Frequently Searched

The Misplaced Priorities of the Prop 204 Campaign

October 28, 2014

At the height of the recession state revenues had fallen by a third. With the money that was left, simple math shows that the legislature could not have maintained spending on education and social programs, which together make up 70 percent of the state budget. If they’d tried, it would have meant zeroing out prisons, the state legal system, State Parks, and several departments that protect public health. Even the 1-cent sales tax increase would not have prevented the closure of fundamental state agencies if the legislature had not reduced education and social service funding to some degree.

Even still, during the darkest days of the recession, school funding was only reduced by 5 percent.

By criticizing these reductions, Prop 204 supporters are implying that the legislature should have closed prisons, letting pedophiles roam free, shut down the Attorney General, leaving child support cases unsettled, and hurt kids by compromising recreation and public safety. Looking to the future, the legislature has wisely saved some money to avoid more budget reductions when the federal health care law fully kicks in and state health care costs skyrocket, but the Prop 204 campaign criticizes that, too.

The solution offered by the Prop 204 campaign is to permanently funnel $1 billion annually to schools with no strings attached. Here’s the irony. As education funding was reduced to cope with the recession, schools chose to direct less money to the classroom than ever before. They preferred to fire teachers than reduce the ranks of non-teachers on school payrolls. In 2011, only 55 cents of every education dollar was dedicated to classrooms.

When it comes to questioning priorities, I have to question those of the people running the Prop 204 campaign. Criticizing the legislature because they avoided letting pedophiles out on the street while rewarding with a billion-dollar blank check the very schools that fired teachers rather than bureaucrats sure seems backwards to me.

Learn more:

Goldwater Institute: The Myth of Education Cuts

East Valley Tribune: Census Shows Arizona School Districts Cut 10,000 Jobs



More on this issue

Donate Now

Help all Americans live freer, happier lives. Join the Goldwater Institute as we defend and strengthen freedom in all 50 states.

Donate Now

Since 1988, the Goldwater Institute has been in the liberty business — defending and promoting freedom, and achieving more than 400 victories in all 50 states. Donate today to help support our mission.

We Protect Your Rights

Our attorneys defend individual rights and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Need Help? Submit a case.

Get Connected to Goldwater

Sign up for the latest news, event updates, and more.