Posted: Sep 4, 2012 5:10 PM
Updated: Sep 4, 2012 6:02 PM
TUCSON - A new report shows Arizona made the deepest cuts to K through 12 education over the past five years, compared to the rest of the country.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released those findings today. Arizona topped the list, dropping its spending per student by 21.8 percent since 2008.
These numbers are pushing a November ballot measure into the spotlight.
The report also shows Arizona increased education spending this past year, but Proposition 204 supporters say more is needed. If passed, the measure would make permanent the temporary one-cent sales tax increase that was approved by voters in 2010.
It's no secret that school districts across the state are struggling to do more with less money. The Quality Education and Jobs Committee says Prop 204 will protect students and teachers from even deeper cuts by generating $1 billion a year.
"Eighty percent of the funds are dedicated specifically to education, and the legislature can't touch them, and we do this without raising a tax, we just continue the one that's already in place," says Ann-Eve Pedersen, chair of the Quality Education and Jobs Committee.
The measure boasts at least 30 early endorsements from businesses, education groups and community organizations.
But critics say Prop 204 is the wrong way to make education a top priority. Vocal opponents include the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, the Tax Research Association, and State Treasurer Doug Ducey, who just last month created the "No New Taxes, No On Prop 204" Committee.
"It would give Arizona the second-highest tax rate in the country," Ducey says. "It will not go to the classroom, it will not go to the teachers, it will be soaked up in administration, overhead and bureaucracy."
One measure, two sides, and the fight to fund education continues.
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