Roberts: Ducey ally calls for tax increase for schools? Breathe, governor

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One of Gov. Doug Ducey's key appointees says Arizona needs to boost the sales tax by a penny to properly fund schools.

Laurie Roberts: One of Gov. Doug Ducey's key appointees says Arizona needs to boost the sales tax by a penny to properly fund schools.

Just in time for Gov. Doug Ducey’s re-election bid, one of his own guys is calling for a major tax hike to properly fund Arizona's public schools.

I picture Ducey breathing into a paper bag.

Jim Swanson, chairman of Ducey’s Classrooms First Initiative Council, says the schools aren’t going to significantly improve unless they get more money.

Swanson, the CEO of Kitchell Corp., told Capitol Media Services’ Howard Fischer that the state’s 0.6-cent education sales tax needs to be boosted by a penny to 1.6 cents on the dollar – and quickly – to make real improvements to the public school system

Breathe, governor.

 

Ducey in 2015 set up the Classrooms First Initiative Council, charging a group of business and education professionals with proposing changes to the school funding formula in order to get more money into the classroom. But Swanson told Fischer that raising taxes is the only way to significantly improve the schools.

Ducey gave Fischer the usual response, that schools are rolling in dough as a result of his latest budget and Proposition 123 – his proposal to give the schools a portion of what they were already owed in inflation funding.

 

Ducey figures school budgets will grow as the state’s population grows – “without raising taxes.”

But Swanson said he doesn’t see a way to grow out of the financial hole in which our schools currently  reside. He said 25 years of state budget cuts – cuts that total $4 billion in lost revenue, according to a study by ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business – have left the state unable to properly fund schools.

His tax proposal would raise an additional $1 billion for schools.

 

"From a business perspective, properly funding education is probably the greatest economic development thing we can do in our state," Swanson told The Arizona Republic's Alia Raulast month. "We need to work on a plan, and the time is now." 

Deep breaths, governor. 

Swanson says a tax hike for schools – along with an extension of the 0.6 percent tax that expires in 2021 – should go before voters in 2018.

Yep, the same time that our governor – the one who has pledged to cut taxes every year – will be seeking re-election.

So what is the likelihood you’ll see a tax increase for schools on the same ballot as Ducey? Is it:  

A. None

Or B. None.

Meanwhile, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee staff recently reported that state is now spending $270 less on your child's education this year, when adjusted for inflation, than it was in 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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