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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tax surplus exists, school funding still uncertain

    Gov. Jan Brewer has achieved a great success. In the first month of Fiscal Year 2012, which started on July 1, tax collections exceeded their expected amount. State revenues came to a net total near $765 million. Brewer’s budget expected the total to be around $35.4 million less than this reported amount. So, in all regards, what a great job by Brewer. It’s truly remarkable that she was able to pull in such a tremendous amount of tax revenue. Unfortunately, a lot of metaphorical mouths had to go malnourished for this to happen. Sweeping state funding cuts were witnessed again in Brewer’s budget. Now that she has this surplus of funds however, the focus is on where it will go to.

    Many are chomping at the bit to have the money appropriated back into education. Public schools, and education in general, have suffered at the hands of Brewer’s budgets in the past. In last April alone, Brewer cut $183 million in state funding toward public K-12 schools. She also cut out $198 million from universities and $70 million from community colleges. That suffering doesn’t appear to be ending any time soon, unfortunately. When asked if she would appropriate any of the additional tax funds to education, Brewer was not direct. Brewer simply said that she would spend the money “wisely for the taxpayer.”

    Brewer also hesitated to answer if any further cuts to education would be made. Brewer said that she hoped education would be spared in the future. It seems as though Brewer isn’t the one calling the shots. When creating her budget for the new fiscal year, there were documented instances in which Brewer resisted her party and was reluctant to make cuts to education. Ultimately, she wasn’t able to save the schools entirely as they were still subject to funding fallout.

    Of course, nobody could realistically have expected Brewer to completely save education from losing some state funding. These are trying economic times and by no means is anything guaranteed. However, if Brewer were honestly committed to education, and had the intestinal fortitude to show it, this would be her opportunity. Even the most modest of gestures would help her case as being favorable to education.

    Schools have struggled long enough, and it’s time those hardships be healed. Not to mention amid all the funding cuts, graduation rates have been embarrassing. Last year high school graduation rates came in around 75 percent. But Brewer seems to have a plan in place for that. She’s moving with the trend of making everything available on the Internet.

    Brewer’s band-aid to the floundering public education system doesn’t include dollars; it includes a website where teachers, parents and students can get information on improving education. Instead of improving education now, or at least throwing a chunk of change at the education system, Brewer has created a website where we read about fixing education. Among the plans to fix education, third graders with subpar reading skills will be held back and schools will start receiving letter grades based on performance. Ah, yes the graders will now be graded.

    The only question is if the schools will be sent to the Governor’s office for inappropriate behavior. Will the schools’ parents be notified if they get bad grades? What if one school starts picking on another school, will they get demerits? The whole solution seems laughable.

    Look, the public schools system is falling apart and with no funding, it’s impossible to foresee any type of reconstruction. Yes, a plan is needed before we blindly throw money into a pit. But public schools have taken enough hits, now is the time to utilize what limited funds are available and give education the attention and funding it so desperately needs.

    — Storm Byrd is the Perspectives editor. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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