This week, Governor Doug Ducey made this public statement about his recent success in K-12 education funding:
In January, I stood in front of a joint legislature to deliver my priorities for this session – and key among them was a strong focus on career and technical education.
Now, following a bipartisan – unanimous – vote in both chambers, we are one step closer to providing vital support for thousands of Arizona students while keeping a structurally-balanced budget.
This victory is a high testament to what I’ve said since the beginning – we can be responsible with our budget while adding significant, real dollars to K-12 education.
In his first year as governor, Ducey and his Chief of Staff, Kirk Adams, have worked to negotiate Proposition 123 to bring much needed funding to Arizona schools. As former Speaker of the House for Arizona, Kirk Adams has masterfully worked with both sides to gather support for this impressive piece of legislation. What could have been another several years of an already five-year education funding quagmire has been solved in just one year by Ducey’s staff, a solution that the public has the opportunity to accept.
While the vote on Proposition 123 won’t be until Spring, the governor’s office has stayed busy, ensuring that the plan will grant a huge boost to schools without increasing taxes. Ducey and Adams have worked to settle the five-year education funding lawsuit against the state. The lawsuit was a result of the lack of funding increase to school’s after the inflation of the early 21st century. Proposition 123 will end that lawsuit by more than compensating the schools and allowing the plaintiffs, the schools themselves and other education groups, to stop paying lawyers and free up more funds for their teachers.
Speaking of Ducey’s achievements over the last year, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry wrote:
What might prove to be his most consequential accomplishment this year was negotiating the language of Proposition 123 with the Legislature and education stakeholders. Passage of Prop. 123 next May will finally put an end to a lawsuit over education funding that has been hanging over the K-12 system for too long, and inject $3.5 billion into public education without raising taxes.
While some have complained that Ducey’s legislation is an immediate solution to a long-term funding problem, Proposition 123 has been created to draw from funding already set aside for Arizona students. This fund, the State Land Trust, will become a perpetual financing source that will give to the schools well beyond the $300 million original lawsuit settlement.
Lawmakers and educators are hopeful that this will be the beginning of a new focus on education in Arizona which has risen in the national education ranking since Ducey took office. Eileen B. Sigmund, President of the Arizona Charter Schools Association, said of the landmark proposition:
Proposition 123 settles a past due bill and provides much needed stability to K-12 education funding. This ballot measure is a great example of what can be accomplished when our state’s political and education leaders come together to address a crisis.
Voting on Proposition 123 takes place statewide on March 17th.