What’S More: $8 Million Or $1 Billion?


Arizona State Treasurer Doug Ducey did everything he could to defeat Proposition 204 and ensure Arizona remains dead last when it comes to funding public schools.

Now he’s bragging on a change in the formula for calculating money owed to the schools from the sale of state lands that will increase school funding by about $8 million.

So let’s get this straight: Ducey headed up efforts to defeat a proposition that would have provided nearly $1 billion annually for dreadfully underfunded state schools — but now with a straight face puts out a press release trumpeting a $9 per student increase from Proposition 118?

What’s the word for that?

Gall? Hypocrisy? Chutzpah?

At minimum, Ducey’s brag that he bagged an ant at the picnic while the jackal ate the baby feels like an insult to the intelligence of the voters.

But then, we did mostly re-elect the lawmakers who made Arizona schools the worst funded in the nation. So maybe insulting our intelligence now seems like a low-risk proposition.

Of course, technically — we’re talking two separate issues.

Proposition 118 makes minor changes in the way the state treasurer’s office calculates earnings from the $3.67 billion fund that collects revenues from the sale and lease of state land and distributes it to the state’s schools. The change in the formula should provide an estimated $20,000 boost in funding for Payson schools.

Gee. That’s nice. We can use that money to buy lawmakers some calculators. Question for the day: How many times does $8 million divide into $1 billion. And as a bonus question to pass your AIMS test: Which is bigger — a million or a billion?

Of course, Proposition 204 had its flaws — like relying on the volatile and regressive sales tax instead of something like a progressive income tax to fund schools — the state’s single most important responsibility.

Republican lawmakers crusaded against the measure, arguing that the voter-approved tax would tie the Legislature’s hands in a future crisis. Trust us — they said in effect — we’ll take care of the schools.

Well suckers: Good luck with that. At least, that’s what it feels like listening to Ducey’s brag on hooking a minnow while a whale swims past.

So now we head into a new legislative session, with no promise at all from the Legislature when it comes to restoring the $2 billion in education cuts.

Officials like Ducey seem to think that the voters can’t tell the difference between $8 million and $1 billion. So now maybe lawmakers will just strip the copper wiring out of the schools they’ve shuttered and gutted. Don’t worry about an educated workforce. Don’t worry about retaining good teachers. Don’t worry about the next generation. What’s the word for that? Darn, it’s right on the tip of our tongue ...

Oh, yeah.


Spirit of Christmas

Christmas looms.

Check the balance on the credit card.

Draw up the list of relatives and hangers on.

We know. Our list is long. Our available balance is small. Still, we thought we’d make one suggestion before the season spins out and the credit limit tops out.

Buy local. Pleaaaaaaase. Check out the local merchants, the frosty Christmas lights, the craft shops, the small-town events. Make an event out of the shopping excursion, without spending $60 on a tank of gas to the Valley and back.

Remember that that local sales tax pays for your police protection, your fire protection — almost all of the town services. Remember that the sale supports the jobs of your neighbors and friends. Turn shopping into a creative act — that supports the beloved community.

And while you’re at it, find some people on your list who will appreciate donations in their name to local charities. Rim Country is blessed with a wealth of such organizations, all struggling mightily in the shadow of Christmas — when faith and charity too often contend with materialism.

We can always honor December’s Birthday Boy, who said: “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.”


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