Who are the Republicans attacking Arizona’s Education?
By Jenny Guzman
Arizonans across the state have showed up for education in a historic way — from massive state-wide teacher strikes and pro-education marches, to passing a long-needed wealth-tax to help fully fund our Arizona education system. Proposition 208 passed during the 2020 general election, and received 1,675,810 votes, with approximately 52% of the vote and also received more votes than President-Elect Joe Biden, or Donald Trump did this election.
Now, there is a group of Republican politicians that are teaming up with one another to find any possible way to undermine the education funding initiative–including a joint lawsuit attempting to challenge the constitutionality of the education-funding proposition. This Republican coalition to invalidate the Invest in Education initiative includes Republicans from both legislative chambers, and even statewide politicians.
On the Arizona House of Representatives side, House Speaker Rusty Bowers is one of the lead figures fighting to overturn the proposition as one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. However, due to his role as Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, Arizonans should take note of his likelihood to attempt to attack portions of Prop 208 through the state legislative route as well. Other members of the House that joined the lawsuit to overturn Prop 208 include Rep. Regina Cobb from LD-05 (Kingman), Rep. John Kavanagh from LD-23 (Scottsdale, Fountain Hills), and Rep. Steve Pierce from LD-01 (Prescott).
On the Arizona Senate side, Senate President Karen Fann has jumped back into her notorious role of attacking any type of funding for Arizona’s students. Arizona voters should expect the Arizona Senate to hear bills not only attempting to weaken Prop 208, but also other attempts to undermine public education as a whole throughout the state. Senate President Fann is joined on the lawsuit with other members of the Arizona Senate including Senator David Gowan from LD-14 (Pearce, Sierra Vista, Safford), and Sen. Vince Leach from LD-11 (Maricopa, Casa Grande, Eloy, Oro Valley).
As the Arizona legislative session begins for the 2021 session on January 11th, it is important to keep an eye out for legislation on either chambers that could be used as a way to try to attack different parts of Prop 208. Attacks against the education initiative should be expected on every level possible, and Arizonans should be prepared to fight back against these valueless claims.
One of the statewide politicians also involved in the lawsuit is Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, who is rumored to be eyeing a run for the upcoming Governor election. What all of these Republicans who are mostly trying to advance their own career don’t seem to understand, is that Prop 208 was incredibly popular. The Invest in Education initiative and the Red for Ed movement were the result of a long overdue grassroots effort that historically transformed the landscape of education across the country. Outwardly opposing the voter-passed initiative is only going to negatively impact them in the long run.
At the end of the day, Arizona Republicans involved in joining the lawsuit against Prop 208 and introducing bills to weaken Prop 208 are only doing so because their extreme wealth and net worth is more valuable to them than a thriving Arizona education system or the future of our students. It is now left to everyday Arizonans to defend their right for a sustainable future for Arizona’s children.