Formula change intended to help support schools
This is one in a series of editorials about the propositions on the November ballot.
Proposition 118 is another measure on the ballot in November that may be hard for voters to understand.
Placed on the ballot by the State Legislature, it essentially deals with an accounting formula.
It involves state trust lands which were given to the state when it became a state. The millions of acres were put aside primarily to fund public school programs. When the land is sold or leased, the money is put into an endowment fund which is then invested. Proceeds from those investments go largely to the schools based on a complex formula in the Arizona Constitution.
Supporters of Prop 118 — and there have been no outspoken opponents — say that hasn't been working properly and the public schools are being shortchanged as a result.
Currently, the fund is valued at $3 billion, making it one of the largest endowments in the nation, yet schools have had smaller, and sometimes no returns from it in recent years due to the poor return on investments available currently. Many Arizonans are aware of this problem in their personal investments.
We won't go into the details of how the formula works, but the goal of Prop 118 is to amend the state's constitution to try to ensure a more consistent disbursement of funds each year to public schools. It would provide money the schools need without increasing taxes.
The sponsors of the measure limited this change to 10 years so it could be re-evaluated in a decade. If it is found to be successful, then it could be renewed again or perhaps changed to work in a better way.
Political leaders, education leaders and business leaders all support the proposal, primarily because it avoids more taxes while providing more consistent funding that will allow schools to better plan their programs.
It sounds like a win-win situation to us and we recommend a “yes” vote.