Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, January 5, 2015

How many different ways can you say, "Unfunded Mandate?"

Sunday evening, the Arizona Republic's website posted an op-ed under the byline of five school district superintendents, titled "School leaders: Why we support all-day K bill."

Of course, there is no bill... yet. But apparently there will be, sponsored by RWNJ Rep. Brenda Barton (R-LD6/Payson) and lobbyist whore (and Sen. elect) Jeff Dial (R-LD18/West Chandler) who is Rodney Glassman's BFF.
Gov.-elect Doug Ducey has said, "Any new funding for public schools must go directly into the classroom, identifying what works and focusing on English literacy for all students in this state." No proposal more squarely aligns with Ducey's vision than additional classroom time for kindergartners.
Working with Phoenix attorney Rodney Glassman, we are sponsoring legislation titled "Additional Classroom Time for Kindergartners."
Our bill requires that every kindergartner in Arizona be provided the opportunity to attend full days of studies at our public schools. The individual choice of "full vs. half day" will continue to rest solely in the hands of each student's parent. To avoid administrative difficulties, separate curricula for half-day and full-day classes will not be required.
First, any claim that Scrooge McDucey has vision for anything other than eliminating the state income tax and decimating Arizona's economy is a pipe dream.

Second, an aside, the December op-ed under Barton and Dial's byline says, in a tag line at the end, that it was also signed by [faux Democrats] Carlyle Begay and Catherine Miranda as well as fellow Republicans Karen Fann and Doug Coleman.

Third, Barton and Dial make a valid point about the importance of early childhood education,
Students suffer — facing greater academic and social challenges — when they do not receive the proper foundation of early childhood education. Research shows that once kids fall behind, they almost never get back on track.
Rather than providing any additional funding for the mandate in the bill, their proposal to make the school districts pay for it out of the funding expected in settlement of Cave Creek Schools v Ducey is diametrically opposed to local control... as if the additional funding wasn't already needed to address overburdened teachers and too large class sizes.
With valuable feedback from Senate President Andy Biggs and House Speaker David Gowan, we have refined our vision into a clear and concise one-page bill. Once law, this legislation will guarantee every kindergartner throughout the state receives additional classroom time to learn their ABCs, the basic rules of English and the basic concepts of math.
The Joint Legislative Budgeting [sic] Committee has concluded that our bill will have no fiscal impact on the state budget, and our legislation will not go into effect until the inflation-funding lawsuit, Cave Creek Unified vs. Ducey, is resolved.
"Once law..." awfully cocky statement by Barton, Dial, Miranda and Begay.

In other words, the GOP legislature whipped Arizonans into a frenzy because of policy measures implemented under the Napolitano administration (all-day K was one of them). Now, however, that the courts have determined the legislature must comply with the voter mandate and dramatically increase K-12 funding, our Republican legislature no longer is interested in local control.

Of course all-day K is a great idea. But come on, Ducey has no substantive vision* for school improvement and these lawmakers, along with pretend Democrat Glassman think they can pull one over on the courts, on school administrators and on Arizona citizens.

The school superintendents who wrote the op-ed recognize the unfundedness of this proposal.
This legislation creates a permanent mandate without a funding mechanism. As educators with nearly two centuries of combined experience, it's a mandate our state must support. Arizona's commitment to our youngest students cannot ebb and flow with state revenue. Additional classroom time must be the responsibility of every school and an option for every parent.
While school districts have a myriad of needs ranging from aging school buses and outdated text books to ever-growing student-teacher ratios and STEM education aspirations, there is no greater priority than kindergarten classroom-time to develop effective social skills, teach the fundamentals of English and math, and set trajectories for future success.
But they dance around the fact that it was the Republican legislature that ELIMINATED the all-day K that Dems had worked hard to get implemented several years ago.

For perspective, consider the ruckus the legislature has raised over the 2013 Medicaid restoration passed by a bipartisan coalition. One of the most vigorous objections was that the enhanced federal funding MIGHT eventually be eliminated by Congress, which then would shift the funding burden to the state legislature.

On the subject of unfunded mandates, on the federal level legislation was enacted in 1995.
Federal legislation enacted by the United States Congress and regulations promulgated by federal agencies often compel or prohibit certain activities by state, local, and tribal governments and by the private sector. To comply with or carry out these laws and regulations, subnational entities usually incur expenditures and sometimes suffer revenue losses. Enacted as an amendment to the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (“UMRA”), aims to promote informed decision-making by focusing congressional and administrative deliberations on the costs incurred by intergovernmental entities and the private sector in order to comply with federal legislation and regulation. UMRA’s primary purpose is “to end the imposition, in the absence of full consideration by Congress, of Federal mandates on State, local, and tribal governments without adequate Federal funding.”
The legislature decided several years ago to require JLBC to estimate the impact on the STATE general fund for legislation that may have a fiscal impact on the STATE government. BUT... they do not provide that analysis for the fiscal impact on political subdivisions (counties, cities and towns, school districts, etc.). This allows the legislature to claim they are enacting fiscally responsible measures when they are simply shifting the cost from state agencies to cities, counties and school districts. The result sometimes has been that county and school district property taxes increase when the legislature cut income taxes.

Congress acted in 1995 because "subnational" government representatives knew the issue and advocated for change. On the state level, in order to enact unfunded mandate reform, voters would have to demand it from lawmakers. That's far less likely because corporate media isn't doing its job of informing the electorate adequately on the issues.

On an ironic note, I found some insight on micromanaging, which is another angle on this particular proposal, from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). The organization generally supports the stupid stuff done by the Arizona legislature but it tells it straight about micromanaging.

The micromanager is the manager who must personally make every decision, take a lead role in the performance of every significant task and, in extreme cases, dictate every small step the workers take. To many employees the micromanager is, in modern parlance, a control freak.


* NOTE: the only thing McDucey would say about "his vision" for improving school performance, during the election season, was that he wanted to make all the schools like the Arizona high schools that made a nationwide list of the best schools. He offered no details that I've been aware of. Of course, making the thousands of public schools in our state that good would take massive funding increases. We know that won't happen. The billion dollars the court says the legislature must come up with won't fund expansion of programs.

1 comment:

  1. Governor Ducey only wants private schools in Arizona with only the wealthy and privileged allowed to have their kids educated. Governor Ducey and his allies want an uneducated workforce that they can enslave and exploit.