Education in Arizona – The Cuts to Come

This is for all of my friends in Arizona.

As you may be aware the Arizona State Legislature has proposed to cut $1.5 billion from education budgets over the next year and a half. That is a 20% cut for K-12 and a 30% cut for higher education. Arizona currently ranks 49th in per student spending for K-12 education and 35th for spending on higher education.

These cuts will sacrifice our future – they will in the words of Michael Crow, ASU President “give Arizona a Third World education and economic infrastructure.”

I encourage all of you to visit speakupnowaz.org and send a letter to your state representatives informing them of the error they are considering and your full displeasure with it.

I’ve included the letter I sent this morning:

Dear Arizona Legislator,

As a veteran of Silicon Valley technology companies; and as a entrepreneur in Chandler; and as a father of two elementary school children; and as a dedicated proponent of Arizona and the Valley of the Sun; and as a committed partner of ASU; I’d like to inform you that cutting Arizona’s education budget at this moment in time – is both ill advised and exceptionally short sighted.

I’ve been an Arizona resident for more than 15 years. During that time I’ve worked for Silicon Valley technology companies as both a consultant and an executive. I know first hand that Arizona has lost major offices (specifically data centers) from several of these companies due in large part to the state of our education system. I have refused lucrative job offers in Silicon Valley because I believe that Arizona is capable of producing great technology talent and companies. I’ve committed to Arizona – I continue to wonder why our State officials refuse to do the same.

Phoenix has a single major university. Every major metropolitan area of equal size has many more. Our K-12 per student funding is 49th in the nation. Is it really any wonder that the only way we can sustain growth is via construction? While that may have been a viable approach in the past, it will no longer work. We must begin the process of transitioning from a boom and bust real estate market to building the competencies that can and will – with your support – transform our economy to a vibrant and lasting technology base.

Please understand, low taxes alone are not enough to attract and retain these businesses. They require well educated workers – workers they do not have to import. Workers who want to be in Arizona because they can raise their children here with the confidence that our education system will not fail them. Workers educated right here in Arizona.

While I understand that there are tough decisions to be made, we can not continue to sacrifice our future for the expediency of today. Tough choices will need to be made. But understand this, cutting education funding is not an appropriate choice. Do this – cut education funding – and not only will you lose my vote, but you will lose my business, and my commitment to the state of Arizona.

Sincerely,

Brian T. Roy

Founder and President

cosinity

http://www.cosinity.com

602.635.1013

Update: January 22nd 2009 @ 11:20 AM AZ Time

Linda Lopez – The AZ State Senator for District 29 responded to my email as follows:

Thank you for your email regarding your concerns about proposed cuts in
the Senate and House Republican Appropriations Committees Chairmen’s
budget. I do not support these cuts. I know full well that because of
our current budget crisis there will need to be some strategic reduction
in funding in all areas of state government, including education.
However, the level of reductions that are being proposed will, in my
estimation, not only decimate education at all levels it will undermine
our ability as a state to recover from this economic situation. I
strongly suggest that you let the appropriations chairs, Senator Russell
Pearce and Representative John Kavanaugh, and the legislative
leadership, Senate President Bob Burns and House Speaker Kirk Adams,
know about your concerns. In addition, you must also contact Governor
Brewer and her staff and let them how upset you are with these
proposals.

I have been a long time vocal supporter of education at all levels,
preschool through university. It is the bedrock of our state and our
country. We shortchange education at our own peril.

Sincerely,

State Senator Linda Lopez
District 29

Update: January 22nd 2009 @ 11:49 AM AZ Time

Frank Pratt – The AZ State Representative for District 23 responded as follows:

Thank you for sharing your concerns. We are taking any proposed budget
cuts to education very seriously.

Very truly yours,

Frank Pratt
State Representative
District #23

Frank – that is a very political response. I assure you I take your votes on this matter very seriously.

9 thoughts on “Education in Arizona – The Cuts to Come

  1. Response from Bill Konopnicki:Brian,Thanks for the email and information. While I agree with you (as a former school board member, a supporter of higher education and educator) this is going to be a very difficult budget year. I am very concerned about the chairman's options on higher education. I agree that these options could destroy what we have worked for years to build.AZ is short almost 40% in income and education is over half of the budget. I will all I can to protect education but understand I am one vote of 90.Let me know if you have some suggestions.Again thanks for the email.Bill‬

    Like

  2. Response from Michele Reagan:Brian:Believe me, I share your concern on the education budget(s).You are correct – there are some hard decisions that need to be made inthe next several months, and there are many of us who would like toconsider cuts to education as a LAST option. I do not sit onAppropriations, but it is important to remember that the “proposed”budget is just that – a proposal. The Appropriation committees havegiven options for the full Legislature to consider. There is still alog way to go until it the budget it final. Most discouraging to me isthat some of these programs being considered are programs that I havefought for in the past. I don't think I will ever forget the fight Ihad on excess utilities last year. We were able to pass that (and theygave us a 0% chance!) I really appreciate you e-mailing me your input,as this is the time that the Legislature needs to hear from the public.Thanks again – Michele Reagan

    Like

  3. Response from Kirk Adams (Speaker of House)Brian, Thank you for taking the time to write your concerns regarding educationfunding and the future of Arizona. As you're probably aware, Arizona faces the worst fiscal crisis in ourstate history.It is imperative that budget solutions be adopted equivalent to themagnitude of the problem; spending reductions provide savings in FiscalYear 2009 that will carry over into Fiscal Year 2010. With regards to education, you're concerned about the Chairman'soptions, which are just that – options. These are not the final budgetrecommendations.In the weeks and months ahead we will be parsing through these optionsin a transparent way to determine the most responsible manner to solvethe state's fiscal crisis while maintaining a sound education system. Education is critical to the future of our state and we will continue tomake it a priority.Speaker Adams

    Like

  4. Response from Bill Konopnicki:Brian,Thanks for the email and information. While I agree with you (as a former school board member, a supporter of higher education and educator) this is going to be a very difficult budget year. I am very concerned about the chairman's options on higher education. I agree that these options could destroy what we have worked for years to build.AZ is short almost 40% in income and education is over half of the budget. I will all I can to protect education but understand I am one vote of 90.Let me know if you have some suggestions.Again thanks for the email.Bill‬

    Like

  5. Response from Michele Reagan:Brian:Believe me, I share your concern on the education budget(s).You are correct – there are some hard decisions that need to be made inthe next several months, and there are many of us who would like toconsider cuts to education as a LAST option. I do not sit onAppropriations, but it is important to remember that the “proposed”budget is just that – a proposal. The Appropriation committees havegiven options for the full Legislature to consider. There is still alog way to go until it the budget it final. Most discouraging to me isthat some of these programs being considered are programs that I havefought for in the past. I don't think I will ever forget the fight Ihad on excess utilities last year. We were able to pass that (and theygave us a 0% chance!) I really appreciate you e-mailing me your input,as this is the time that the Legislature needs to hear from the public.Thanks again – Michele Reagan

    Like

  6. Response from Kirk Adams (Speaker of House)Brian, Thank you for taking the time to write your concerns regarding educationfunding and the future of Arizona. As you're probably aware, Arizona faces the worst fiscal crisis in ourstate history.It is imperative that budget solutions be adopted equivalent to themagnitude of the problem; spending reductions provide savings in FiscalYear 2009 that will carry over into Fiscal Year 2010. With regards to education, you're concerned about the Chairman'soptions, which are just that – options. These are not the final budgetrecommendations.In the weeks and months ahead we will be parsing through these optionsin a transparent way to determine the most responsible manner to solvethe state's fiscal crisis while maintaining a sound education system. Education is critical to the future of our state and we will continue tomake it a priority.Speaker Adams

    Like

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