Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ducey Delivers Disparity (Political Rant)

Well, they are at it again.

The Arizona Republican legislature and new governor, Doug Ducey, want to cut funding to Arizona universities. This time Ducey proposed cuts to state funding for Arizona universities of ten percent (community colleges could be cut even more -- up to 50 percent) because Arizona is facing a billion dollar deficit.

We at the University of Arizona been under this gun for a long time now, but the cuts on top of cuts are getting harder to take. Those who can least afford it are being asked to pay far more than those who can.

Ducey wants to balance the budget, and keep the universities running, by again forcing regents and university administrations to raise tuition and fees. He wants students and families to pay more.

Cutting spending has been the default response to budget shortfalls for the last several decades, and the poor and young are the ones paying most to fill the holes. Not only are they being asked to fill the holes, but they have been paying higher tax rates. Yes, that's right, the poorest pay more of their incomes to states -- states that then cut funding for education, forcing families to pay more for higher tuition. Ducey, true to state tax rates in general, likes to double dip the poor, get it coming and going -- fat city for the fat and double zingers for the working classes. 

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the bottom 20 percent on the US income pyramid pay, on average, about 11 percent of their incomes in state taxes. The top one percent pay about 5 percent. Washington state taxes the bottom twenty percent at a rate of 16.8 percent, while the top tier of tax payers kick in only 2.4 percent.

State tax rates have been notoriously regressive for a long time, but Ducey has no plan to address that. 

It goes without saying that the bottom twenty need that money more than those who have two or three or more of everything they want with money to spare, to invest, to play with.

As a Republican, Ducey will not consider increasing revenue in a fair way, especially by raising taxes on those who can most afford it.

He buys into "supply side" views of economics that see giving money to rich people creates jobs.

Never mind that that view has been debunked by generations of economists and historians. 

Yes,  a billion dollars is a big number. And Ducey could look at many ways to fill the hole, but asking the wealthiest Arizonans to kick in is not on his radar

He knows that students are not all that politically organized or active and that university faculty, staff, and administrators will gripe but will eventually roll over in resignation because they are no match for a conservative Arizona electorate that votes primarily out of self-interest.

That will have to change if  Arizona wants a better future.

The reasons to fund education are many. Education boosts the economy, raises quality of life, encourages innovation, creates opportunity, keeps democracies healthy.

Ducey thinks short term, bottom line, and his policies add to the already widening gap between rich and poor in Arizona.

But he does want to increase funding for prisons. At least the young can look there when higher education is out of reach. 

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