Friday, November 28, 2008

AZ leaders must protect, not axe, education funds

AZ's kids need a Governor and Legislature who will work to protect education.

PHOENIX -- Incoming Arizona Senate President Bob Burns (R-Peoria) said this week it's 'obvious' we need to cut education because 'we have overspent, obviously significantly overspent.' Yet, with Arizona already unacceptably next to last in the nation in per pupil funding, there is little to nothing to cut.

With all due respect to Mr. Burns, he is wrong on this. The State of Arizona has underfunded education, much to the harm of our economy, children and future generations. Education (and health care) are the last places we should look for cuts, not the first.

How about bringing back the education equalization property assessment, as earlier agreed, and looking hard at streamlining the bloated prison budget, Mr. Burns? How about a real attempt at solving Arizona's revenue problems?

Due to already stressed budgets, Principal Teri Melendez of TUSD must try to run two schools this year.

As a State Representative who went to public schools and has a daughter now in Tucson public schools, I listen to teachers, parents and students, and I will do all I can to try to protect public education from drastic cuts as a first budget balancing option. I will work wisely with all who value education, including moderate Republicans, and our incoming House Democratic leader, David Lujan (D-Phoenix), who says, 'let's protect education as much as we possibly can.'

The likely extreme Republican attacks on public education are just one more critical reason why Arizonans need Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) to stay in office and not go to DHS in Washington. Without her helping negotiate the budget, and her veto pen if needed, the reckless self-proclaimed 'conservatives' may be out of control at the State Capitol for the next two years.

Everyone knows this will be a tough budget year, but there's nothing 'conservative' about slashing public education funding first, that approach is radical and unwise.

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