Legislative Update: Teacher protests, Prop 123 and proactive school shooting protections

More from this show

Teacher Protests

Educators throughout Arizona have been protesting low wages and insufficient funding both in public and charter schools. Steve Yarbrough, President of the Arizona State Senate, says he commends the educators for exercising their First Amendment right to free speech, and that the recent 20-year extension of Prop 301 will help with school’s funding issues.

Prop 123 Ruled Unconstitutional

A proposition signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey that would have provided $3.5 billion in education funding over the next decade was ruled to be illegal by federal courts. John Allen, Majority Leader for the Arizona State House of Representatives, is confident that the court’s decision will be restored in the appellate courts.

Governor’s Response to School Shootings

Ducey announced plans for protecting Arizona schools from potential shooters, including increased security on campuses, background checks and other changes.

TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO ARIZONA HORIZON. I'M TED SIMONS. TEACHERS ACROSS THE STATE HELD A DAY OF ACTION TO HIGHLIGHT LOW TEACHER PAY AND SCHOOL FUNDING. EVENTS INCLUDED A RALLY LATE THIS AFTERNOON AT THE STATE CAPITAL WHERE TEACHERS ANNOUNCED THEIR DEMANDS. JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THAT AND MORE IN OUR WEEKLY LEGISLATIVE UPDATE IS SENATE PRESIDENT STEVE YARBROUGH AND HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER JOHN ALLEN. WE SHOULD MENTION, WE SWITCH EACH WEEK DEMOCRAT AND REPUBLICAN. THIS WEEK, REPUBLICANS. THAT'S YOU. AMONG THE THINGS THEY ARE PROTESTING AT THE CAPITOL, THEY ARE SAYING YOU, LAWMAKERS IN GENERAL ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION.

SEN. STEVE YARBROUGH: WELL, TED, WE ARE PAYING ATTENTION AND WOULD BE IF THEY ARE PAYING ATTENTION OR NOT. I APPLAUD THEM. IT'S THE FIRST AMENDMENT. I HAVE NO DIFFICULTY WITH THAT. I DON'T THINK THEY SHOULD TAKE OFF FROM WORK TO DO IT AND CALL IN SICK WHEN THEY ARE NOT. I DON'T THINK THAT'S A GOOD WAY TO TEACH KIDS TO CONDUCT THEMSELVES, BUT THE UNDERLYING ISSUE IS IMPORTANT. I APPLAUD THEIR EFFORTS.

TED SIMONS: IS IT IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO GET SOMETHING DONE?

SEN. STEVE YARBROUGH: YES, WE ARE GOING TO DO SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT. WE EXTENDED PROP 301 ANOTHER 20 YEARS TO BENEFIT TEACHERS GOING FORWARD. THE BUDGET WE ARE WORKING ON CONTEMPLATES A HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS FOR FUNDING IN ADDITIONAL ASSISTANCE.

TED SIMONS: PROP 301, WE TALK TO TEACHERS ABOUT ALL THE TIME. THEY SAY IT'S A NECESSITY TO MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO BUT DOES NOTHING TO INCREASE TEACHER PAY. DO THEY HAVE A POINT?

MAJORITY LEADER JOHN ALLEN: THEY ARE CORRECT THAT IT'S AN EXTENSION IN ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT FUNDING FOR TEACHER LEGISLATION IN HISTORY. WE DON'T WANT THAT IN JEOPARDY. IT PASSED 53% OF THE VOTE LAST TIME, HAVING TO GO BACK TO THE BALLOT, MAYBE BEING LOST. THERE ARE FUNDING ISSUES. THE GOVERNOR SAID HE'S THE EDUCATION GOVERNOR OF OUR TIME. THAT'S LIKE PRAYING FOR PATIENCE. YOU CAN HAVE TRIALS WHEN YOU PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE. 123, 301 AND THIS YEAR'S BUDGET HAS DEDICATED HIMSELF TO BRINGING MONEY TO THE CLASSROOM.

I THINK TEACHERS WOULD SAY THAT SOUNDS GREAT BUT HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS ARE 50TH IN THE COUNTRY AND ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS 49TH IN THE STATE. IT SOUNDS GREAT UNTILL THE NUMBERS ARE ON PAPER.

MAJORITY LEADER JOHN ALLEN: LET’S REMEMBER, ITS OUTPUTS WE ARE AFTER. WE WANT TO HAVE THE BEST OUTPUT SCHOOLS WE CAN HAVE. WE HAVE FUNDING ISSUES. WE ARE BEHIND WHERE WE WERE IN 2009. THESE ARE SAVE OUR SCHOOLS, TEACHERS THIS -- IT'S NOT EDUCATING OUR KIDS. WE ARE 25TH IN OUTCOME. UTAH LOWEST INPUT IS AT EIGHTH. INPUT IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST DERMER OF WHAT IS NECESSARY FOR EDUCATION. WE AS A GROUP BELIEVE THERE IS MORE WE CAN DO AND WE ARE TRYING TO GET IT DONE.

TED SIMONS: I THINK IT'S DIFFICULT TO ARGUE THAT 49TH AND 50TH REGARDLESS OF OUTCOME IS A GOOD THING.

SEN. STEVE YARBROUGH: I AGREE. I DON'T THINK THERE IS A PERSON I KNOW IN THE LEGISLATURE WHO ISN'T COMMITTED AND SEEING THIS AS PRIORITY ONE, BUT AS WE ALL KNOW, IT'S DRIVEN BY AVAILABLE REVENUE BECAUSE WE BUILD ROADS AND KEEP FOLKS IN PRISONS THAT BELONG THERE AND DO ALL THE OTHER THINGS.

TED SIMONS: TEACHERS TELL ME THE TAX CUTS CONTINUING, TAKING MONEY OUT OF REVENUE THAT AFFECTS THE MONEY FOR EDUCATION, THE MONEY FOR TEACHER SALARY. THEY ARE SAYING TAX CUTS ARE NOT NECESSARY. YOU SAY?

SEN. STEVE YARBROUGH: I'M NOT SAYING WE'LL SEE NEW TAX CUTS. WE HAVEN'T IN RECENT YEARS OF ANY SIGNIFICANCE. IT'S BEEN VERY, VERY MINIMAL. TAX CUTS, ALSO, WHO KNOWS HOW GOOD THE RECOVERY WOULD BE BUSINESS WISE BUT FOR TAX CUTS. I REALIZE THAT IS A DEBATE WE CAN CONTINUE TO HAVE, BUT WE ARE GOING TO DO MORE.

TED SIMONS: YOU MENTIONED PROP 123. A JUDGE JUST RULED THAT VIOLATES FEDERAL LAW? YOUR THOUGHTS?

MAJORITY LEADER JOHN ALLEN: IT IS INTERESTING. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CHANGED THE LAW AND CITED THE ELECTION DATE SO IT WOULD BE RETROSPECTIVE TO THAT TIME. IT'S AN INTERESTING DECISION. THE JUDGE ISN'T SAYING IT'S NULL AND VOID FOREVER, BUT NULL AND VOID UNTIL IT'S PASSED AND SIGNED. I THINK WE'LL WIN ON APPEAL. CONGRESS DID THE RIGHT THING ON THIS AND MADE SURE WE HAD THE RIGHT LEGAL STRUCTURE TO DO IT. I THINK IT'S A ADDITION THAT WILL BE OVERTURNED.

TED SIMONS: IT IS INTERESTING, TREASURER DEWITT DISCUSSED RESIGNING. HE WAS AGAINST PROP 123. HE ESSENTIALLY SAID THIS WEEK, I TOLD YOU SO.

(R) JEFFF DWIT: BEFORE I CAME PUBLIC WITH MY POSITION, IT WOULD VIOLENT THE ENABLING ACT. IT'S A SET UP SITUATION. IF SOMEBODY BUILDS THEIR OWN HANDMADE AIRPLANE AND YOU TELL THEM IT'S GOING TO BURN ON TAKE OFF AND IT BURNS ON TAKE OFF, YOU CAN'T CELEBRATE BECAUSE IT'S A BURNING HEAPING MESS.

TED SIMONS: DO YOU THINK 123 IS A BURNING MESS?

SEN. STEVE YARBROUGH: I DO NOT IN ORDER. I THINK IT WILL SURVIVE. I DO NOT BELIEVE THE FUNDING THAT WENT TO EDUCATION SOONER AS A RESULT OF PROP 123, I DON'T BELIEVE THAT'S GOING AWAY.

TED SIMONS: SENATOR MCCAIN AND CONGRESSMAN SINEMA IS AGAINST IT. THERE IS NOTHING TO ADVOCATE CONGRESS SUPERVISING THE TRUST FUNDS. THE JUDGE IS SAYING YOU MAY HAVE TO PAY BACK THIS MONEY. ARE YOU PREPARED FOR SOMETHING LIKE THAT?

MAJORITY LEADER JOHN ALLEN: I THINK IT'S TOO SOON TO WORRY ABOUT END RESULTS WHEN WE THINK WE ARE GOOD FOOTING TO START WITH. WE HAVE PERMISSION TO DO WHAT WE DID RETRO ACTIVE BACK TO THE DATE WE DID IT AND WITHOUT THAT LANGUAGE, I THINK WE HAD THE ABILITY TO MOVE A BIT OF THE ENABLING ACT IN A WAY TO PUT MORE MONEY INTO SCHOOLS BECAUSE THAT'S THE INTENDED TARGET TO START WITH. I DON'T THINK IT VIOLETS EITHER. I THINK WE ARE DOUBLE COVERED HERE.

TED SIMONS: GOVERNOR'S OFFICE SAYS THEY ARE NOT WORRIED AT ALL. HOW ABOUT YOU?

SEN. STEVE YARBROUGH: I WOULD HAVE, I GUESS, WOULD HAVE PREFERRED NOT TO WORRY ABOUT IT. I'M WITH THE MAJORITY LEADER. I BELIEVE IT WILL WORK OUT AND THE DOLLARS WILL END UP RIGHT WHERE WE INTENDED THEM IN SCHOOLS.

BEFORE WE LET YOU GO. THE GOVERNOR SAFETY PLAN, STOP THREAT BETTER PROTECTION ON BACKGROUND CHECKS, THESE SORTS OF THINGS. IT'S A PLAN. IT WAS ROLLED OUT. WHAT NEXT?

SEN. STEVE YARBROUGH: WE ARE WAITING FOR THE ACTUAL LANGUAGE THAT WILL BE IN THE BILL. WE HAVE HAD SMALL GROUPS IN THE SENATE. WE HAVE TAKEN A LOOK AT THE PLAN, BUT WE DON'T HAVE LANGUAGE. I THINK AS SOON AS WE HAVE IT, WE'LL BEGIN WORK ON IT.

TED SIMONS: YOU ARE EXPECTING LANGUAGE SOON? YOU ARE GETTING CLOSE.

STEVE YARBROUGH: I'M EXPECTING LANGUAGE MOMENTARILY. I SAY HOPEFULLY THAT MEANS THIS WEEK.

TED SIMONS: WHAT ABOUT THE HOUSE? ARE THERE RUMBLINGS, INDICATIONS OF WHAT IS COME DOWN THE PIKE?

MAJORITY LEADER JOHN ALLEN: THERE ARE A LOT OF CONVERSTATION. WE ARE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT THE OVERALL VALUE SYSTEM AS A CAUCUS. MUCH OF IT ISN'T IN ACCORD WITH WHAT THE GOVERNOR WANTS. THERE ARE A FEW THINGS IN THERE, BUT WE WANT TO SEE WHAT THE GOVERNOR OFFERS AND HAVE THE ABILITY TO WORK ON IT, AMEND IT, MAKE IT BETTER. WE HAVE NOT HAD A SHOOTING IN OUR STATE. WE DON'T WANT ONE. WE WANT TO BE PROACTIVE. WE WANT TO PROTECT PEOPLE'S SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS. WHEN THERE ARE RED FLAGS AND EASY THINGS TO DO TO MAKE SOFT TARGETS HARDER, I THINK WE SHOULD DO THOSE THINGS.

TED SIMONS: THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE. COMING UP, A DISCUSSION WITH PULITZER-PRIZE-WINNING CIVIL RIGHTS HISTORIAN, GILBERT KING.

Steve Yarbrough: President, Arizona State Senate
John Allen: Majority Leader, Arizona State House of Representatives

Summer of mystery show collage
airs June 16

It’s the Summer of Mystery!

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

Celebrate Juneteenth with Arizona PBS

A photo of Olivia Ford and the cover of her book,
June 26

Join us for PBS Books Readers Club!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: