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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“The Wildcat editorial board weighs in on Propositions 200, 400, 401, and 402”

It’s Election Day in Pima County, and the Wildcat encourages all students to be involved with Tucson politics. Even non-residents should care about the election results, as they will be living in Tucson for however long it takes them to graduate or move elsewhere. The following propositions encompass education, budget spending and safety, and all of these things can affect a student’s experience in the city of Tucson. If you haven’t voted yet, it’s not too late to decide what to do about these propositions. The Wildcat is here to provide last-minute insight to help you at the polls.

Proposition 200

Essentially, proposition 200 aims to add a minimum staffing level of 2.4 police officers per 1,000 city residents. Proposition 200, while increasing public safety, is an unfunded mandate. The initiative will cost over $150 million the next five years, as well as $50 million ever year afterwards. It would be amazing to hire more cops and firefighters, but we have no way to pay for it.

The most likely source of funding will be increased property taxes and diversion of funds from, and subsequent cutting of, many other city programs. This proposition is devoid of fiscal responsibility and reinforces irresponsible government legislation. Any increase in public safety resources must be accompanied by clearly defined revenue-producing mechanisms. Without the pairing of this initiative with clear sources of revenue, this prop significantly diminishes fiscal transparency and further threatens budgetary viability.

A better, cheaper alternative would be for Tucson to adjust its priorities and use officers more effectively, focusing more on safety and less on red tags.

Vote “”No”” on Proposition 200.

 

Proposition 400

Proposition 400, on the other hand, increases local autonomy on budget limitations for the city of Tucson. The “”Home Rule”” allows the city to set forth alternative expenditure limitations, as opposed to the state-imposed limitations set in 1979-1980 and adjusted for population increase. The alternative limitations amount to a $42 million over the next four fiscal years, so fears of irresponsible overspending are grossly exaggerated. This law is an extension of the “”Home Rule”” votes approved in 2005. If that had not passed, Tucson would have been forced to deposit $21 million this year when already facing a $46 million deficit.

As Arizona struggles with a multi-billion dollar deficit, state-imposed limitations seem like anger management classes taught by Mike Stoops. There is no standing, practical or philosophical, to refuse the city authority to make minor adjustments.

The four-year adjustments allow for increased operational funds to help insulate the city against day-to-day effects of the economic downturn. Should spending be increased or curbed during economic downturns? It’s necessary to support increased spending to counteract the burden that already affects Tucsonans. Apart from minor increases in spending, it’s even more critical not to tie the hands of local officials and voters in favor of outdated budget limitations.

Vote “”Yes”” on Proposition 400.

Proposition 401

According to the Tucson Unified School District Web site, Proposition 401 will ask TUSD residents to approve a 7 percent maintenance and operation override. As a result of the estimated $45 million TUSD budget cut, school programs have been reduced and full-day kindergarten at all schools is at risk, according to the Web site. The 7 percent override is requested to provide around $190 extra per student for schools to use, guaranteed full day kindergarten, increased speed and access to technological learning in the classroom. The money will also fund additional resources that school site councils will recommend for use based on what is needed most at their schools, which can be anything from decreased class size, increased art or music instruction and/or improved counselor or library resources.

Kindergarten is a child’s foundational education experience, so it’s important that kindergarteners get maximum classroom time. “”Proposition 401’s real aim is to get full-day kindergarten,”” TUSD Staff Attorney Michael Areinoff said. “”With the latest budget cuts a lot of schools have been given, they’ve had to get rid of it.”” This full school day will transition them into the time-consuming school environment, and they’ll have more time to learn everything that should be covered in the curriculum.

An increase in art or music instruction would diversify a student’s educational experience as well as give them a break from academics. Should the school site councils choose to decrease class sizes, teachers will have the opportunity to give each student individual attention. Most of all, students can have access to counselor services should the administration allocate fund increases in this area. Voteing “”yes”” for Proposition 401 to aid in providing practical and necessary sources for TUSD schools.Vote “”Yes”” on Proposition 401.

Proposition 402

Proposition 402 asks TUSD residents to approve a capital override that will allow the district to use resources to improve educational technology available to students. According to the TUSD Web site, the district has fallen behind in education technology availability, so the capital override will “”address the need”” of replacing up to 10,0000 malfunctioning or worn out classroom computers. This means replacing inefficient business operations software to maximize resources for the classroom, and replacing worn out or failing network infrastructure equipment that currently limits technology access for students in the classroom, according to the TUSD Web site. The Web site also states that the district seeks authority to exceed its capital outlay revenue limit by $9 million per year, and the proposed increase will be in effect for seven years.

TUSD is also rife with theft, especially with respect to technological items. Last month’s Arizona Daily Star article, “”TUSD working with Tucson police after rash of computer thefts,”” reported that “”in a matter of two months, a combined 64 laptops and 25 digital cameras have been stolen from Tucson High Magnet School and Cholla High Magnet School. The estimated cost to replace the computers at Tucson High alone is $62,000. Replacement computers for those lost at Cholla is estimated at $14,000.””

Any increase in technological resources should be paired with security methods or held until TUSD can demonstrate the ability to protect expensive items. Otherwise, the city of Tucson is just bringing Christmas early to thieves.

Setting aside the burden of having to protect new purchases, technology should be considered secondary to basic education. It’s necessary that kindergarteners get full classroom time before TUSD schools see an influx in new technology. Before promising these resources, TUSD should prioritize general educational expectations, which include decent class sizes, full-day kindergarten and library and counseling services.

Vote “”No”” on Proposition 402.

Editorials are determined by the opinions board. They include Alex Dalenberg, Justyn Dillingham, Laura Donovan, Daniel Greenberg, Heather Price-Wright, Dan Sotelo, and Anna Swenson.

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