Thursday, May 07, 2009

Hate to point out the obvious...really I do...really

State Rep. Andy Biggs (R-LD22) has, according to his legislative bio, degrees from BYU, U of A, and ASU.

I laud him for aquiring such an education (BA Asian Studies, JD [law degree], Master's in Political Science), but I have one suggestion for him -

Go back and take some kind of "comprehending statistics" class.

He likes to throw them around to support his positions even when a closer look at the numbers he cites actually work against his arguments.

During Tuesday's meeting of House Approps (yup, I'm still on that) there was a bit of back and forth between Democratic Rep. Matt Heinz and Biggs comparing the budget situations of Arizona and the state of Washington.

Biggs opened the ball by saying that the AZ lege's cuts to education funding aren't much compared to Washington, which is cutting even deeper than AZ.

Heinz later pointed out that the comparison with WA was a good one - both states are considered low tax burden states (WA = 35; AZ = 41 in 2008 according to the Tax Foundation) in the western U.S. and are similarly-sized, but that while WA's education cuts are even deeper than AZ's, they could cut deeper because they started at a much higher number.

Biggs responded by saying that Washington could spend more because their gross state product was 20% higher than AZ's (actually, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, it's 26% higher as of 2007.)

Ummm...given that the state's really *are* roughly the same size - AZ has 6.5 million people, WA has 6.55 million), and AZ has a lower tax burden (see above), according to the Reps' anti-tax ideology, shouldn't AZ have the bigger GSP?

While Biggs and his Republican colleagues are constantly pimping tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations as the key to economic growth in AZ, they might want to consider the example of Washington before they decimate AZ's educational infrastructure (K - grad school) in order to give their friends hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts.

Data from the National Science Foundation -

Percentage of bachelor's degree holders in the workforce, 2004 -

AZ - 37.3%
WA - 39.7%

Percentage of Science and Engineering degree holders in the workforce, 2003 -

AZ - 0.28%
WA - 0.51%

Percentage of Life and Physical Scientists in the workforce, 2003 -

AZ - 0.22%
WA - 0.58%

Expenditures per pupil for elementary and secondary public schools, 2005 -

AZ - $6,184
WA - $7,717

Percentage of eighth grade students achieving math proficiency, 2005 -

AZ - 26%
WA - 36%

I could go on all night, but the pattern here is clear - tax burden is less of an indicator of a robust economy than is educational infrastructure and achievement.

Of course, students don't dole out bribes and jobs for family members campaign contributions.

Note: there are more current figures for per pupil spending and achievment, but those numbers show the same relative difference between the two states, so I'm sticking with the NSF numbers for consistency's sake.

1 comment:

Jen said...

DAMN! I wish you had posted this prior to tonight's Town Hall with Antenori. He tried selling a rather stuffed room that AZ is one of the most highly taxed states in the union. Needless to say, there were a few people in the crowd who begged to differ.