Arizona in dire need of Proposition 204
By Colton Darger
Despite the national spotlight on the glamorous presidential election, one of the most important things you will vote on this election year is Proposition 204. While debates about Big Bird and bayonets are obviously appealing, and make for excellent tweets, Prop. 204 — officially titled “Quality Education and Jobs Act” — will directly affect you as an NAU student; university tuition and scholarships, as well as the overall state of our education system, are contingent on Arizona voters.
It is imperative the voters of Arizona see through the incessant stream of political commercials and make an informed, rational choice when voting on Prop. 204. Criticisms against the proposition are clearly based off of ultraconservative ideology and are detrimental to the quality of the Arizona education system. The importance of education in producing an innovative, competitive state should not be underestimated, and the success of Arizona students should not be a partisan issue. A “yes” on prop. 204 is the best choice.
Central to this proposition is the permanent continuation of the one-cent sales tax. Contrary to what right-wing politicians purport, this is not a new tax increase on Arizona citizens, but simply a continuation of the sales tax rate which was voted on in 2010 with a stringent plan fund distribution. Therefore, Arizona citizens will not see an increase in taxes. The revenue generated by Prop. 204 is estimated to be approximately $1 billion, with 80 percent going directly to education. Opponents also argue there is no way to ensure the money raised will actually reach the classroom. While it’s true there is no direct mention of classroom spending, according to azcentral.com, it does explicitly detail how the money raised will be disbursed to school districts, where elected board members will decide how the funding will be used. Clearly, the fundamental suspicions regarding this prop are misplaced.
One of the most important components of this proposition will set a minimum funding limit for K-12 schools and universities at the 2011-12 or 2012-13 fiscal year amounts, depending on which is greater. This means Arizona legislatures, who are notorious for slashing education spending in a state with already minimal education expenditures, cannot cut funding for Arizona schools any lower than they currently are. This is critical for university students across the state, due to tuition hikes that can result from decreased funding. For example, if the legislature continues to cut funding for higher education, universities would be forced to raise tuition in order to make up for lost funds. Voting “yes” on Prop 204 would also ensure that universities receive $50 million, which would help keep tuition rates down and help students pay for college through scholarships.
Although a great deal of skepticism about the proposition exists regarding the allocation of funding to infrastructure and children’s healthcare, these are arguably a necessity of an effective education system. In order for students to receive the education they need to be competitive in a struggling work force, they must be healthy and have the necessary infrastructure to attend school. Even if voters are skeptical about how these funds directly relate to education, they should consider our crumbling infrastructure and inadequate healthcare system.
It’s crucial for Arizona voters to understand that although presidential elections are entertaining, local elections will have a direct effect on their everyday lives. If education is something that you believe should be protected, then vote “yes” on Proposition 204.