Despite failed efforts, supporters of Prop 204 look to future of improving education funding
Despite the failure of a proposition that would temporarily extend a 1-cent sales tax aimed at strengthening the state economy and education, supporters remain focused on moving forward.
Proposition 204 failed to pass on Nov. 6, with 36 percent supporting the proposition and 63 percent opposing it. Following the failure of the proposition, there have been mixed reactions regarding the future of education funding in the state.
“I see this as an opportunity for the future,” said Jordan King, Arizona Students’ Association vice chairman of the board of directors and chairman of internal affairs. “I think it really opened the eyes to the lawmakers of Arizona that this is something students are struggling with and there are a lot of students going into debt and if we don’t find a way to take care of that soon, it could affect the overall amount of students really attending the universities.”
King said ASA directors will discuss what to do next and then meet with state representatives and the state legislature in the spring to come up with a plan that will benefit students.
ASA gave $122,000 to the Quality Education and Jobs Committee in support of the proposition, which was part of about $2 million brought in by the committee since February to help sponsor the proposition, according to Ann-Eve Pedersen, chair of the Quality Education and Jobs Committee.
“I think as an organization, as a board of directors, we saw Prop 204 as being beneficial to help college students afford tuition and afford college,” King said. “I think as an entire board of directors we saw Prop 204 as going to benefit the well-being, the affordability and the accessibility of education, which is our mission statement.”
Some commented on the overall benefits the proposition would have provided the state, and the possible consequences now that it has failed.
“Arizona’s schools are facing a major funding crisis and it’s only going to get worse with the expiration of Prop 100,” Pedersen said. “Prop 204 was needed because our schools do not have enough money to function.”
Voters approved Proposition 100 in 2010, which temporarily increased the state’s sales tax but is set to expire in May.
Pedersen said school districts are looking at school closures and other necessary cuts because “Arizona’s legislature is not providing adequate funding for our schools.”
However, some state representatives said that the failure to pass the proposition would not have a negative impact.
“This will not affect school funding,” said Arizona State Rep. John Kavanagh. “Schools will continue to get the formula increases, there will be no reduction of school funding because of the loss of Prop 204. The money was no longer needed, that’s why there was no need for the tax.”
Kavanagh also said that $177 million in education funding was restored in the past and that restoration will continue as the state’s economy recovers.
“I was pleased that the voters understood that raising taxes during a recession should be the very last resort and that when you’re coming out of recession you don’t need to consider it,” he added.
Regardless of the outcome, now that the proposition has failed, King commented on the need for better communication and collaboration. He said that in moving forward, the state needs to find a plan to help fund education, which he said some felt Prop 204 would not have done.
“I think the best thing to do from here on is just have as much communication as possible,” King said. “When we have a lack of the communication there’s obviously going to be a lack of understanding about the needs of the students and we can’t have that. Our goal is really going to be to be as communicative as possible.”