School cuts have been 3 percent - Tucson Local Media: Editorials

School cuts have been 3 percent

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Posted: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 12:00 am

Two days before Christmas, my Democrat opponent penned another editorial, again blasting away at me, and focusing on my support for tax-credit programs that allow taxpayers to support schools and extra-curricular programs through voluntary giving.

Ms. Cage claims these programs cost our schools and our state money when they do not. A report from Baylor University estimates the savings to the state general fund are almost twice the cost of the credits themselves.

More important than Ms. Cage's disregard for facts is her relentless partisan sniping. When we campaigned in 2008, we articulated our competing visions. My vision of a smaller, lower-tax government was selected by the voters over hers of a larger, higher-tax government.

And a good thing for Arizona that it was. Ms. Cage's proposals for more taxes and more spending mimic the Democrat Congress's federal plans, and the disaster-in-the-making those policies represent would make Arizona's budget crisis worse.

Still, Ms. Cage's permanent campaign won't let her move beyond attacks even for a few months while we focus on solutions. While Ms. Cage continues to attack, I am working at the Capitol to try and figure a way out of Arizona's problems. We face a multi-billion dollar deficit, yet Ms. Cage and her Democrat allies in the Legislature have opposed every attempt to reduce anything from our government, countering that higher taxes and "shared sacrifice" is the only way forward. They have pursued a policy of pure obstruction, hoping that voters will blame Republicans and ignore that every time Republicans get 90 percent of our members together and need just a single Democrat to contribute and provide the final vote for passage, Democrat leaders browbeat their members into voting "No." Always "No." On every spending cut "No," "No," "No," putting political gain before what is best for our state.

As a campaigner, I'm happy to point out that the liberal Democrat playbook of no spending reductions and $3 billion in higher taxes is suicide. Yet as a legislator and representative of this district, I choose to spend my time pursuing solutions to this incredible economic pit. Too bad Ms. Cage does not.

Finally, as with nearly every op-ed, I must again respond to Ms. Cage's mantra that I am trying to "destroy" education, "dismantle" education, or whatever poll-tested phrase she used this time. K-12 funding makes up 42 percent of general fund spending, which faces a 30 percent shortfall. If we reduce from every program equally, we would reduce 30 percent from education. Instead, FY2009 and FY2010 reductions were each less than 3 percent, or about $126 per student per year. So instead of nearly $9,700 per student of federal and state funds, we now spend $9,450.

I work hard to protect education in these tough times and we would all be better served if Ms. Cage would contribute solutions instead of Christmas attacks.

Republican Al Melvin represents District 26 in the Arizona Senate.

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