A maxim for understanding political behavior is: Don't listen to what politicians say, look at what they do.
Almost every Republican state legislator talks a great game in how they highly value and prioritize public and higher education. But their actions have clearly been in the opposite direction.
In 2006 they acted to cut the state income tax from 7 percent to 5 percent. That is a 28 percent cut in a major revenue source for education. As they "bled the education beast," they acted to establish vouchers for private schools. When the public overrode the Legislature with a referendum to repeal the voucher system, the Legislature acted to punish the people by passing a law to make future referendums virtually impossible.