Landslide Result Mirrors 70% ‘No Vote’ in 2010 When AZ Voters Soundly Rejected Legislature’s Last Try at Raiding FTF Funds

PHOENIX – An overwhelming number of Arizona voters say they would once again vote to support First Things First should the early childhood education program be on the ballot in 2016. Voters also say they oppose shifting First Things First funds to K-12 education while the state continues to have a budget surplus, according to a recent statewide survey of likely voters conducted by Moore Information.

“In 2010, the voters of Arizona overwhelmingly said ‘no’ to the Arizona Legislature’s attempt to raid First Things First,” said Nadine Mathis Basha, author of First Things First and a current Board Member. “This survey confirms voters continue to stand with us – and that they’d again vote in a landslide to protect programs that keep children safe and learning. This wave of support speaks volumes about the mission of First Things First and what it’s accomplished on behalf of Arizona’s youngest and most vulnerable children.”

Voter outrage doesn’t stop with the Legislature’s scheme to raid voter-protected funding designated to serve children ages birth to five, the survey found. Asked their opinion of the Legislature’s raid of nearly $100 million from Arizona universities last year while the state sits on a budget surplus, 69% of voters opposed the raids. This included 53% of Republicans, 74% of Independents, and 83% of Democrats.

“Voters of all parties are tired of politicians raiding education funding and shortchanging Arizona’s children,” said Basha. “Whether these raids target the vulnerable kids supported by First Things First, our K-12 schools or Arizona’s universities, voters are sick of gamesmanship and empty promises. It’s time for real solutions, not political sleight of hand that steals from one child to give to another.”

“There’s no need to gut First Things First. This Legislature has 785 million solutions it can use immediately to properly fund education,” said Basha, referring to the budget surplus outlined by state budget staffers.

Other highlights from the survey include:

Only 36% support shifting funds from First Things First to K-12 while there is a budget surplus. That paltry figure pales in comparison to the 60% early support level typically necessary for a ballot measure to pass.
46% of voters give the Legislature a grade of D or F for its work on public schools.
82% of voters agree with the Arizona Supreme Court decision that rejected the Legislature’s attempted raid of First Things First funds in 2009.

The Moore Information survey was conducted September 23-24, 2015 by live interviewers using both cellular and landline telephones among a representative sample of 404 voters in Arizona. The potential sampling is plus or minus 5% at the 95% confidence level. Moore Information has conducted polls in Arizona for Governor Jan Brewer, Yes on 100 and Congressman Paul Gosar, among others.   back...
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