The current economy has created a crisis situation for K-12 education in Arizona. Serious cuts and school closures are in the works in order to close budget shortfalls. For example, in the Tucson Unified School District there is a $17 million budget deficit and fourteen schools are planning to be closed.
Such huge budget shortfalls in education have major ramifications for the future. For this reason, the voters had the option of approving Proposition 204 that would create a permanent one-cent tax per dollar with the majority directed at education and the rest at highway projects and social programs.
Considering these are all needy programs, why did 65% of the voting population vote no on this bill?
The reason oft cited for the no-vote is the tax’s permanency. Voters are not ready to accept a permanent tax in the current economy.
Because of this permanency, the bill has also lost many sponsors including Governor Jan Brewer. The biggest issue though was that John Huppenthal, the Superintendant of Public Instruction, not only failed to comment on the proposition, but failed to take a stand by the proposition itself which would help his failing public education system.
How will these budget shortfalls be closed? Voters will now have to deal with the tightening of the state’s budget, and accept the hard reality of closed schools, larger class sizes, and funding cut to vital programs such as fine arts.