In Arizona – Education is now an Option

If you’d like to see an example of the extreme “no taxes” political persuasion – you need to look no further than Arizona.

In Arizona taxes are evil, for years our politicians have built their reputations on one simple idea – taxes kill growth, so let’s not have any. They’ve perpetuated a myth… and now we are going to pay for it.

Arizona is full of people and companies that are here for one reason – they don’t want to pay taxes. Our economic structure is built on developers putting up planned communities and strip malls. Our tax base is based on people buying all the things they need to fill their new McMansions. The problem is, that model isn’t sustainable – never has been. An effective government would have begun making the investments years ago to allow our economy to smoothly transition from population growth to a sustainable industry based model.

Instead our government (and quite frankly, we) ignored a simple reality – you can’t build a sustainable economic base on a foundation of tax cuts.

Sustainable economies don’t occur by magic – and much of what is required by companies will never be invested in by those companies:

  • Education
  • Public Infrastructure
  • The Arts

So here we are – and it is time to pay the piper. And for all the conservative bluster about not saddling the next generation with debt or higher taxes they will instead be saddled with something much worse – a woefully substandard education and with it hugely diminished lifetime earnings.

While I do not believe that money alone can solve the problems we see in the state’s education system – I also know that reducing school funding to roughly the level of high quality daycare won’t result in better educated citizens.

And sadly, Arizona has already reached rock bottom – 50th in the US in graduating high school seniors going on to higher education, 50th in the nation in education spending, bottom third of US in high school graduation rate.

Now, it is time for the next round of cuts – and (no surprise here) education leads the way:

  • Reduced Funding for Charter Schools
  • Elimination of “non-Formula” K-12 Programs
  • Elimination of all day Kindergarten
  • Reduce funding to 2005-2006 levels
  • Elimination of Building Renewal funding

Link to Govenor Brewer’s Budget Proposal

What does all this mean? No art, no gifted programs, no music, closing charter schools, no restoration of dilapidated schools, all day kindergarten eliminated.

The worst part is, there will be more to come. Why? Because our elected representatives do not have the moral character required to admit that you can’t sustain anything on a platform of:

  • Times are Good!!! Lower Taxes!
  • Times are Bad!!! We can’t Raise Taxes!

At some point you hit the logical limits of that line of thinking – and we are there. It is time for the citizens of Arizona to realize that there is no sustainable future for this state (or our country) if we fail to invest in the future. There is no more important investment than an investment in our children’s education.

As the owner of an Arizona Based business – and as a father, I am happy to pay more taxes in order to ensure the education of our states children. Sure, I could just spend my money on my kids – send them to private schools, but that doesn’t improve our state or our nation. Essentially it will just allow my children the opportunity to one day leave Arizona for a college or a job that is appropriate for them.

It is time for all of us to start thinking about the future. It is time for us to demand our local and state governments implement sound taxation policy (the temporary sales tax increase is a band-aid and a poor one at that). In short, it is time for Arizona to grow up…

7 thoughts on “In Arizona – Education is now an Option

  1. Art, music, and gifted programs have been cut here in Minnesota over the past ten+ years, and we *have* a high tax bracket. Part of the problem is that academics and sports take preferential treatment over the extras you and I had in high school (which we took for granted). I teach in a school where the lockers are broken and the building is crumbling…the heaters are ancient and the technology available to students is outdated, at best. So if your theory of increasing taxes is correct, how come a high tax state like Minnesota–which claims to be all for education–ignores this school's (and many others like it) needs? I do think that using property taxes to fund schools is a bad idea, as poor neighborhoods get the shaft, while affluent ones are exceptionally funded. However, increasing property taxes isn't necessarily the best route. A national sales tax of X% would likely generate enough revenue to equally fund schools across the board. As an educator, mother, and conservative, I do agree that schools should be funded better, but not by increasing tax, but by changing how the tax is collected. i.e. national sales tax) jmpo.DKJS

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    1. As I said – more money doesn't solve all the problems. More importantly, what I'm speaking to is creating a sound tax policy – cut taxes under every possible economic circumstance isn't a sound tax policy. Creating a sound economic policy (nevermind the whole democratic system of government) requires a well educated population. As much as we'd like to believe cutting taxes ensures a robust economy – it simply isn't true or sustainable.Shifting the tax burden to a national tax is simply a tax increase… why not do it in the state or local government instead? Why not a state property tax pool that can be dispensed per student (instead of staying in the district from which it was generated).Listen – We have to fix the flawed priorities, we have to fix the poor funding decisions that the local schools make (sports over music/arts) – but defunding education isn't the answer.

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  2. Arizona Sen. John McCain (R), speaking from Cairo, sais that he agreed with US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice’s statement that Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi “has lost the legitimacy to rule.” Noting that the Libyan government is “using air …

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