Arizona tops list of biggest education cuts

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Arizona's cuts to education are more severe than any other state, according to a new report.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports spending per-student plunged nearly 21% over the last four years in Arizona. Alabama, Oklahoma, Idaho, and South Carolina are next on the list of states with the highest cuts to education.

"It's inexcusable.  It's one more list Arizona shouldn't be at the top of," said Andrew Morrill, the President of the Arizona Education Association, which represents the state's teachers.

"The best way to grow the economy is to invest in public schools," said Morrill, who says it's up to the legislature to improve funding.

"We literally went to Safeway to collect receipts as part of their rebate program, in order to get basic supplies at my son's elementary school," said Ann-Eve Pedersen.

Pedersen is helping run the campaign to pass Prop 204 on November's ballot.  The measure would renew a one-cent sales tax, which is set to sunset, and force legislators to use most of the money raised on education.

Governor Jan Brewer, who supported the sales tax when it was originally passed as Prop 100, now says she does not support renewing it.

"I think there's a better way of doing it," Brewer told reporters Wednesday, without elaborating on what that 'better way' is.

"I think my record will stand on its own. I've fought long and hard for education," Brewer said.

The governor and state education officials unveiled new school reforms Wednesday, which include new standards for students and training for teachers.