The Circus Returns: Send In The Clowns

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Lock your doors: The circus is back in town. And here’s the worst part: They’re passing laws. Alas: the Legislature continues to juggle hedgehogs and sell tickets to the freak show, while out here in the real world students struggle.

Let us offer one small example.

Lawmakers gained national headlines by passing a law allowing business owners to invoke religious freedom to determine who they do business with. The national media seized upon the hastily enacted law as fresh evidence the state’s run by gun-loving, race-baiting crazies. Now, granted, we suspect the law wouldn’t have had nearly the impact its critics claim. But the furor spurred two weeks of legislative scurrying about — and eventually prompted Republican Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the law pushed by her own party.

Meanwhile, on Monday the Payson School Board listened to Chief Financial Officer Kathie Manning’s budget report, although no one knows what those two-headed snake charmers in the capital will do when it comes to a budget for K-12. We know they made the deepest education cuts in the country during the recession, while handing out corporate tax cuts.

So what’s the plan now that the economy’s growing and the surplus and reserves have topped $1 billion?

More of the same, evidently.

Gov. Jan Brewer has proposed a paltry 1.4 percent increase in the base funding. But thanks to other take-aways, mandated programs and cost increases, Payson schools may have to cut $1 million out of existing programs.

Meanwhile, even Gov. Brewer’s budget ignores the desperate need of districts like Payson to patch up leaky buildings and replace ancient school buses.

The lawmakers themselves seem intent on creating legislative sideshows while all but ignoring education —except a couple of bills to opt out of Common Core, increase support for private schools and crack down on district-operated charter schools.

So don’t go out into the street while these clowns are in session, because you’ll likely get trampled by the elephants. Of course, keep a shovel handy because once the parade passes we’ll all be picking up pachyderm poop.

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