This November, Arizona voters will be asked to decide on two initiatives that will impact education in our state. As part of the Vote 4 Education campaign, Expect More Arizona is encouraging Arizonans to vote YES on propositions 118 and 204. Each of these propositions delivers resources that, invested strategically, will help build a world-class education system for every Arizona student.
It is vital that Arizona voters make informed decisions, so with that in mind, we asked representatives from both of the propositions to submit an explanation of each in their own words. You can read them below.
Prop 118 – Consistent & Reliable Funding for Education
By Doug Ducey, Arizona State Treasurer
Through an Act of Congress in 1863 that established the Territory of Arizona and the State Enabling Act of 1910, the Federal Government granted about 8.4 million acres of land to Arizona public education. Today, about 8.1 million acres remain in the Arizona State Trust. K-12 schools are the prime beneficiary and make up about 87 percent of state trust land. Every time the state sells a piece of state land, those proceeds are deposited into the State Treasurer’s Office to be managed into perpetuity. Today the market value of the Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund is more than $3.5 billion.
The Treasurer’s Office recently completed the first-ever asset allocation study for the fund. The most glaring take-away from the study was that the current formula, used to fund public education and the twelve other beneficiaries, is flawed. It is overly complicated and has resulted in uneven, unpredictable and even zero dollar distributions. If left unchanged, this current formula will result in several additional years over the next decade in zero dollar distributions.
“As a trustee for an endowment this large there is no reason we should have years with a zero dollar distribution,” stated Arizona State Treasurer Doug Ducey. “We have a distribution formula today that is overly complicated and has delivered the unintended consequence of zero dollars for K-12 education in 2010. Prop 118 provides an opportunity to correct this while protecting the principal of the trust and maximizing distributions for the beneficiaries for the next 10 years.”
Upon voter approval, Prop 118 would revise the distribution formula for the $3.5 billion Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund to be 2.5 percent of the average 5-year market value of the fund. Currently, the distribution is based on the 5-year average of annual returns after adjusting for inflation. If approved by voters, next year’s distribution will be $62.4 million for K-12 education, $10 million more than if the current formula is used.
“This is a reform that simplifies government and has widespread, bipartisan support from both the education and business communities,” added Treasurer Ducey. “Now armed with this critical knowledge we all have a fiduciary responsibility to make certain Arizona’s children and teachers have a consistent and reliable distribution from the trust fund every single year.”
Proposition 204 – Quality Education and Jobs
By Ann-Eve Pedersen, Chair, Quality Education & Jobs Initiative and President, Arizona Education Parent Network
On Nov. 6, Arizonans will have the opportunity to improve not only the future of Arizona schoolchildren, but also our state’s economic health.
Passage of Prop. 204 – the Quality Education and Jobs Initiative – will be a game-changer for public education in Arizona. By renewing the one-cent sales tax voters overwhelmingly approved in 2010, it will create a permanent, protected funding source for education that will insulated from the politics of the state Capitol. In addition to investing more resources to help schoolchildren and their classrooms at a critical time, Prop. 204 will prevent the Legislature from making any further cuts to K-12 education.
Voting Yes on Prop. 204 is not a close call for Arizona voters. Education is our top funding priority. Voters understand that investing in education benefits not just our children, but pays never-ending dividends for Arizona’s economic health. Companies with good-paying jobs seek out states and remain in states that value education because they are guaranteed an educated workforce. Professionals, like surgeons, accountants, veterinarians, migrate to states that have high- quality schools that their children can attend.
This investment comes at a critical time for education in Arizona. Our state led the nation in the depth of cuts to education, while having one of the lowest per-pupil investments in the country. Those unprecedented cuts led to the elimination of all-day Kindergarten funding, much larger class sizes, teacher layoffs, school closures and inadequate funding for basic supplies, like books. Although the economy is recovering, legislators have refused to reinvest significantly in education.
At the same time, Arizona is about to implement a series of under-funded education reforms over the next two years called “the biggest shake-up in decades” by the Arizona Republic. Those include: Adoption of the Common Core, Move on When Reading, the new A-F district rating system and the new principal and teacher evaluation system.
We are raising the bar for our students and our educators but we must set them up to succeed.
In addition to investing in K-12 district and charter schools, Prop. 204 will provide resources to vocational education; community college and university scholarships; and operations, and GED programs.
Political insiders who oppose Prop. 204 don’t want the status quo to change. They feel threatened by voters actually deciding how their own tax dollars are spent. We must put practical, common sense solutions for Arizona schoolchildren and our state’s economy above petty politics.
Grassroots action has been the key to our success so far and it is what will propel Prop. 204 to victory in November. YOU can help in many ways. Please sign up to participate in phone banks, walk door-to-door, take a yard sign and donate to the campaign. For ideas on how to help, go to www.qualityeducationandjobs.com.
Paid for by Expect More Arizona PAC – Yes on 118 and 204. Major funding provided by Expect More Arizona. This political committee has not accepted any public funds.
Read more August newsletter articles:
Excellence for All
Expect More Arizona Expands Statewide Reach
Arizona’s Common Core Standards – Helping Arizona Students Innovate
Increased Math Requirement Equals Better Prepared Students