Governor Ducey’s new budget proposal includes a $1.2 billion tax cut spread over the next three years.
This idea, especially when added to the loss of revenue from Prop. 123 expiring soon, is the wrong idea for Arizona right now. And millions of Arizona voters agree. They want increased revenue, not more tax cuts.
In November, Arizona voters passed Prop. 208 — The Invest in Education Act, which will add hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to our state every year to address the teacher shortage and double career and technical education funding.
But now, the governor is proposing the exact opposite. In fact, he’s proposing a larger revenue cut than the increase voters approved. This does little to make Arizona a great place to live.
The real path to economic prosperity in Arizona is to develop our workforce by building a strong education system that attracts businesses, strengthens families and improves Arizonans overall quality of life.
Instead, the governor proposes to essentially maintain the status quo on an education system that’s 49th in the nation but make it super cheap to do business here. This cynical, short sighted approach to economic development is unsettling, but it is nothing new.
If the past is any indication, massive tax cuts would result in cuts to education funding. Here’s why: The proposed tax cut uses a short-term budget surplus without a funding source for the future. That means as the cut takes effect and revenues decrease, the legislature is forced to cut expenses in order to keep a balanced budget.
The largest state expenses are education and healthcare — both critical to growing Arizona’s struggling citizens into the workforce, but also the easiest to cut. Taking Arizona down this path again is simply irresponsible.
It is also out of step with what Arizona voters want. A December public opinion poll by Stand for Children Arizona reveals emphatic support for additional education funding. Even after the passage of Prop. 208, 72% of Arizona voters believe there is still a need for additional funds for Arizona public schools.
Further, just the basic idea to cut taxes finds little support from voters. Their opposition increases significantly, to 58% opposed, when informed that funding for education could also be reduced.
Voters clearly see the link between education funding and economic success. Unfortunately, the governor has not gotten the message yet.
Editor’s Note: Rebecca Gau is executive director at Stand for Children Arizona, and prior to that was the director of the governor’s office of education innovation under Gov. Jan Brewer.