Our state legislature has been discussing next fiscal year’s budget. There is a surplus this time, and legislators and the governor are debating how to spend it. Governor Ducey, it seems, would like to spend the surplus on increasing the state’s “rainy-day fund,” to be used in an emergency, such as another financial crisis. Some legislators have a different idea: spend the money on more income tax cuts.
While I see reasons for saving some of the state’s money in a rainy-day fund, and I admit that many people would in principle like lower taxes, it seems that it would be most prudent to raise education funding to at least pre-2008 levels.
School budgets were cut supposedly as an austerity measure to keep the state from raising taxes or going into too much debt during the recession. Now the recession is over, there is a budget surplus, and instead of restoring funding to schools (not to mention things like public highways, snowplows, and rest stops), our government is talking about getting rid of the money, or saving it somewhere, as though everything has been fixed.
Before we talk about more tax cuts or saving the state’s money somewhere, we should fund our schools well. We need more teachers. Better paid teachers. Better paid staff. We need our schools fixed, and our roads fixed. Once the austerity is over, then maybe we should talk about tax cuts and rainy-day funds.
By WINSTON FREDRICKSON