imagine what another federal program will do to waste money, time and the lives of our precious children. Scott Smith wants Common Core and he wants the same old big-government approach to educating our children. AIMS was a disaster. No Child Left Behind was a mistake and now Common Core is trying to dig deeper into Arizona’s education system. If Scott Smith gets elected, it will be business as usual and the education establishment wants it and expects it. The next governor of Arizona needs to push back against the Obama’s Department of Education and reject Common Core. Scott Smith won’t do that and its the reason we want you to reject Scott Smith for governor.

Our question is, if all the national conservative organizations (listed below) oppose Common Core, why would any Republican candidate running for Governor in Arizona support it?

Heritage Foundation

CATO Institute

Heartland Institute

Goldwater Institute

Family Research Council

American Enterprise Institute

Americans for Prosperity

Concerned Women for America

RNC-GOP Resolution regarding Common Core

ADM Drives Education Budget in AZ

– Gayle Plato-Besley

Do you have an elementary-aged child getting ready to celebrate the 100th day of school soon?  It’s coming you know, and never in the history of Arizona has it been more important.  For those that attended school in Arizona over twenty years ago, you might not remember the hoopla about DAY 100. Years ago, it was just another day: no parade or party full of spectacle.

Yet DAY 100  is all in the news  for it is the ADM drop off point: Average Daily Membership (ADM), or the driving data used to determine your child’s fate in regards to funds, makes everybody stand up and take notice.  Average Daily Membership determines money per student sent out to the schools. 

ADM is calculated based on the 100 day attendence record, averaging out the number of kids per class, grade, school and district.  This is the KEY to determining how much money goes out, and how much per student may get cut.  It is why we celebrate perfect attendance in schools; it is why I was up too late with my Kindergartener pasting 100 things and coloring by tens.  It was a good lesson for him, but then it’s a vital lesson for us all.

Arizona State Legislators are gearing up for a fun game of pass the buck.  Each passes off budgetary woes, and blames the incoming Republicans for what’s gonna hit the fan.  As the Arizona Republic deftly put out there today, (http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/01/16/20090116capitol-budget0116.html), the Republicans are out to get you parents, and cut all of the programs you like.  It’s their fault.  Sounds like high school girls whining when Dad takes away the cell phone after a huge bill comes in. Look for more woe in your district,  and definition of the budget as schools start to tabulate their piece of the shrinking pie.