Arizona School Funding Struggles Continue; LBNs Bob Donley Reports

Gov. Ducey’s Plan Supported by New Study

Bob Donley reports that Arizona continues to struggle with finding the money it needs to fund its schools. [LBN has reported on this issue, most recently in June, 2015.] Lawmakers have not been able to agree on a solution, However, a new study by the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at Arizona State University supports an idea previously advanced by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.

Ducey has proposed that the state increase the amount it is withdrawing from its land trust and use that money now to provide increased funding for the state’s school system. Part of the appeal of this approach is that there would be no tax increase for Arizona taxpayers. Currently, the state withdraws only 2.5% from the land trust each year. Ducey wants to increase the withdrawal rate to 10% annually. Ducey’s plan would raise about $2 billion over the next ten years.

The trust fund would still be able to grow during that ten-year period, but not as rapidly as at it does right now. Scott Beaulier, who wrote the report, says that the plan would help children today at a time when they need help the most. The study assumes that Arizona’s economy will grow annually by about six percent.

The resistance to Ducey’s plan comes primarily from those who believe the he is trying to withdraw too much money from the land trust too quickly. Armando Carbonell of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy suggests that limiting the increase to seven percent would be a better plan and would help the trust maintain value. Some are suggesting, Donley says, that an increase of four percent would be even better.

Governor Ducey is sticking to his ten percent plan. If he gets his way, voters would consider the plan on the March, 2016 ballot.

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