Arizona ranks last in school funding, according to a report released by the National Education Association. According to a recent Morrison Institute-Cronkite poll, Arizonans are ready to do something to fix the problem. Education and water were listed in the poll as the state’s top two legislative priorities. Morrison Institute Director of Communication Joseph Garcia discusses the poll results in this report.
The problem in Arizona is a familiar one to voters everywhere: many people would like to see schools get more money, but there is little agreement on how to provide the money. Garcia says that there is a disconnect between Arizonans and their legislature on this issue. The Cronkite poll provided a list of twelve items that might be dealt with by the legislature. The results showed that education K-12 was the highest-ranked item.
And 62% of those responding said they would be willing to pay an extra $200 per year in state taxes to provide the funding. By party affiliation, that number comprised 75% of those who identified as Democrats, 65% of independents, and 53% of Republicans. The numbers suggest that this is not a highly partisan issue. However, Arizona’s new Governor Ducey has not been warm to the idea of more money for education. As Garcia says, Arizona will not be nicknamed “the education state.”
The other priority that emerged from the Cronkite poll was water management. Garcia points out that this is an important issue if Arizona wants to be a growth state. There is no statewide blueprint for water management. Everything is done regionally or locally—even by water companies. The Institute was pleasantly surprised by the high ranking of water management.
Law enforcement was third on the list. Interestingly, prison funding came out in last place among the poll respondents. This tracks with a common belief that if more money is spent on education, less will be needed for prisons. The Institute is considering a reform of the state’s criminal code.
Joseph Garcia is the Director of Communication at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University in Phoenix. He began work at the Morrison Institute in April 2009 after a career in journalism that included experience as a top editor, columnist and news reporter at The Arizona Republic, The Daily Times, Tucson Citizen, USA Today and The Associated Press. He is an instructor of journalism at Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He also has taught journalism at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.