Climate Change and environment
NATURAL RESOURCES (LWVUS)
Resource Management & Protection
- Promote the management of natural resources as interrelated parts of life-supporting ecosystems.
- Promote resource conservation, stewardship, and long-range planning, with the responsibility for managing natural resources shared by all levels of government.
- Preserve the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the ecosystem with maximum protection of public health and the environment.
LAND USE (LWVAZ)
Consensus 1975; Reviewed 1995
The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports:
- Action to achieve a physical environment beneficial to life, with emphasis on achieving an optimum balance between human needs and the carrying capacity of the land and its resources.
- Statewide land use planning which should include economic, social and environmental components, basic services, transportation, new concepts of community design, the best use of resource conservation measures in land use planning, with emphasis on the effects of population growth and distribution.
- Measures to preserve open space and natural habitat, identify and regulate areas of critical concern, including fragile areas, historic areas, riparian habitats, renewable resource lands, and natural hazard lands.
- Statewide authority over areas and activities outside of local government jurisdiction, or which their governmental bodies fail to regulate.
- Protection of private property in accordance with the Fifth Amendment, but retaining the government's right to regulate the use of land through its power to protect the public health, welfare and safety, the decision whether a regulation constitutes a partial taking should be determined by the courts.
- Requirements for evaluation of economic, social and environmental impacts of major land use projects, whether initiated by government agencies or by private interests.
- Policies which assure the quality of the environment for people of all economic levels.
- Increased coordination and communication among land use agencies at all levels of government, and between those agencies and the public.
- Requiring any boards, commissions or agencies having authority or responsibility over land use planning to be comprised of individuals representing a balance of diverse citizen interests and concerns.
- Public input into all stages of planning and decision making.
- Increased technical and financial assistance to localities for growth management, encouragement of local communities to use innovative planning and regulatory techniques, and to incorporate measures to conserve energy, integrate transportation planning, consider availability of water and other resources.
Consensus 1975, 1979; Revised 1995, Amended 2009
The League of Women Voters of Arizona supports the following goals:
Water resource management should ensure:
- The sustainability and long term productivity of water resources of the state and their future availability at reasonable costs. Reasonable cost is defined as costs that fairly and accurately reflect the value of this precious resource.
- The equitable utilization of water resources.
- Conservation of water resources.
- Prevention of harmful contamination of our surface and groundwater supplies from all sources.
- Coordination at all levels of government (federal, state and local) in planning for and managing water resources.
- Availability of detailed information on all groundwater withdrawal and hydraulic characteristics of aquifers.
- Energy consideration to be included as part of any water management plan.
- Public participation at all levels of water resource management planning. Arizona water laws should:
Reflect the hydrologic cycle and treat all water as interrelated.
Recognize and provide for physical differences between various areas of the state.
Define and quantify ground and surface rights.
Consider priority of use and coordination of planning for water and land if water rights are transferred.
Recognize riparian habitats as beneficial use.
Assure that riparian habitats and in stream flows are protected when any new water rights are granted, or when there are water exchanges or changed uses.
Clarify and strengthen in stream flow rights.
Provide for incentives for stream/habitat restoration.
Provide authority to:
Monitor water use;
Limit non-beneficial or wasteful use;
Limit new water uses in areas of long-term shortages;
Decide which users should have priorities in times of shortages.
The administration of the above should be determined at the state level, with emphasis on implementation and enforcement at the local or regional level.
Require conservation of water by large individual users, such as large industries and agricultural entities, and encourage conservation by all other users. Tax incentives should be utilized.
SOCIAL POLICY (LWVUS)
Secure equal rights and equal opportunity all. Promote social and economic justice health and safety of all Americans.
Education, Employment, and Housing. Support equal access to education, employment, and housing. Federal Role in Public Education. Support federal policies that provide an equitable, quality public education for all children pre-K through grade 12.
This position was originally adopted in 1979 and included public school finance, funding sources for schools, citizen participation and other concerns. In 1999 the position on charter schools was added and in 2005 the high stakes testing position was added. In 2017, LWVAZ adopted an updated education position.
Public School Finance
The Arizona State Constitution states that the legislature shall enact such laws as shall provide for the establishment and maintenance of a general and uniform public school system, which system shall include: 1. Kindergarten schools. 2. Common schools. 3. High schools. 4. Normal schools. 5. Industrial schools. 6. Universities…and for the care and education for hearing and vision impaired students. The state constitution declares that the revenue for the maintenance of the state’s educational institutions shall be derived from the investment of the proceeds of the sale and rental of trust lands and from “appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions, and shall make such special appropriations as shall provide for their development and improvement.” (Arizona Const., Article XI, Sec. 10)
As the Arizona Constitution recognizes education’s importance, so too does the League of Women Voters of Arizona (LWVAZ) see the importance of high quality education for this state’s citizens: 1) to lead satisfying lives, 2) to qualify for the increasingly challenging jobs in today’s and tomorrow’s economy, and 3) to function successfully as informed citizens of the United States’ democracy.
Therefore, the LWVAZ supports funding of a public education system that results in the uniform opportunity for all students to master the attitudes, knowledge, and skills necessary to thrive in a competitive and changing world.
More specifically, the LWVAZ supports the following:
Funding for Quality
- The primary goal of state and local school governing bodies is the achievement of the best quality education for the students in their districts / schools.
- The establishment of criteria for a best quality education for all students must be made prior to determining the formula for the distribution of monies
- The criteria must be based always on current research, thought, and best practices regarding teaching and learning, and other factors impacting academic success such as school readiness, attendance, parent engagement, and enrichment programs beyond the normal school day / calendar year.
Collection of Funds
Funds for education in Arizona are collected through district property taxes and equalized through state income and sales taxes from the State’s General Fund.In addition, the League supports:
- Continued use of the state trust land’s income from the Permanent Fund Investments. Funds determined through a public initiative or referendum.
- Funds generated through development impact fees.
- Bond and override funds determined by a majority of district voters.
Adequate Funding Formula
The LWVAZ recognizes the inequities of the local school property tax. Therefore, the League supports a state funding formula which provides for:
- Decreased reliance on the local school district property tax and increased reliance on statewide taxes for support of public school education.
- Taxation by the state legislature to support public schools by a simple majority vote.
- An inflation allowance
- A defined basic amount of money for each student.
- Financing over and above the basic amount to ensure equal opportunity for each student.
- Uniform maintenance of buildings.
- Uniform supplies.
- Nationally competitive salaries that recognize strong leaders, as well as experience and quality teaching.
- New monies that do not supplant present state funding.
Distribution of Funds
The LWVAZ supports a uniform distribution of state funds to include:
- Capital funding.
- Additional allocations which are made based on recognition of differences in needs among district schools and between district and charter schools.
- Funds for special needs of students.
- Funds for the entire duration of mandated programs.
- Allocations for social services for students and their families.
- Allocations for safe, adequate and reliable transportation separate from base maintenance and operation support.
- All schools using public funds, including public charter schools, will be held fiscally accountable and will be held to same standards of transparent operation that ensure fiscal accountability.
- The district and charter school budget format should call for specific information, such as program detail, salary schedules, and capital improvement programs
The LWVAZ opposes tax “credits” and funding schemes that divert and distort the distribution of funds intended to ensure a quality education for all children in Arizona public schools.
Therefore, the LWVAZ opposes vouchers to private schools, tuition tax credits, waivers, or direct payments to parents for school expenses of their children (as in Empowerment Scholarship Accounts). Public funds should be used only for public schools.
Local Participation in Decision Making & Distribution of Funds
The LWVAZ supports the principle that the governmental entity closest to the school district constituency can best make decisions that will enhance the equal educational opportunity for all students. Therefore, the League urges these policies:
- The state distributes funds uniformly to public school districts and charters, and sets minimal general educational guidelines without inhibiting local decision making.
- The state will maintain a policy of local control on spending decisions, including ability to bond for school renovation and for capital improvements, as well as measures to equalize the ability of school districts to finance those portions of their budgets for which they are responsible on the local level.
- Local district and charter school governing bodies determine how funds are allocated in school budgets.
The LWVAZ, always encouraging responsive government and informed citizen participation, believes thatcitizen participation is essential, in the district and charter school budgeting process. Therefore, the League supports the following:
- Advisory committees open to all citizens in the school community that provide citizen input into the district and public charter school budgetary processes.
- Timely citizen input into the district or public charter school budgetary process that allows for informed citizen influence on the allocation of funds in the budget.
Public Education Instruction
The LWVAZ believes that no single assessment should be the deciding factor for graduation from high school. Therefore, the League supports a diploma being awarded to students who satisfactorily complete their course work.
The LWVAZ supports the use of district, state and/or other government-mandated assessments for the following purposes:
- Identifying and alleviating students’ academic difficulties in a timely manner;
- Identifying necessary changes in curriculum, methods, and materials.
The LWVAZ believes it is important for district and/or statewide assessments to be well-crafted, meaningful, and well-matched with the Arizona Standards.
Therefore, the League supports the following:
- Utilizing Arizona K-12 educators to develop and write the questions for district and/or statewide assessments and educators from institutions of higher learning to evaluate these tests in their areas of expertise.
- Validating the tests to be sure they reflect the Arizona Standards and appropriate grade level academic proficiency.
If state and/or government-mandated assessment testing is required for high school graduation in Arizona, the League recognizes that provisions need to be made for those who fail. Therefore, the League supports retesting students who fail required state and/or government-mandated assessment(s) during their high school years.
Curricular areas not specifically tested or required as part of state and/or government-mandated assessments (such as vocational/technical/career education, visual and performing arts, social studies, science, health and physical education) shall be encouraged and shall not be curtailed.
The LWVAZ acknowledges that charter schools are public schools that are privately operated. Therefore, the League supports the followingfor charter schools:
- Provide charter schools more initial direction as they are started and organized, and continued oversight to comply with legal requirements.
- Hold charter schools to the same high standards as all Arizona public district schools.
- Charter schools that close must provide proper and timely notification to students’ parents/guardians, as well as plan for an orderly transfer of students to an academically appropriate alternative. Further, charter school operators must return property purchased with state funds and return any unspent state funds that have been appropriated from the Arizona General Fund.
With respect to Charter Schools, the LWVAZ also has the following concerns:
- Funding for charter schools may negatively impact funds available for public district schools.
- Charter schools may not be utilizing standardized sequential curriculum.
Additional Education Polices & Practices:
The LWVAZ supportsthe following policies and practices that relate to public district and charter schools:
- All public schools should be permitted and encouraged to innovate. They must be allowed flexibility on class size, length of school day, teaching techniques, and special subject focus (such as science, the arts, technology).
- All public district and charter school teachers must be certified by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) as “well-qualified”.
- Annual and equitable academic evaluation of charter and district schools should occur.
- The ADE should be sufficiently staffed to ensure student achievement is properly monitored in both public district and charter schools.
- The school curriculum for both public district and charter schools must comply with standards set by the Arizona State Board of Education.
- School ranking must not be based solely on test scores.
- Public information about public district and charters schools must be accessible to all.
- An efficient system of tracking students as they move between schools/participate in open enrollment or other school choice options must be developed and adopted.
- School districts should be reorganized only if doing so will enhance the education of all students in the reorganized districts.