During the past several years, Tom Jenney, the Arizona Director for Americans for Prosperity, and I have crossed paths in agreement on many critical issues involving the misuse of money by our state officials. I have found Tom to be a tireless defender of our money and how it is spent. However, I now find myself in only partial agreement with Tom as we approach tomorrow’s special election.
Mr. Jenny would have you vote no on Proposition 100 which is the proposed 1 cent sales tax increase which will be decided upon by the voters in tomorrow’s special election. Proponents of the tax state that the tax is needed to save Arizona’s schools, colleges and universities. Opponents of the tax state that the schools will continue to waste the state's money, only at a far greater rate .
What Mr. Jenny does not tell Arizona voters is that the state of Arizona is dead last in the nation in per pupil spending, teacher salaries, teacher workplace rights, and M&O classroom supplies for the school children. Dead last, yes that is right, the worst in the country!
Mr. Jenny also forgets to tell Arizona that next year's university tuition will rise by nearly 20% as many Arizona young adults see their dreams of attending college slipping away. And Arizona’s beleaguered teachers are still dipping into their own pockets to fund the supply needs of their classrooms without compensation. These are facts that cannot be refuted because they are true.
Tom Jenney cites the reasons that schools should further go under the budget knife is due to the fact that the various school districts "have flat-screen computers, pay six-figure salaries to too many administrators, and spend tens of millions of dollars on “greening” their buildings as they’re cutting teacher jobs. " The aforementioned statement by Mr. Jenny is largely hyperbole and lacks a firm statistical base for the claim. However, Tom would be correct in saying that Arizona’s schools routinely practice frivolous spending by taking wasteful trips taken for “retreats and conferences” by various school board members and district administrators. Tom would also be correct in stating, but does not mention the fact, that many school district offices are tremendously overstaffed, while classrooms in their respective districts cannot afford minimal custodial services.
Tom Jenny’s strongest argument for defeating Proposition 100 does indeed lie in the fact that money is wasted by the bureaucratic machines running education. However, I feel he fails to identify the root cause of the waste. The waste is not due to teachers and students . Arizona’s wasteful spending for education can almost solely be attributed to the fact that the ignoramuses running our state government have failed to earmark taxpayer funds for specific education purposes such as classroom supplies and teacher salaries and have allowed districts to misspend the much of the money alloted to them. The state has handed school district administrators a blank check, without many restrictions and this is why education is in the mess that it is in.
The education monies of this state must be earmarked, or the waste and fraud that Mr. Jenny identifies will continue. Mr. Jenny needs to make earmarking funds for specific educational expenditures a requisite part of his AFP platform.
Mr. Jenny states “they need to stop holding our children hostage and get serious about becoming more efficient” Come on, Mr. Jenny, let's get real. Since when does saying it always make it so? Make no mistake about it, when the voters rightfully defeat Proposition 100 because some feel that we cannot afford to continue to throw good money after bad, the school children and their teachers will be the only ones held hostage by this spend thrift governor and state legislature. A vote against Proposition 100 will crush the educational dreams for many children. Conversely, a vote for Proposition 100 will be a vote to continue the flawed funding system now wrongfully employed by the state for its school and universities.
Until this spend thrift state government is made to cut their waste as well as earmark education funds for specific classroom specific purposes, Arizona will continue to be the only state where nearly “EVERY CHILD IS LEFT BEHIND.”
Mr. Jenny, I do not disagree with your position on Proposition 100. However, I would hope that you would be working toward finding a solution which does not devastate our children and their futures instead of just criticizing and blindly defunding the status quo.