Arizona schools and taxpayers are once again embroiled in a conflict regarding how public schools will be funded.
Although Proposition 123, which is supposed to raise $3.5 billion for the next 10 years just, passed in May 2016, they are continuing their search for increased funding.
One idea being proposed by Dick Foreman, President of the Arizona Business and Education Coalition, is to increase energy costs in every home in the state by $1.25 per kilowatt-hour, which will be phased in over three years. They say it will generate $1.4 billion per year.
Foreman argues this is not a tax, but a fee. He says residents can lower this “fee” by choosing not to use as much electricity as they would on a normal day-to-day basis. Foreman goes on to say low-income residents can opt for income based discount programs or use one of the state or federal assistance programs in order to offset costs.
Scott Harelson, spokesman for SRP told “AZCentral”, “This proposal lacks credibility because it would break economic development by unduly burdening electric customers across the state,” Harelson stated. “SRP cannot support a measure that would subject electricity customers, from residential to industrial, to an increase of 20 percent increase — or more — in their monthly power bills.”
This comes on the heels of a poll done by the Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite, saying 20 percent of voters who voted for Prop 123 in May, now say they regret their vote.
This could be attributed to the fact that as that money was doled out; it was not going where taxpayers were originally told it would go. Taxpayers were told teachers would receive raises, however, in some districts; teachers are receiving just 20 percent of the money they were given via Prop 123.
Teachers in the Peoria school district will net an extra $53 every two weeks. The rest of the money will go to computers, school buses and textbooks.
This could explain why Arizona is ranked third worst place in the United States to teach. Many teachers are disenfranchised. They worked hard to get this proposition passed, only to see nothing of what they were promised come to fruition.
The “Arizona Republic” reports, Daniel Scarpinato, a spokesman for Gov. Doug Ducey, said the governor pitched the plan to voters by saying school districts would have flexibility to spend the money as they saw fit.
”Certainly teacher raises are positive,” Scarpinato said. “But we know there are a lot of needs in the school system, and in public schools. But ultimately, those are decisions that need to be made by superintendents and school boards. The governor believes it’s important that they make wise decisions if we’re going to continue advocating for additional dollars.”
Those who were in opposition to Proposition 123, were concerned about the lack of oversight once funds were dispersed. They were apprehensive about where the money would end up once it was given to the districts.