EDITORIAL for April 25-27, 2018
I’m CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof. Nearly everyone is aware of the fact that Arizona teachers are walking off their jobs in an attempt to get higher wages. The teachers note that Arizona teacher pay is close to the lowest in the nation. They have a point. One of this station’s part time workers has been a teacher for many years. He’s found that he can make more money driving a truck. And he doesn’t have to put up with unruly kids either.
Our state government leaders say that they are in a financial bind. Governor Doug Ducey has made an offer of a substantial raise over a three year period but critics say that much of the money Ducey would give to teachers would be taken away from other educational needs such as books, computers and school maintenance.
The obvious questions are why the state is so strapped financially and is there really no way for the state to come up with enough cash to give teachers the professional wages that they deserve?
Before we can answer that question we must first have a better understanding of the people who run our state legislature. For as long as anyone can remember, the Arizona State Government has been run by an extreme element of the Republican Party. Some call these people conservatives while critics call them the radical right.
There are certain principles that are dear to the radical right and one of them is to make government as small as possible. Never spend a penny unless you absolutely must. Accordingly, we see the state passing expenses down to county governments, municipal governments and school districts.
Another principle that the far right loves is making the state attractive to rich people. The thinking is that if enough rich people can be lured into Arizona they will spend their money employing poor people. Many economists will tell you that it doesn’t work that way. The real reason for making Arizona attractive to the rich is that big business and rich people contribute big bucks to the Republican Party.
Be that as it may, the far right has no use for income taxes as they hit hardest at the rich. So the far right, including Governor Ducey, would like to eventually do away with the state income tax and raise the sales tax. Sales taxes hit mostly the poor and middle class. But the fact is that only a slight increase in the state’s income tax would provide plenty of money to education though the far right has no use for income taxes.
Yet another thing that the far right loves is the concept of being tough with criminals. Their solution is to enact mandatory sentencing laws and three strikes laws and they love to boast about putting lawbreakers behind bars for years and years. If the crime has even a hint of sex that makes it ten times worse and the far right loves to boast about all the safety they create by locking the prison cells and throwing away the keys. Experts on human behavior have other ideas and they point out that the severity of the punishment is not the main factor in determining if a crime is going to be committed. The one certainty is that huge prison sentences are an enormous expense to the state. The longer the sentence the more it costs the state. So quite possibly the taxpayers are being punished even more than the crooks. So are the school kids.
Did you know that there are over 40 thousand people locked up in the Arizona prison system? That’s like locking up every man, woman and child in Sierra Vista. All of those people are total wards of the state. We must pay for their housing, food and medical costs as long as they are in custody. No wonder the Department of Corrections needs over a billion dollars a year. Is there any good reason why Arizona must have one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation? The reason traces back to having our state run by the most extreme element of the Republican Party. Some of that billion dollars spent on prisons might be better spent on education.
Here’s another interesting fact: The states that spend the least on education are overwhelmingly Republican. The states that spend the most on education tend to be run by Democrats. Does the Arizona Republican Party know that? Of course they do. Education is their enemy.
So is there anything we can do to get more funding to educate our kids? My opinion is that the answer is a resounding “yes”. Later this year we can change the makeup of our state government and also elect a governor who will give more than lip service to education.
But before any of that can happen we must abandon the notion that the Republican Party can do no wrong and that we must vote Republican no matter who the Republican nominee is. We can also try to locate some moderate Republicans to run in the Republican primaries. But as long as we automatically vote for the Republican candidate no matter who it is, our education will suffer and so will our children who are Arizona’s future.
I’m CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof and the opinions you’ve just heard are mine and not necessarily anyone else’s. If you’d like a copy of this editorial or you’d like to express your opinion go to the CAVE web site and select “Editorials”. We’re at CAVEFM.com. CAVEFM.com.