Mark the date, May 20, 2016. That's the day Governor Ducey declared that Prop 123, his "first step" to improve Arizona education, passed. The count isn't official yet, but Ducey believes it's a done deal. So now it's time to find out what he has in mind for the next step.
When Howard Fischer asked Ducey outright
what comes next, the governor got cute.
“We’re going to take the rest of the day off,” he said. “We’re going to celebrate a little bit.”
Fine. But unless he's planning to go on a serious bender, the celebrations should be over soon and it'll be time for him to state his plans. The "Next Step" Watch has begun. Today is Day 1. Weekends count, since being governor is a 24/7 job. I'm sure Ducey has been thinking about what he wants to do next, he just hasn't told the rest of us. It's time.
Let me offer a suggestion. Ducey should get together with the leaders of the House and Senate and propose a $300 million K-12 education package to match the $300 million Prop 123 is supposed to bring in. The first $90 million of that will take us from 70 percent to 100 percent of what the courts say the state owes our schools. The remaining $210 million will be new funding.
The result would be a total $600 million boost over pre-Prop 123 levels. If that sounds like a lot, it isn't. We're now in 49th place nationally in per student funding. The extra money would put us just ahead of 48th place Oklahoma. That's nothing to brag about, but it's something.
Rounding out my suggestion, I think Ducey should call a one day special session to pass the $300 million budget boost. Legislators can go back home with "I voted for our children's education" bragging rights to use in the upcoming election, and people who opposed Prop 123 for the very good reason that it drains money from the state land trust might feel a little better—not a whole lot, but a little better—knowing that the governor has shown he's serious about raising the amount we spend on our children's education even if it cuts into the budget surplus.
What do you say, Doug? We'll keep the light on here at The Range. The watch will continue until you let us know what you're planning.