Arizona Education Network Press Release on Education Budget Cuts

 

April 1, 2011 –

Governor Brewer yesterday showed complete disregard for our state’s faltering economy when she failed to defend public education funding as she had promised she would.

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On Tuesday, former Intel CEO Craig Barrett, warned legislators that Arizona will not be able to attract good -paying jobs without investing in education.  He warned that Arizona’s “education cutbacks don’t bode well for that.”

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Yet, the House, in the dead of night – after striking a compromise with Brewer and the Senate – pushed through $454 million in cuts to education funding.  They also cut teacher salaries by increasing the amount teachers must pay into their pension plans.

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Schools across the state had been planning their budgets for next year based on Brewer’s proposed budget.  But her failure to stick up for her own plan is now going to push school districts, our community colleges and universities into last-minute, emergency plans based on much deeper cuts than expected for the coming school year.

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Not only will the budget cuts damage the state’s economy in the long-term, there will also be short-term hits as schools, colleges and universities eliminate thousands of jobs.

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“More middle-class jobs will be lost, more middle-class homes will foreclosed, more schools in middle-class neighborhoods will be closed and middle-class property values will continue to plummet,” said Ann-Eve Pedersen, president of the Arizona Education Network, a parent-founded organization that advocates for public education.

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“Our middle-class families understood that education funding is critical for their own survival.  That’s why they voted overwhelmingly last year to tax themselves more in the middle of a recession to pay for public education,” said Pedersen.  “Yet, the Governor, who made herself the face of Prop. 100 as she was running for re-election, and the Legislature, showed true lack of character by violating the public’s trust with these deep cuts to education.”

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While completely ignoring the voices of regular Arizonans, this Legislature did listen to lobbyists for the business community, passing $538 million in tax cuts for corporations, promoting the legislation as a “Jobs Bill.”

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These enticements are supposed to attract business.  But the former head of one of our state’s major private employers just told the governor and legislators that Intel would never locate in Arizona again because of this state’s lack of investment in education.

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“A true Jobs Bill is one that properly funds education, not one that diverts even more money from the general fund, when we don’t have enough money to pay for basics at our schools,” said Pedersen.

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Arizona’s business community is also to blame for remaining silent while these cuts took place.  They spoke out against proposed immigration legislation, saying it was bad for the tourism economy.  But they refused — even after being urged by education supporters —to speak out in defense of education funding, which has an even closer tie to our state’s economic health.

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“When Arizona’s big businesses can’t find employees with the skills they need, when their new employees make simple errors that cost the company thousands of dollars, when long-time employees move out of state because they can’t educate their children in Arizona — these business owners will only have themselves to blame,” said Pedersen.

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