Syms: I continue to fight for equitable education funding statewide

Since serving as your state Representative since 2016, I have been a consistent voice in favor of more public education funding.

Rep. Maria Syms

Specifically, in my meetings with leadership and the Governor, I have repeatedly advocated the need for increased teacher pay in order to attract and retain quality teachers for our children. I am proud that in my short time as your Representative, my efforts and those of our community have paid off with substantial strides in teacher and education funding.

This session saw a record breaking investment of $1.5 billion to public education over the next three years, including 20 percent teacher raises — $982.4 million — in the base level that is permanent, ongoing and adjusted for inflation.

Also included is a $503.4 million investment in District Additional Assistance that districts have the discretion to use as they see fit for priorities such as support staff, textbooks, technology and school buses.

The budget also includes millions for the School Facilities Board. In addition, I was a proud cosponsor of the 20-year extension of Prop 301, which maintains $650 million in annual education funding.

There is always more to be done and I have already started the conversations with my colleagues and community members about funding reforms to make the system more fair, secure and transparent. We also need to focus on performance and making sure we create an environment where results and achievement are commensurate with our investment.

I appreciate the many parents, teachers and students who visited with me both at the Capitol and in our Legislative District to provide feedback on school funding and discuss the work we still have to do to increase the quality of education for all Arizona children.

As a public school mom myself, I share this priority and understand how important our public education system is to the economic prosperity and quality of life of our state.

In addition to the historic investment in education, we also passed the groundbreaking Opioid Epidemic Act.

It improves access to treatment, expands access to the overdose reversal drug for law enforcement, holds drug manufacturers accountable for fraud, protects Good Samaritans who report overdoses, and limits first-fill of an opioid to five days while exempting prescriptions for chronic pain sufferers. This comprehensive and bipartisan package is a big first step in combating the epidemic and saving lives.

I am also the proud, primary sponsor of several other wins for Arizona this session.

In addition to my legislation last year helping rape victims, veterans and small business, I am proud of my bipartisan legislative victories this session:

  • HB 2107 — Prescription Drug Pricing Patient Protection Act. Lowering the costs of prescription drugs for hardworking Arizonans by allowing pharmacists to inform patients of lower priced payment options and holding the middle men accountable.
  • HB 2053 — Sextortion Law. Making it a crime for sexual predators to extort our children for online sexual photographs, videos or acts.
  • HB 2522 — Pam’s Law. Closing a loophole that allowed a serial DUI offender driving on a suspended license to get off with a slap on the wrist after killing a young mother and seriously injuring her two young children.
  • SB1273 — Small Business Regulatory Reform. A regulatory reform bill that helps small businesses by permitting motions for summary judgment and encouraging settlement conferences in administrative appeals on unemployment insurance claims.
  • HB2020 — Sexual Harassment/Predator Nondisclosure Agreements. Closes the sexual predator loophole of nondisclosure agreements so victims can come forward and stop the Weinstein’s and Nassar’s of the world form preying on others. Prevents elected officials from using nondisclosure agreements to hide sexual misconduct.

With a stronger economy, Arizona is on the rise and we are focusing on important issues that have a direct impact on your quality of life. There is a reason people are moving here in droves and Maricopa County is the fastest growing county in the country.

We are leading and will continue to do so.

I am proud to work for you to encourage Arizona’s continuing prosperity. I will continue to fight for a stronger economy, better education and secure communities for all Arizona families.

As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

Editor’s note: Rep. Syms is a resident of the Town of Paradise Valley

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