If Prop. 100 fails, so will Arizona’s education system

For most Arizona students, May 18 will come and pass just like any other date.

It will only be in hindsight that they will learn of Prop. 100, a bill that proposes to temporarily raise the sales tax by 1 percent until May 31, 2013, and how their “yes” vote could have saved Arizona’s education system from being crippled beyond repair.

Gov. Jan Brewer plans to allocate two-thirds of the revenue generated from the sales-tax raise to directly fund Arizona’s floundering K-12 system, the rest going to fund health and human services and public safety.

If Prop. 100 is voted down, however, 15 to 20 percent of teacher positions may be eliminated, according to the Arizona Education Network.

Additionally the state’s three universities, which are left unscathed in the basic budget proposal, would stand to endure a $100 million reduction in state funding, roughly half of which is assigned to ASU, according to President Michael Crow.

“We are strong supporters of Prop. 100,” Crow said. “Many friends of ASU are contributing to the campaign. We consider it essential.”

Arizona’s universities have already suffered tremendously in the wake of the recession, enduring a massive 21 percent reduction in funding, according to an ASU press release.

As a result, tuition for residents entering ASU in the fall will rise to $7,793, while continuing resident undergraduates will pay between $6,607 and $7,322.

The universities could lose another 10 percent of state funding if Prop. 100 is not picked up by voters.

Crow said it is too early to determine whether the failure of Prop. 100 would result in further tuition increases or furloughs. However, he warned that the $50 million reduction in funding would be not go unfelt.

“We would have to change programs and the number of seats available in certain programs: nursing, engineering, business, journalism, architecture, science. Those are exactly the programs that we need for the state to be successful.”

Opponents of Prop. 100, such as the GOP and National Federation of Independent Business, argue that the 1 percent sales tax increase would hurt small business and working families.

Indeed it is true that Prop. 100 would leave a bit less money in your wallets, but this fiscal hindrance is negligible when compared to the severe permanent damage that would be done to the state’s education system if the bill were not to pass.

“The economy is not in a 50-year crisis; the scale of the cuts to the universities is greater than the economic concerns,” Crow said. “We are spending more on prisons on a per person basis than universities.”

It is not out of urgency, but out of thoughtless greed and apathy toward educating youth, that our state’s education systems will crumble.

Prop. 100 is not an issue of tax ideology or partisanship but of simple pro-con logical analysis and should be the imperative concern of any individual who places value on the future of Arizona’s education system.

Fifty-five days from now the fate of Arizona State University will be placed on the ballot.

Where will you be?

Hal urges you to go out and vote on May 18. Send him your thoughts at hscohen@asu.edu

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