Don't destroy education, lawmakers told
Arizona Daily Star
Feb. 14, 2009



Aaron Mackey and Andrea Rivera

Tucson, Arizona | Published:

Backed up by cheers and standing ovations from an exuberant crowd, dozens of parents, teachers and educational leaders called on members of a legislative committee meeting at Flowing Wells High School on Friday to do all they could to spare public education from further state budget cuts.

Speakers asked members of the House of Representatives Education Committee to look at all options including raising taxes to help offset budget cuts they said would devastate the state's K-12 and higher-education systems.

Lawmakers already have approved a series of cuts that sliced $130 million from K-12 education and $142 million from the state's universities in order to bring this year's budget into balance, with a $2.4 billion deficit looming next year.

Options unveiled by key legislative leaders to balance next year's budget include slashing another $800 million from K-12 and close to $300 million from universities.

Before the hearing, more than 75 concerned parents, students and education supporters rallied in a choir room at Flowing Wells to address 2009 cuts and proposed cuts for the 2009-10 school year and waved signs to passing motorists on North Flowing Wells Road.

Here's a look at what some of those present at the hearing and rally had to say:

"If we can't get a hold on this soon, we're not only going to be driving away businesses from this state; we're going to be driving away families who might not want to come here." Rep. Nancy Young Wright, D-Oro Valley

"The universities took more cuts than any other state agency. This year, education was the No. 1 casualty. Next year, let us be your No. 1 antidote." University of Arizona President Robert Shelton

"The state and nation are facing challenging times, and no one has identified a clear path forward. I'm not hearing any solutions. We think we can be part of the solution." Pima Community College Chancellor Roy Flores

"Make education the foundation of Arizona's future and a last resort as you consider the 2010 budget." TUSD Superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen

"Education is the most important thing to me. My future depends on my education, and if the budget is cut, how am I supposed to better myself if we don't have the resources?" Pueblo High School sophomore Melissa Shaw

"I'm not crazy about paying more taxes, but I do think it's important to fund education. It's a top priority with me, and it should be for everybody." Grandparent Kathy Pastryk

"This legislative body is making choices that are crippling my child's prospects for the future." Amphi parent Lisa Ferko