AZ Schools Now: Governor Ducey’s Education Plan Fails to Meet Critical Test of Sustainability

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Phoenix, Ariz.— AZ Schools Now—a coalition of parents, teachers, school board members, faith-based leaders, and children’s advocates—responded to Governor Doug Ducey’s five-year education funding plan by saying the plan failed to meet a critical test of sustainability.

“Arizona’s public schools and the students they serve are suffering under years-long neglect,” declared Beth Simek, president of the Arizona PTA. “They need a sustainable plan they can count on with a dedicated revenue source.”

Dawn Penich-Thacker, spokeswoman for Save Our Schools Arizona, stated, “When the governor declared in his State of the State address that he wanted to ‘restore the long-standing cuts from the recession,’ we were hopeful this funding plan would seriously address the $1.1 billion in cuts that have yet to be reinstated. But if we follow the governor’s plan, it will take another decade or longer to get us back to where we were a decade ago and will not move us out of our bottom of the barrel funding.”

“Our teacher shortage crisis will not improve without a serious, long-term plan to address the funding inadequacies in our budget,” said Reverend Andy Burnette, a leader with Arizona Interfaith Network and pastor of Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Chandler. “We simply do not have enough revenues to get us back to pre-recession days or move us forward in a meaningful way. We’ve cut too much and added too little.”

AZ Schools Now recently called on the Legislature and Governor Doug Ducey to deliver sustainable, permanent and equitable investments in the state’s public schools in 2018 and presented a menu of investment options the Legislature could enact that would generate hundreds of millions of dollars for Arizona’s K-12 public schools.

Those options include:

 MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
Hire back collectors and audit staff at the Arizona Department of Revenue to collect taxes that are owed$70 million
Freeze individual and corporate income tax cuts still phasing in$22 million
Eliminate the four private school tax credits and the public school extracurricular tax credit$207 million
Increase the minimum corporate income tax to $500; must be paid after credits claimed$17 million
Extend the transaction privilege tax to warranties and service contracts$24 million
Issue bonds for new school construction instead of paying cash up front$90 million
Require all property taxpayers to pay the full qualifying tax rate (QTR) property tax for education funding$208 million
Raise the state equalization property tax rate by $0.05 per $100 of assessed valuation to contribute more to total school funding ($7.50 more per year for a $150,000 house)$29 million
Raise income tax rates for households with incomes above $500,000$250 million
Redirect “results-based” funding that’s only going to “A” rated schools$38 million

The coalition remains committed to working with the governor’s office and the Legislature to find sustainable, permanent and equitable solutions to strengthen our public schools.