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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Father and Daughter: On Procrastination

There is a lesson that UA students can teach our state legislature: Ultimately, you have to stop procrastinating and do your work.  

It’s as if our elected leaders — though there is precious little leadership evident — are just shutting their eyes and wishing for a solution to materialize out of thin air. That way, they won’t have to make any hard choices. Those of us who are accountable for deadlines and results every day know that such a deus ex machina is simply not happening; mere mortals actually have to do their jobs.

The current reality is grim. We are in the second quarter of the 2009-2010 fiscal year and the state is operating in a deficit. Current projections indicate a $1.5 billion gap between revenue and planned spending between now and June 20, 2010.

The projections get worse at each report, and the members of the Legislature cannot seem to marshal the will to address the problem. The peril to education is glaring; with K-12 and higher education accounting for more than 55 percent of state spending, the avoidance of tough decision-making put all of us at great risk.

The legislature is far too likely to look for a simple solution; they will just cut spending. The longer they procrastinate, the more likely it is that legislators will revert to the thought-free exercise of employing budget cuts that cannibalize education, and it will be students and their families who will pay the price.

Such actions would be devastating to our state. Budget cuts that starve public schools of needed resources and stifle access to our higher education opportunities would put a chokehold on economic development across Arizona. This would drive our economy deeper into recession and strip away the chances for upward mobility and economic opportunity for today’s students.

It is time for action. The community of Arizona must recognize that we cannot rise from this economic pit by continuing to dig; we need a way up and out. Cutting spending at this point will only multiply our losses. We need additional revenue to invest in our future.

So that’s the tough decision. Responsible legislators will have to start the conversation about increasing certain taxes. There is no other strategy for real investment. The people we elect must take action to provide the basic services that citizens expect. Let’s stipulate that such decisions and actions are not easy, but let’s remember that these officials sought election to make these decisions.

It’s time these people did the job they were elected to do: provide for a well-funded and high performing state government — including a network of quality schools. The time for procrastination is over, and the assignment is due. The state legislature needs to heed the lesson students have been learning all along: Get to work.

— Heather Price-Wright is the copy chief of the Daily Wildcat. John Wright is the president of the Arizona Education Association.

 

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