This is the legacy of 2010's Prop 100 here in Arizona. A 1% sales tax, originally proposed to help protect education and health care from being gutted in the state budget -- except that they were gutted anyway. And the same folks who proposed the sales tax in 2010, who asked us to "suspend disbelief" that this would happen, who later complained of being betrayed by the governor who backed the sales tax? These same people are now advocating this year, for a replacement for this sales tax when it expires in 2013.
It's not as if I signed Grover Norquist's no-tax pledge or anything, but I possess enough of a long-term memory to be somewhat skeptical.
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.So this was the news on Friday, of a new ballot initiative being filed.
The initiative proposal is backed by groups representing parents, university students and contractors, and an organizer said the signature-collection drive would depend both on volunteers and paid circulators.I see some familiar promises being made here. An estimated $1 billion to be raised by the sales tax. Money for K-12 schools, universities, infrastructure, social services. Protection for school funding.
"It's a true grass-roots effort," said Ann-Eve Pedersen of the Arizona Education Parent Network. "This is really being organized by citizens."
I'll be curious to see how they intend to protect existing funding while adding to it with this sales tax money, considering how that didn't work out too well last year. Going back to 2010, this was basically the fear put into...well, anyone interested in education in Arizona.
According to the conditional budget, if Proposition 100 fails to pass the following cuts to education funding would occur: $428 million loss to K-12, $107 million loss to universities, $15 million loss to community colleges.I can understand why a proposed cut to K-12 schools like that would scare folks. And while Jan Brewer went against the typical Republican anti-tax reflex and campaigned for this sales tax increase in 2010, not exactly inspiring support in me to go her way...I did end up voting for the new tax, because I prefer to try to fund things like education and health care. So what did we get for it?
The fiscal 2012 budget cuts $454 million from education and $564 million from health programs. Public safety was relatively untouched, while the Department of Corrections got a $10 million increase.Looking at the 2012 executive budget summary I can see cuts like $170 million to the University system and a $64 million hit to Community colleges. So while K-12 education was not gutted, in spite of the new sales tax revenue, our universities and community colleges took a bigger cut than was anticipated before the tax money was added in. I can't help wondering if the 'conditional budget' in 2010 was put together specifically to scare K-12 parents into backing the tax. Clearly it didn't help higher education in our state whatsoever.
Now let me see, who was speaking up about it around this time.
Ann-Eve Pedersen, the education network's president, faults Brewer for not sticking with her proposed education budget.Yeah, it's the same organization who backed the sales tax in the first place, and the same organization who now supports the ballot initiative to replace it, filed on Friday. That's right, they promised to only cut so much and the tax would replace it. Then they cut more!
It would have cut about $116 million from K-12 instead of the $183 million Brewer ultimately signed off on. (Of those amounts, $35 million was replaced with federal stimulus dollars, reducing the actual cut.)
"We do feel betrayed by her," Pedersen said. "We went out and told people we would try to protect education."
So I honestly don't know how to conclude this diary. I don't come down firmly, either against this new proposal, or for it. I voted for the new sales tax in 2010, with some misgivings, and I'll probably vote for the next one in spite of the lessons of the past year, just because I'd rather try to help than give up.
I just can't help wondering what supporters like Ann-Eve Pedersen have to say for their efforts in 2010. If they remember what happened in 2011, and what they had to say about it. And most important, what (if anything) they propose to do differently.