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Gov. Ducey says he’ll increase education funding with money from government reform (+ Video)


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  • Lisa Irish/ Arizona Education News Service

Governor Doug Ducey Speaking At The 2018 Opening Day At The Arizona State Legislature. Photo Courtesy Of Arizona Capitol TV

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said he will increase Arizona K-12 education funding by moving money from other areas of the budget into the state’s public schools during his State of the State address earlier today at the Arizona Legislature.

Click here to read the full text of Gov. Doug Ducey’s 2018 State of the State address

Ducey also said his budget proposal will be released on Friday.

 Arizona Capitol TV Video: Gov. Doug Ducey’s 2018 State of the State Address

But critics say Ducey has under-funded classrooms and teachers while cutting taxes for corporations and expanding school vouchers, according to an article in The Arizona Republic.

Arizona companies are totally dependent on a well-educated workforce, said Ed Goff, founder and owner of Blockwise Engineering, a Tempe firm, on Saturday at the March to Save Our Schools and Support Public Education.

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Ed Goff, founder and owner of Blockwise Engineering, speaks at the March to Save Our Schools and Support Public Education on Jan. 6, 2018 at the Arizona Capitol. Photo by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews

“In Arizona, the vast majority of career and technical education happens in public schools.To employ a workforce like I employ, you need highly qualified math and science teachers, you need updated computers, you need AP classes, you need tutoring and magnet programs,” Goff said.

“When we fail to fund our public schools, we are failing to develop the workforce necessary to stay competitive in the national and global economy,” Goff said. “You may hear that companies need tax breaks to invest and grow. It’s just wrong. Our company has no shortage of financial capital. The world is awash in financial capital now. Financial capital is the easy part, human capital is the hard thing. Human capital is the bottleneck. Let’s not waste any of it.”

No longer will spending on K-12 education decrease while spending on prison facilities increases, Ducey said in his speech.

“For the second year in a row, my budget will add no new prison beds. All of this while fighting crime and improving public safety. In addition, my cabinet continues to identify millions in wasteful spending, opportunities for consolidation and streamlined services,” Ducey said.

“Let’s spend these dollars – tens of millions of dollars combined – where they can go to better use: In our public schools and for our teachers,” Ducey said. “But before we talk dollars and cents – let’s address something. Some folks think the best argument for a greater investment in our public schools is to claim that our schools are failing. They are wrong.”

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City of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton speaks at the March to Save Our Schools and Support Public Education. Photo by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews

Arizona can’t be successful for fighting for great economic development, if the state continues to rank dead last in education finance, said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton at the March to Save Our Schools on Saturday.

“When we rank 50th in teacher pay, when we rank 50th in support of our students, but somehow we’re (U.S. Education Secretary) Besty DeVos’ favorite state, that’s a big problem in the State of Arizona,” Stanton said. “The status quo is unacceptable.”

The most compelling argument for investing in Arizona’s public schools is that they are improving and getting better, Ducey said.

“You wouldn’t always know it from picking up the newspaper or turning on the TV, but Arizona public schools are showing real, measurable signs of progress, and they are leading the nation in some important areas,” Ducey said. “Four of the top five public high schools in America are right here in Arizona. Arizona students continue to lead the nation in improvements in reading and math. Three Arizona school districts – Chandler, Peoria and Washington Elementary – placed in the top 20 nationwide for academic gains.”

“We know how to educate a child in the state of Arizona. We need to do it more often in more locations across our state,” Ducey said.

Overall per student spending is up 10 percent since 2015 – that’s adjusted for inflation, and over the last three years, Arizona has committed 1.7 billion new state dollars to K-12 education, Ducey said.

“But how much of that was money that had been illegally withheld from the schools – money a judge ordered the state to hand over?,” asked Laurie Roberts in her column in The Arizona Republic.

“Since fiscal year 2015, school districts have increased their investment in teacher salaries by nine percent. It is clear: principals, superintendents and school board members are directing these dollars where they should go, to our dedicated teachers,” Ducey said.

“I’ve pledged to increase spending on K-12 education, above and beyond inflation, every year I’m in office. I’ve also said, we’ll never check the box on public education. We can always do more for our kids and teachers,” Ducey said.

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Patrick Robles, a Sunnyside High School student, speaks at the March to Save Our Schools , Jan. 6, 2018 at the Arizona Capitol. Photo by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews

It’s time for Arizonans from all political groups to come together and demand more funding for public education, said Patrick Robles, a junior at Sunnyside High School and student body vice president in Tucson.

“I’m asking our state leaders, please don’t leave our schools in tatters. Please consider your legacy and our future. We need you our elected leaders to put ideology aside and realize public education is not the enemy. Public education opens the door to everything for my generation.”

Robles said he is frustrated with the actions of some in the state legislature and the governor.

“I know a lots of other young people who go through public schools, but don’t get the opportunities they deserve due to the lack of funding that the state provides,” Robles said.

It’s time for “our legislators and governor to do right by our public schools and establish a modernized funding mechanism that truly gives students like me, the students here and every student around the state,” the oportunities and support they need, Robles said.

Teachers don’t enter the profession for easy hours and long vacations, “we’re teachers that want to enter this profession to make a difference,” said Arizona Teacher of the Year Josh Meibos at the March to Save Our Schools and Support Public Education on Saturday.

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Rep. Charlene Fernandez speaks at the March to Save Our Schools Jan. 6, 2018. Photo by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews

Minority Whip Rep. Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma (District 4) said her constituents want stronger public schools.

“They want to know that when they send their child to school that there is a certified teacher in the classroom,” Fernandez said. “They want to know that their child is not sitting on the floor because there’s not enough desks in the classroom. They want to know that there’s enough textbooks. They want to make sure that all those extracurricular activities that you and I loved – music, P.E., drama – all those things that made us who we are today are there for the next generation.”

Ducey said his budget proposal will include a full commitment to accelerate the state’s K-12 investment, and restore long-standing cuts from the recession.

At the same time, Arizona is maintaining investments in these targeted programs that are working, and making a difference for Arizona students, Ducey said:

  • All-day kindergarten.
  • Career and technical education.
  • Computer science and coding.
  • Reducing waitlists.
  • Closing the achievement gap.
  • High-speed internet to rural schools.
  • New school buses.
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U.S. Rep. Thomas O’Halleran speaks at the March to Save Our Schools. Photo by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews

Ducey said that 80 percent of the new budget priorities Arizonans will see when he releases his budget on Friday will be for public education.

“We know what works and we know how to get big ideas done. We’ve done it before. Prop 123 was the result of a partnership between Democrats and Republicans. The Education and Business communities. The voters, for saying “yes.” And of course, our teachers – the biggest difference-makers of them all,” Ducey said. “If we are to succeed on future efforts around public education, we must work in the same way. Together.”

“We are losing teachers and not being able to get teachers into this state because of the pay levels,” said U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, AZ-District 1, at the March o Save Our Schools. “We have fought for it year after year after year. I’ve seen it in both of these buildings when I was in the legislature and I can tell you that just because they give you money in the process doesn’t mean they make education a priority. It means that they have to do better.”

Arizona’s committment to education doesn’t end at 12th grade, it continues to the state’s innovative public universities, Ducey said.

“This work will be done at our capital over the next several weeks, but the real work in our state is happening outside these walls. I’ve been to every county in this state, and I like what I’ve seen,” Ducey said.

Arizonans are working to help each other and make the state a good place for their families and for future generations, Ducey said.

“It’s that same (spirit of public) service that will lead Arizona into the future,” Ducey said.

“Now, I don’t want to sound naive. I realize we are a country divided, and in many ways, a people divided. Our state as well. But as a country we’ve been here before and in more difficult circumstances,” Ducey said.

2:25 p.m.

Gov Doug Ducey began his State of the State address by honoring the women political leaders of Arizona, saying there is no shortage of role models for the state’s girls and young women.

“They didn’t do it for women in 2018 to face misogyny, discrimination or harassment, they did it so the women who followed them would not only have their voices heard, but they should grow and shape our country,” Ducey said.

The future of Arizona is strong and we can move forward in a way to make our citizen’s proud so let’s get to work, Ducey said.

“Last year, almost 90 percent of the legislation we passed was nonpartisan,” Ducey said.

“Since I last stood at this podium, we’ve lost more than 800 Arizonans to opioids. These are real lives, real people gone,” Ducey said. “We’ve taken some important steps to date cracking down on doc shopping. Making naloxone available to stop overdoses.”

But this epidemic requires a more aggressive approach and some may be controversial, and in the coming days in partnership with legislative leadership will focus on solutions to the opioid crisis in a special session over the next month, Ducey said.

Gov. Ducey says he'll increase education funding with money from government reform (+ Video) HouseFloorSpeechBegins

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard and Senate President Steve Yarbrough open the legislative session on Monday, Jan 8, 2018. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol TV

2:10 p.m.

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard and Senate President Steve Yarbrough called the Arizona Legislature into session in preparation for Gov. Doug Ducey’s State of the State address.

1:20 p.m.

Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to talk about increasing funding for schools and raising teachers’ pay among other priorities during his State of the State address at 2 p.m. today at the Arizona State Capitol.

“We are going to continue to advocate on behalf of teachers and on behalf of more resources for the schools,” Ducey said in a television interview with Arizona Public Media. “We’re going to work with the Legislature and have a responsible budget so we can put those dollars forward.”

Former Arizona legislator and a political analyst Stan Barnes said in a news story on KTAR News 92.3 FM he thinks the 2018 legislative session could “easily be less than 100 days,” because it is “an election year and legislators and the governor want to get out to campaign full-time.”

Gov. Ducey says he'll increase education funding with money from government reform (+ Video) Senate-Chorale

The Valley Christian High School chorale from Chandler sings America the Beautiful at the Arizona Senate Opening Day ceremony. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol TV

12:00 p.m.

Arizonans could watch the opening day ceremony in the Arizona Senate live on Arizona Capitol TV and through many other media outlets.

Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson (District 9) said it’s important for legislators and Arizonans to know that although legislators may come at issues from different sides that they work together more often than people think.

In other action, Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria (District 21) let her fellow senators know that she was resigning from the Arizona Legislature to run for the U.S. House seat left vacant when Republican Rep. Trent Franks resigned.

The Arizona House of Representatives opening day ceremony was also availalbe on Arizona Capitol TV, Azfamily.com, KTAR, The Arizona Republic and many other media outlets.

 

Gov. Ducey says he'll increase education funding with money from government reform (+ Video) House-BagpipesJPG

A bagpipe band ushers in the beginning of the Arizona House of Representatives Opening Day Ceremony. Photo courtesy of Arizona Capitol TV

During his opening comments, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler (District 17) encouraged legislators and Arizonans to show respect and courtesy to each other and to treat others the way they themselves would want to be treated.

A Capitol Media Services article noted that with allegations related to sexual harassment against two members still pending, Mesnard opened the 2018 legislative session with a call to all — especially the men — to do better, noting that “we can still hope to hold each other to the highest standard of conduct, insisting that we be true gentlemen.”

Assistant Minority Leader Randall Friese, D-Tucson (District 9) gave a moving speech and asked for a moment of silence to remember and honor the victims of the January 8, 2011 shooting in Tucson.

10:52 a.m. During a briefing this morning in the Rose Garden at the Arizona State Capitol, Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix (District 24) and other Democrat legislative leaders talked about their priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

Afterwards, the Arizona Legislative Democrats released a document with those priorities and education and tax fairness were at the top of their list.

“Small steps in the right direction have not changed the fact that Arizona has one of the most poorly funded school systems in the nation. On top of that, our schools are facing a fiscal cliff with the looming expiration of Prop. 301. We must do right by our kids and boost our economic strength by securing a long-term, sustainable, K-12 investment increase and a curriculum that reflects the diversity of our state. We must stop Arizona’s teacher exodus crisis and find a way to pay our educators a competitive wage. And we will protect taxpayer money by making charter schools transparent and accountable to the public they serve,” according to the priorities document.

 

Among their education priorities are:

  • To secure a secure and meaningful and permanent teacher pay increas
  • Find a long-term funding solutions for our schools
  • Create a property weight for the school funding formula
  • Repeal the ethnic studies ban
  • Hold charter schools to the same standards of accountability and transparency as district schools.

8:45 a.m.

Arizonans will hear what Gov. Doug Ducey proposes to do to boost public K-12 education funding during his State of the State speech at 2 p.m. today as the Arizona Legislature convenes.

Last year, many Arizona teachers saw an increase in their salaries thanks to Prop. 123, which settled the inflation funding lawsuit, and some also received a one-time 1.06 percent bonus the Arizona Legislature approved during the last session.

On Saturday, thousands of Arizonans took part in the March to Save Our Schools and Support Public Education at the Arizona Capitol just days after AZ Schools Now, a coalition of business, faith, and education groups, presented legislators with options that would invest $1 billion back into K-12 education to provide sustainable, permanent and equitable funding for public schools.

Education continues to be the number one issue facing the state, according to two recent surveys of Arizona voters.

Seventy six percent of voters surveyed said that too little funding is going to K-12 public education in Arizona, and 86 percent said teacher salaries are too low, according to a December 2017 survey of 600 Arizona voters on behalf of Expect More Arizona. Sixty three percent of voters surveyed said they would vote for increasing taxes in order to provide additional funding for Arizona’s public schools, according to a December 2017 survey of 500 Arizona voters on behalf of Stand for Children Arizona.

Restoring some of the nearly $1.5 billion cut from classroom resources for the past nine years will be a priority for some Arizona legislators when the new session starts in January, a difficult proposition given a projected deficit and a vow by the governor not to raise taxes.

Daniel Scarpinato, spokesman for the governor, said improving school funding and increasing teacher pay remains among Ducey’s top priorities, according to an article in The Arizona Republic.

“I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, that we’ve been able to put $700 million additional dollars into K-12, that we’ve been able to pass Prop 123,” Ducey said in an interview Sunday with the Associated Press. “But I realize that more investment is needed and necessary.”

“I’m not raising taxes,” Ducey said in an interview with  Capitol Media Services, insisting he can find the money elsewhere in the budget, because the economy is growing and the government is operating more efficiently. But Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs,  responded that “We’ve got all the change from the couch cushions that there is.

Senate President Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler (District 17) has also said he is considering substantially reducing a cap on corporate tax credits for private school scholarships, and a bill to do that would need a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers of the Arizona Legislature to become law, according to an Arizona Capitol Times article.

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