Whatever the final numbers, the outlook for education in Arizona is grim. Blame the Kookocracy. Blame the governor, wealthy Republican Douglas A. Roscoe Jr. aka "Doug Ducey." Or credit them. A majority of Arizonans voted them in.
Education Week's respected Quality Counts report ranks Arizona 47th overall. The state has been down in the basement with Mississippi in per-pupil funding for years. By no measure has funding kept up with student population or dealt with inequalities among districts.
Similarly, higher education has received ever-decreasing portions of the state general fund. The slash-and-burn cuts that are imposed every few years are never restored.
The new regime intends to double down: at least $104 million in cuts to universities, elimination of all state support for the largest community college districts, and, despite a claim of increasing K-12 funding, a serious reduction there because the promises aren't in real dollars. Including inflation, the actual spending on K-12 will be a 13.5 percent reduction from 2005-2006.
Now, my mother said, "If you can't say something nice about a person, become a newspaper columnist." In that spirit, I can't even credit the Kooks with originality. They are merely playing out a national strategy being enacted in every state capitol where Republicans hold sway.
Even so, Arizona has suffered so many decades of such vandalism, the consequences will be more severe. Real lives will be affected, opportunities to escape poverty and climb the ladder of opportunity smothered. The damage won't stop there.