'Senate Education Budget Violates Prop. 100 Public Trust'

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If you decided to protect your sanity and not watch the Arizona Senate debate the budget bills last night, the good nonpartisan folks at the Arizona Education Network stayed up late for an evening of live blogging. To get an idea of what happened, visit their blog here.

The Arizona Education Network also issued a statement last night on the historic cuts made to education:

The Senate proposal to cut millions more from our state's universities, community colleges and K-12 schools violates the public trust by rejecting the mandate voters sent legislators in passing Prop. 100 last spring.

In May, Arizonans overwhelmingly passed Prop. 100 by a two-to-one margin, saying that they were willing to pay a one-cent temporary tax in order to protect our public schools, community colleges and universities from further state budget cuts. By moving to undo public will by proposing such deep cuts to education, Arizona's Senate leadership would, in effect, reject a voter mandate.

None of Arizona's senators campaigned last fall on a platform to reverse Prop. 100 by supporting devastating cuts to education.

"No one likes to be misled," said Ann-Eve Pedersen, president of the Arizona Education Network, a non-profit, non-partisan, parent-founded group that advocates for public education. "Arizona voters sent a very, very clear message to the state Legislature in 2010 that they value investment in public education and are willing to tax themselves more in order to protect it. For our state Senate leaders to thumb their noses at Arizona voters by reversing public will violates their responsibility to their constituents."

The public passed Prop. 100 in large part because they recognize that cutting public education is bad for the economy. If these Senate cuts succeed, many more Arizonans will lose their jobs, making it even more difficult to pull out of the recession. Arizona's reputation as a state that chronically underfunds education will worsen, making it even more difficult to recruit and retain professionals and well-paying jobs in our state. In addition, the state's military bases, which already have warned legislators they could be at risk of closure if education funding worsens, could also be put at risk.

Prop. 100, in effect for three years, provided projected yearly funding of $428 million to K-12 schools, $107 million to universities and $15 million to community colleges. The Senate's proposed cuts would reduce funding to those institutions by the following amounts: K-12, $242 million; universities, $235 million and community colleges, $72 million.

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