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Senate President Biggs on critics of the education funding plan

“Just a few weeks ago, Arizona’s Governor, Republican legislative leadership and the education community came together for a landmark agreement. The plan agreed upon would add $3.5 billion to our schools over the next ten years. Voters will decide the fate of what is now Proposition 123 in May.

Before the ink even dried on the Governor’s signature, the critics were already out sniping at the Legislature. Instead of celebrating an agreement that will put billions into K-12 education, they say we’re not doing enough for education. Seriously?

One advocacy group put out a press release last week slamming the legislature for funding education at a rate lower than 2008. The suggestion was that Arizona is falling behind all other states, now that the recession is over. What the group didn’t tell you is that per student funding is lower than 2008 in 25 states! Yes, half the country. And I wonder how many of those other states just passed a plan to increase education funding by $3.5 billion.

These legislative critics continue the false narrative that additional spending automatically leads to academic achievement. In the years when they are most vocal about education spending, our state made improvements on the National Assessment for Educational Progress, while other states remained flat or on a decline. More money is not the silver bullet. Common sense reforms and an increased focus on the individual student are helping Arizona climb up.

While we were working to put together the best proposal for Arizona’s schoolchildren, friends joked to me that critics would say billions and billions of new dollars going into K-12 with no tax increase just isn’t enough. That ‘joke’ has become the reality, and for that, I am disappointed.”

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