Sometimes, just making a final decision about how you are going to vote on an issue comes down to the lesser of two evils. That’s a sad commentary on the present state of affairs in Arizona when it comes to education funding.
So, it is with heavy hearts that we advise our readers to vote “yes” on Proposition 123.
The reason we are saddened by this advice is because it speaks to the inability of our state lawmakers to reach a more viable solution to K-12 education funding. Like so many other elected officials, it seems that once elected, the one and only goal is re-election. Is there no elected official out there who could find the internal fortitude to cut something other than education funding?
Although there are certainly arguments to be made for voting “no” on Prop. 123, there is no basis for saying the state’s permanent fund would suffer “irreparable harm.” Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl makes this case very well in a recent commentary published in the state’s major daily newspaper.
Arizona is fortunate to have millions of acres of state trust land still available for conservation and for sale to the highest bidder. As the state grows, so does the value of that land. And past revenues have earned interest that bring the state’s permanent fund to a worth of around $5 billion. That’s a lot of insurance.
But the more important issue at stake in the May 17 special election is the state of Arizona’s education system.
There is no guarantee our legislators will get the message that they need to come to grips with the needs of our students and teachers. Is there any greater asset than a thriving, well-educated workforce? Are we willing to be satisfied with passing Prop. 123 and hoping it brings our rating on the educational assessment to a higher level? Are we destined to remain in the bottom two or three when it comes to the ranking of educational achievement?
Our advice is that along with passing Prop. 123, we educate ourselves about our representatives. And that includes our congressional delegation. Do you keep track of how your representative votes on various issues? Probably not as much as you should. But, you are not alone. Even here at this newspaper, it consumes a lot of time to stay up to speed on our local legislators. It’s even more difficult when it comes to our representatives in Congress. We cannot watch all of the proceedings on C-Span. We have to get a newspaper to the press every week. And that is no easy task.
But we do care about our students and the people who stand in front of them every day during the school year. We want them to enjoy their work and be fairly compensated for their efforts. Prop. 123 accomplishes that, at least for the next 10 years. After that, it up to our Legislature to finally get its act together and come up with a workable solution.
As for Prop. 124, that’s a very simple issue. Pension reform for our public safety officers is long overdue. Thank all who participated in the formation of this ballot proposition. You will find no opposing arguments in the special election guide.