When it comes to school funding, Ducey has spoken
: No. New. Money. But the voters have spoken too, for the second time. They want: More. New. Money.
Immovable object, meet unstoppable force. Something, or someone, has got to give on the school funding front.
Back in 2015, a Morrison Institute poll found that 74 percent of Arizona voters wanted the state to spend more on K-12 education. It was Governor Ducey's fondest wish that he could throw the people a portion of the money the state owed to the schools via Prop 123, mainly using the state land trust fund instead of the state budget, the peasants would be satisfied and he could get back to the important business of giving tax cuts to his rich friends. Looks like it didn't quite work out that way.
The latest Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll
found—drum roll, please—74 percent of voters still think we spend too little on K-12 education, just like they did in 2015. Even among Ducey's people, the Republicans, 63 percent say we're not spending enough. Among Democrats, the number is 88 percent. When Ducey told everyone Prop 123 was only the first step, implying, deceptively, that he thought the next step should be more money, the voters apparently agreed.
So what's next? Voters aren't actually an unstoppable force. Elected officials block the will of the people on a regular basis. And politicians aren't entirely immovable. Fear of losing an election has been known to move them a few feet in one direction or the other. So who's going to give, and how much?
Elections are looming, which should make candidates worry about the will of the people, but the primaries are over, and most of our neatly gerrymandered legislative districts don't lend themselves to much competition in the general election. The immovable objects have the edge. But a 75 percent agreement among the voters that schools need additional funding has got to have Republicans feeling just a bit edgy, while it puts a spring in the Democrats' step.
Governor Ducey's office has weighed in on school funding since the poll came out, as has Don Shooter, Republican chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Their sleight-of-hand responses are too maddeningly delightful to stick at the end of this post. I'll save them for later.