The organizer of a proposed permanent one-cent hike in state sales taxes on Tuesday defended earmarking 10 percent of the proceeds for road construction.
Ann-Eve Pedersen said Arizona has cut state aid to education in the last five years more than any other state. She said Proposition 204 would provide needed tax dollars the Legislature cannot take. If approved, the measure would initially raise $1 billion a year. But 10 percent automatically goes for roads. Pedersen said that is justified.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety is reporting a backlog of thousands of fingerprinting applications from teachers statewide. The delay could be a problem as districts gear up for the start of the school year.
DPS is reporting a backlog of at least 12,000 fingerprinting applications. Fingerprint clearance is a crucial step in teacher background and criminal history checks.
Last week alone, DPS received nearly seven thousand new applications.
Officials generally process about 5,000 fingerprint cards per week.
The sound of school buses is familiar during the school year.
But residents of Chino Valley now hear those sounds only four days a week.
Jon Scholl, with the Chino Valley Unified School District, says cutting back on bus service saved the district money.
“We go to school Monday through Thursday," Scholl said. "It did not decrease the minimum number of minutes that we still need. Whether you’re on a five-day week or a four-day week, it’s the same. Our students just go to school a little bit longer to make up for that fifth day.”
An initiative drive launched today seeks to let voters decide if they want to make permanent the 1-cent sales tax set to expire next year.
The proposal would earmark about 75 percent of the billion dollars a year for education, mostly for K-12 funding but also for college scholarships. Initiative organizer Ann-Eve Pedersen said this is not just throwing money at the problem, with some public school funding tied to performance.
Students at the state's three universities are no longer in danger of having to pay $2,000 a year out of their own pocket.
Rep. John Kavanagh said while tuition is approaching $10,000 a year, the record shows about half of all students pay absolutely nothing at all toward that bill. He said they get a mix of state aid and federal grants. Kavanagh said that lack of what he calls skin in the game makes students less serious about their studies. So he proposed that minimum $2,000 investment, whether personal funds or borrowed. But Kavanagh said today he is giving up.
The 2010 voter-approved medical marijuana law allows those with a doctor's recommendation to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. While the measure bars use of the drug on public school campuses, there is no such ban at colleges and universities.
The Senate Education Committee voted today to let schools opt out of the federal school lunch program.
The program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture pays schools to offer free or reduced-price lunches to students based on family income.
Sen. Rich Crandall said he has nothing against the program. But he said that current and pending rules could make it unduly burdensome. For example, he said there are situations where schools are charging students less for lunch than the subsidy they are getting from the federal government.