Speaker's bill rejected, Hull's plan awaits final vote
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Arizona 2000's 0.6 percent sales tax increase could hit ballot
After a series of intense debates lasting well into the night, the House Monday rejected Speaker Jeff Groscost's education finance bill, which brings Gov. Jane Hull's Arizona 2000 plan to its third reading and final vote today.
"I think that the House of Representatives should be a battlefield of ideas," said Rep. Mike Gardner, R-Tempe. "The governor had an idea and the speaker had an idea, but his idea was not sellable, it did not reform the educational system."
"In the battle of ideas, the governor's plan won," he said.
The main point of controversy between the Hull plan and Groscost's plan was the method of funding for the education reforms. Many representatives criticized the provision in the Groscost's plan that would have gleaned 4 percent off the budgets of other departments.
These reductions could have had such effects as cutting into pay raises for correction officers in the department of corrections and eliminating elderly outreach programs in the department of economic security.
Some House Republicans said they felt Hull's method to fund education with a 0.6 percent sales tax increase conflicted with Republican ideals. The debate over how to fund the reforms created a great deal of division within the Republican majority in the House.
"Groscost was the big loser. I am sorry that I had to leave the ranks with the Republicans," said Rep. Kathleen Dunbar, R-Tucson. "The speaker refuses to work with the governor, he had no cards to play."
Many representatives are optimistic about the impact that the governor's plan will have on the educational system and feel confident it will pass.
"I think we will have a healthy margin of victory," Gardner said.
The representatives are taking great measures to make sure that they pass a bill the people will want to vote for.
As a result, the House is pursuing greater accountability in the bill.
Accountability means that, "there is going to be more money in the school system and that money will be spent in the classroom, not in the district office. This is very innovative and long overdue," Gardner said. "I think people will be willing to invest their money in these programs if they can be guaranteed that it will not be wasted."
In addition to providing more money for the classrooms, the Hull bill could increase teachers pay.
"This will cause a great deal of enthusiasm across the state of Arizona," he said. "I think this gives more incentives to be a teacher, it brings back the nobility to the profession."