Promise that higher taxes will “protect education” rings hollow

by Starlee Rhoades
Goldwater Institute

In two weeks, Arizona voters will decide if we should raise the state sales tax by 18 percent. We’re being told this money will “protect education.” We’ve been down this road before and it didn’t work out the way we were promised.

Ten years ago, we voted to raise our sales tax and dedicate the extra money to classroom spending. This year, the Arizona auditor general did an investigation and found that just over half of that money actually makes it to the classroom.

Click here to watch a 30-second video explaining this issue.

For every teacher in Arizona, there is almost one “non-teacher” on the payroll. Tucson Unified School District, for example, has hundreds of employees who work at the school district headquarters. Those folks aren’t in the schools teaching children.

Beyond excessive numbers of “non-teachers,” money is spent on all sorts of other non-classroom related items. TUSD’s website proudly highlights its wellness program that “aids in developing physical activity, healthy nutrition, stress and disease management and self care lifestyles.” But this wellness program isn’t for children. It’s for the adults who work for the district. Tax dollars that should be helping children learn instead are going to programs to help teachers lose weight.

One more note on TUSD. This headline in yesterday’s Arizona Daily Star caught my eye: “TUSD board rejects cutting own staff.”

Multiply Tucson’s excesses across the state’s 165 school districts and it might be easier to forgive me for being skeptical when I hear that the only choice we have is to raise our taxes or fire a bunch of teachers. If politicians were serious about protecting education, they would reduce the amount of money going to the massive education bureaucracy and stop funding programs that don’t help children learn.

We have already raised our taxes with the promise that the money would get to the classroom. If the government hasn’t kept that promise, why would they keep this one?

Starlee Rhoades is Vice President of External Affairs at the Goldwater Institute.


  1. To amswer the very last question in the article…the govt will not keep this promise either…it is not in the nature of govt to do what is right….only to do what benefits the govt..

  2. Delusional Bill says

    Perhaps we should be teaching math the way that the Education Establishment calculates things these days. We might find a SURPLUS or something… Lets see…. if only 1/2 of the tax dollars raised go to the program intended maybe we can raise taxes to 200% and then 100% can actually get to the classrooms. According to our Education Minded Betters it adds up… but then I was taught a different math….

  3. wanumba says

    The lion’s share of the state budget to education and the state is a national failure, lurking at the bottom of the 50 states rankings.

    And MORE money is the answer? NO, an overhaul is the answer.

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