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State budget woes could cripple education funding, supporters say

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Education budget

State budget woes could cripple education funding, supporters say

Brewer's cuts also could jeopardize stimulus funds

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Gov. Jan Brewer's efforts to offset a budget shortfall could hurt education in several ways, education advocates say.

Among other cuts being considered, all-day kindergarten could lose state funding, which Brewer has said would save $218 million.

Education supporters also fear that cutting education spending will risk the state's right to keep federal-stimulus money it received as part of last year's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according the Arizona Republic.

"Parents and voters need to really think about what this means and what their priorities are and what trade-offs they want to make," said Dana Wolfe Naimark, CEO of the Children's Action Alliance. "Education has already been hit, but it will be hit now like nothing we've seen."

Naimark is among those who think a temporary sales-tax increase of 1 percentage point, from 5.6 percent to 6.6 percent, combined with other budget cuts is not enough to fill the estimated $1.4 billion shortfall for the current fiscal year and the more than $3 billion projected for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1.

The Arizona Daily Star agrees. In an editorial published yesterday, they said Brewer's cuts would be tough on counties and schools.

Brewer said she would reduce education funding to 2006 spending levels. That will mean the end of gifted programs, all-day kindergarten unless parents pay for it, GED programs and literacy programs.

But an editorial in the East Valley Tribune defends Brewer's proposed budget. Sort of:

Before getting too angry, voters should remember they deserve a government that they can afford, not a debt-crippled behemoth that can be revived only with a massive infusion of permanent new taxes.

Perhaps then it's no coincidence that Brewer has applied for a piece of the $4.3 billion in federal stimulus grants pegged for education, according to CNBC.

Arizona faces a $1.4 billion shortfall in the current $8.3 billion budget and a $3.2 billion gap for the fiscal year starting July 1.

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