PHOENIX -- Thousands of Arizona teachers are losing their jobs this week as a direct result of Republican lawmakers’ threat of a nearly $1 billion cut to K-12 education for 2010.
So far, schools in Tucson plan on laying off more than 700 teachers, in Mesa, 500, in Gilbert, 400, in Peoria, 300 and in Deer Valley, 200.
Schools had no choice but to assume a “worst case scenario” of absorbing the nearly $1 billion in budget cuts proposed for 2010 in the Republican Appropriations Committee Chairmen's options. Republican lawmakers have refused to tell schools or the public about any other, realistic budget options they are considering.
Such deep cuts to education are unnecessary because Arizona will receive $1 billion in federal stimulus money that can be used for education. Therefore, thousands of teachers are being laid off for no reason, House Democrats say.
“A lot of us are left shaking our heads because we warned our Republican colleagues from the beginning that threatening such deep and unnecessary cuts to education would end like this,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “The legislature forced schools to make these types of unnecessary cuts and now children and the future economic vitality of our state are in jeopardy.”
The layoffs will increase class size, inhibit children from receiving a quality education and leave more of Arizona’s middle-class families without jobs.
"With a daughter in TUSD public schools, and thousands of teachers, school employees and students in my district, I am very concerned and working for a solution," said Rep. Daniel Patterson (Tucson-LD29). "I voted no in January on the big Republican cuts to education, and I'm helping lead the way with a fair 2010 budget proposal that avoids further cuts to schools."
Republican lawmakers voted in favor of gutting education in the 2009 budget, and they plan to do it again in 2010. A cut that size is unnecessary and also would cause Arizona to lose federal dollars pumped into our schools.
Even worse, on March 19, Republicans attempted to pass an emergency bill that would have hurt teachers and given Republicans cover from public scrutiny over deep cuts they intend to make to K-12 education. House and Senate Democrats successfully blocked HB 2630, which would have denied teachers time to find new jobs and receive adequate notice of layoffs, which are generated by deep budget cuts Republicans intend to make.
Unfortunately, Republican lawmakers have not been open and transparent with the public about their budget options for 2010.
“At the beginning of the year, Republican lawmakers promised openness and transparency,” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “We could sure use some of that around the legislature right now.”
Legislative Democrats voted against the deep cuts to education in the 2009 budget process and will continue to vote to protect education in Arizona.
“House Democrats recognize the need for quality education in Arizona and we will continue to protect it so we can have a stronger Arizona as we move forward on the road to recovery,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “It is key to our economic recovery and stability that we invest in education so that our children are competitive in the global economy.”
- adapted from House Dems PIO.