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:

Poll: Prop 123 Shows Strong Numbers With Early Voting Underway

Predictive Insights

Bi-partisan support for prop 123

PHOENIX (April 27, 2016) — Arizona’s special election for two statewide initiatives including the education bill, Proposition 123, will be voted on May 17th, 2016.

In a survey of 665 likely special election voters, 59.7 percent said they would vote in favor of Prop 123.

Prop 123 – Education Funding
April 25, 2016 Results
Definitely Yes 38.5%
Probably Yes 21.2%
Probably No 9%
Definitely No 24.4%
Unsure/Undecided 6.9%

“Early indicators show strong support for Proposition 123 across all demographics,” Mike Noble, Pollster & Managing Partner of OH Predictive Insights said, “It is surprising to see only 6.9% of likely voters are undecided which tells us voters are keenly aware of the measure.  If you hear someone talking about this next time you are in-line at the grocery store – don’t be surprised.”

Wes Gullett, Partner in OH Predictive Insights and political consultant was impressed that the Yes vote is strong across all demographics and was cautiously positive about the results. “Democrats, Republicans and Independents are all voting yes close to 60%.  However, with ballot measures typically the ‘No’ vote does a better than the polling on election day so the Yes side needs to have a strong turnout of supporters over the next three weeks,” Gullett said.

Methodology: This automated survey was completed by OH Predictive Insights on April 25th, 2016, from a sample of likely special election voters from across Arizona who first answered they were “likely” or “very likely” to vote in the 2016 May 17th special election in Arizona. The sample size was 665 completed surveys, with a Margin of Error of ± 3.8%

VIDEO: Parents are rallying behind Prop 123

Here is the latest ad by Prop 123 showing parents rallying behind the measure to get more money in their children’s classrooms.

Parents are rallying behind Prop 123 because it will put $3.5 billion into the classroom over the next 10 years. It will help Arizona schools pay teachers what they deserve and ensure our students have the resources they need in the classroom.
Share this video with a parent you know, so they know that a YES vote on Prop 123 is our best chance to improve our public schools.

WATCH: Get Out The Vote For Prop 123

Did you get your early ballot in the mail?

When you do, vote YES on Prop 123, and put it right back in your mailbox. If you plan to vote on Election Day, make sure you mark your calendar for May 17!

Why?

Prop 123 will put $3.5 billion into K-12 public schools over the next 10 years without raising your taxes. That’s money our kids and teachers need to succeed in the classroom.

Today, the campaign released a new video with parents, grandparents and teachers urging you to vote YES on Prop 123. It’s a common-sense solution that better uses our state land trust for its intended purpose: funding our public schools. And it protects the trust, which will still grow by $1 billion over 10 years if Prop 123 passes.

Can we count on you to vote YES on Prop 123?

Team Prop 123

Get the Facts on Prop 123

GetFacts123

Early voting has started, so we want to make sure you have the facts about Proposition 123 before you cast your ballot.  Prop 123 is a sustainable plan to fund K-12 education in Arizona and give teachers and students the resources they need.

Please forward this post to at least one friend or family member to make sure they have the facts before voting in the May 17 special election.

Get the facts below, visit YESProp123.com, or email contact@yesprop123.com if you have questions!

  • Prop 123 doesn’t raise taxes. Prop 123 uses additional dollars from the state land trust fund to give teachers and students the resources they need without raising our taxes. It’s a financially responsible and sustainable way to help our schools.
  • Prop 123 puts $3.5 billion into the classroom. This money will have a real impact over the next decade. It will give teachers and students stability and the resources they need to succeed.
  • Prop 123 gives local control to school districts. No one knows better where this money needs to go than principals, school board members, and teachers. Prop 123 will give individual districts control over the funds to ensure local decision-making and teacher input.
  • Prop 123 protects the trust. According to the non-partisan Joint Legislative Budget Committee, even with the higher distributions of funds from Prop 123, the state land trust will grow by over $1 billion over 10 years. The trust will continue to grow under Prop 123 so it can fund education for future generations.
  • Prop 123 keeps quality teachers. Teachers are fleeing Arizona because of a lack of financial support for education. This will reverse that trend and help pay our teachers what they deserve.

Learn more about why Prop 123 is a financially responsible solution in Robert Robb’s column, “Prop. 123 doesn’t bust the state land trust” below.

Thanks,

Team Prop 123

Sierra Vista Herald: Yes on Prop 123!

No tax increase
Sierra Vista Herald
04.18.2016

The bottom line? Prop. 123 will not cost taxpayers a dime while it pumps $3.5 billion into education over the next 10 years.

The money is coming from the State Land Trust — property deeded to Arizona by the federal government with the stipulation that when the state sells it, the money is used for education.

Gov. Ducey is proposing to do just that with his support of this legislation to change the State Constitution and accelerate the amount of money that can be allocated from the trust over the next decade. It is the closest thing to a guarantee for public education that it will receive at least 71 percent of the money Arizona schools were entitled to, before the State Legislature chose to ignore Proposition 300.

That “assurance” points to the most infuriating aspect of the debate on whether to check “yes,” or “no” on your ballot for the May 17 statewide referendum.

If state lawmakers had followed the provisions of Prop. 300, which Arizona voters approved in the 2000 election, the upcoming ballot would not be necessary. Instead, legislators in 2008 took money specifically allocated for education and spent it from the general fund to avoid increasing taxes during a national economic recession.

Public schools filed a lawsuit which after eight years since the funds were lost, advanced as far as the State Supreme Court, with the judicial branch in strong agreement that Arizona lawmakers owed as much as $1.3 billion to the education fund.

During that eight year span, public education in Arizona has spiraled to the bottom of national benchmarks. Compensation for teachers is among the lowest in the country, the ratio of teachers to student is among the highest, and today the Legislature allocates less revenue per student, than any other state in our Union. Arizona ranks 50th.

The consequence to education of the Legislature’s financial policies — in just eight years — has been catastrophic. Good teachers have left the profession in droves, student achievement scores are well below national standards and Arizona public schools cannot afford to invest in textbooks or the technology to keep up with the rest of the nation.

Imagine what the next eight years would be like if opponents of Prop. 123 get their way at the ballot box on May 17. If the referendum fails, public schools will go back to court to try and recover the money they are rightly owed, but there is little that will compel the current Legislature to be earnest in finding a solution to its $1.3 billion obligation. As Gov. Ducey said when he proposed this plan, it’s past time that Arizona taxpayers continued paying lawyers to negotiate a settlement between two government entities.

The solution for those who oppose Prop. 123 isn’t found by defeating the only assured source of revenue for public education over the next decade.

To change the behavior of the Legislature, it is incumbent on those who support education to change the membership. Electing representatives who are in tune with what public schools need to survive and prosper is the best way to prevent future State Senators and State Representatives from breaking the law and overruling a voter-approved proposition.

We strongly endorse a “Yes” vote on Proposition 123 on the May 17 ballot.

Former U.S. Congressman Frank Riggs Endorses Proposition 123

Former U.S. Congressman Frank Riggs Endorses Proposition 123

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 12, 2016

Former U.S. Congressman Frank Riggs Endorses Proposition 123

PHOENIX — Former U.S. Congressman Frank Riggs today endorsed Proposition 123 because the initiative is a conservative, innovative solution to funding our K-12 public schools.

“I think Proposition 123 is the best, conservative solution out there to providing increased, stable funding for Arizona’s K-12 public schools,” Frank Riggs, Scottsdale businessman, former U.S. Congressman and nonprofit CEO, said.  “It will put $3.5 billion into our K-12 schools without raising income taxes, money to address critical education needs, promote classroom teaching and learning, and recruit and retain talented educators.  Please join me in voting ‘YES’ on Prop 123 on May 17; it’s innovative, it’s creative and it’s exactly what we need to support our teachers, students and Arizona’s future.”

“As a former United States Congressman, member of the House Education Committee and a small business owner, Frank Riggs knows exactly the situation Arizona faces right now,”  Sharon Harper, chairman of the Let’s Vote Yes for Arizona Schools said. “He understands that we need to fund our schools and keep teachers from leaving the state to give Arizona’s kids the future they deserve. That’s why need we need to vote YES on May 17.”

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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

 

VIDEO: How Does Prop 123 Work?

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Today, our first TV ad of the campaign started playing statewide. Watch it below!

It’s all about how the state land trust works, how Prop 123 utilizes the trust, and what it will do for K-12 schools.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Prop 123 puts $3.5 Billion into our classrooms without raising taxes[/pullquote]

Arizona’s teachers and students depend on us — And passing Prop 123 will provide them resources and stability for the next decade.

Watch the ad below and SHARE it with your family and friends. Then, get to the polls on May 17, and vote YES on Prop 123.

Team Prop 123