We will be starting a new series called “Watering the Grassroots” on our Blog page. Here we will offer opinions and articles written by our very own STVDems Precinct Committeepersons about current events or bills in the Arizona legislature. If there’s something in particular you’d like to see, please let us know!
The Trifecta of Bills that Disrespect Public Education
By Eric Kadel
Retired School Teacher & School Administrator
Proposition 208 was passed in 2020 by 51.75% of the state voters which would allow a 3.5% tax surcharge on taxable annual income over $250,000 for single persons or married persons filing separately, or $500,000 for married persons filing jointly or heads of households to increase funding for public education. These monies would be used to increase teacher salaries and fund school initiatives, which I believe we would all agree on needs to be done. How many of us were behind the Red For Ed movement and cheered on the teachers as they marched on the capitol? However, JD Mesnard (R-17) has sponsored SB 1783 which would create an alternative tax system which would allow some businesses from paying the new surcharge. By sponsoring this bill it appears Sen. Mesnard and his Republican henchmen would rather have the financially struggling citizens of the state have their taxes increased so as to improve public education rather than those who can afford the tax increase to pay their fair share. Republicans believe that the 99% should pay more than their fair share so as to not inconvenience the 1%. An example of: If you don’t get what you want, then change the rules so you can!!
If you are not able to stop the raising taxes that would adequately fund public education, then you should devise ways on how to siphon those monies off to support your cause. Here JD Mesnard (R-17) has sponsored SB 1273 to expand School Tuition Organization (STO) tax credit vouchers to cover: band uniforms, extra curricular activities, lab materials and even out-of-state school trips. Band uniforms are a necessity for schools that have bands, but what if your school doesn’t have a band because they can’t afford to pay for a band teacher? Sure, relieving the school expenditure for lab materials would be great, but if your school doesn’t have a lab or can’t utilize the lab because it no longer meets building code then what? What could your neighborhood public school do with an extra million dollars?
Lastly, SB 1280 sponsored by Rick Gray (R-21) and striker from Shawnna Bolick (R-20) feel that parents who have their children attend “choice” school should be compensated for their transportation. As long as parents live within 20 miles of the “choice” school they would be eligible for an $80 / month grant without any oversight or verification. Are we really incentivizing parents to take their children to school? What happened to getting your child to school as being a parental responsibility? Those parents chose to enroll their students in a school that might be 20 miles away from their house, so they should be held responsible for getting their students to school without compensation. Republicans want us to choose between providing parents with a financial gain versus providing safe buses for public school students.
Fellow Democrats we need to open the REAL EYES of our neighbors so they REALIZE the truth versus the REAL LIES.
Contact your state Senator and Representative NOW to OPPOSE SB 1273, SB 1783, SB 1280 so as to protect public education.