The most important priority our state faces in future years is continuing to restore funding to our K-12 schools and universities.
This is personal for me: as a product of our local public schools and a Mountain Pointe graduate, I’m fighting to make sure our schools are as strong for future generations as they were for me growing up in Ahwatukee.
Earlier this year, working with both parties, I supported an additional investment of over $400 million dollars into our schools. It’s the first step in a three year proposal that in the end will result in a twenty percent pay raise for our teachers and educators, and restore critical funding for textbooks, equipment, and school repairs.
This is a good first step, but there is still more work left to do. I will keep fighting to make sure additional resources go into the classroom, and help support our hard working teachers and educators in our community.
The cuts to our state universities don’t receive as much attention, but are just as striking: Arizona has cut more funding from our universities than any state in the country since 2008, and during that time, tuition has tripled and higher education has become unaffordable for many working families.
I’ve helped lead the fight on restoring support for our universities – I worked with both parties last year to pass a university bonding bill that will invest hundreds of millions of dollars over the next two decades to help expand our research capacity and grow the ASU Biodesign Institute and the U of A medical school.
Our community colleges need support as well. Since 2009, Maricopa County community colleges have received zero funding in the state budget, and I’ve introduced legislation to help restore some of that funding and invest in critical workforce development programs to help train our workforce for the new jobs coming to our community.
We have started to make some progress, and the last thing we should do is eliminate the state income tax, which is something my opponent wants to do. Doing so would eliminate $4 billion from our state budget, and have a devastating impact on our public schools.
Restoring funding to our K-12 schools also means stopping any attempt to expand vouchers statewide, which would drain resources from our local public schools.
My opponent supports a statewide expansion of vouchers, with zero accountability or oversight over how public taxpayer dollars would be spent at private or parochial schools. This is the wrong approach – doing so would further deplete resources from our public schools and lead to school closures and higher class sizes.
I’ll always champion our local public schools in the state senate – it’s why I was named a Public Education Champion by the Arizona School Boards Association, and why I’ve been endorsed by teachers and educators across the state. As a product of our local public schools, nothing is more important to me.
-Sean Bowie of Ahwatukee is the incumbent Democratic Senate candidate.