Gov. Doug Ducey appears to have solved one of the hairiest problems in Arizona politics: How to give more money to teachers—without raising taxes—and settle a long-standing billion-dollar lawsuit filed against the Grand Canyon state by its own school districts. Mr. Ducey, a former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery, apparently knows how to wheel and deal.
Arizona ranks near the bottom of states by total per-pupil funding for K-12 education. Voters tried to fix the problem in 2000 in the usual way: by throwing money at it. They approved a referendum to raise the state sales tax to 5.6% from 5%, with all of this new revenue to be reserved for education. The measure was designed to ensure that school funding kept pace with inflation. The language required the legislature to annually raise the base-level school funding or increase other educated-related expenditures.
My job requires me to follow all the awful things happening in the world; after all, that’s what makes up the news cycle. War and death and poverty and injustice (okay, and a few cat videos) fill my computer screen from the moment I wake until I go to bed. By the fourth day of the work week, it’s easy to cycle between outrage and despair.
Many on all sides succumb to this emotional low road, which is why there’s so much anger about failed politicians, terrible policies, and broken promises. Our grandparents would yell at the newspaper, our parents at the TV, and now we vent on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube, amplifying the misery. In the past few years, we’ve seen mobs shutting down freeways and burning down neighborhoods while students at even the most exclusive universities screech about the raw deal they got in life.
Last year, Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana, thanks to a popular initiative. I was happy with the voters’ decision, even though I’m not a fan of weed and would recommend people avoid it. Our society doesn’t need another way to avoid reality, but the drug war has staggering costs, both in personal freedom and government spending. That’s why I’m happy to see a few states roll back the restrictions on something as commonplace as pot.
Earlier this week, Ohio voters rejected a referendum to legalize grass, though this proposal also created an unwieldy cartel to distribute the product. I was fine with Ohio voters’ decision, as well. My own state of Arizona is expected to have a ganga legalization vote next year and, though I’m currently undecided, I wouldn’t be surprised if I voted against it. So why am I fine with Coloradans and Washingtonians passing around blunts, and also fine with Ohio and Arizona just saying no? It’s not as inconsistent as it seems.