Jesus Ayala needs his GED, and Arizona needs him.
That was the message on his poster Thursday at a rally for state support of GED programs.
The state spends $3.4 million on adult education, and that money is part of the Gov. Jan Brewer's proposed budget cuts.
State schools chief Tom Horne said through a spokesperson that those funds are too critical to be in peril because they come with an $11 million federal match.
"It's going to cut our dreams," Ayala said, "dreams to get a GED, get a better job, a career."
Ayala, 67, was laid off from his job as an industrial mechanic more than a year ago. He has been looking for work, but many employers require a GED. Now he's taking classes to prepare for a test.
About 300 people attended the rally at El Rio Learning Center, 1390 W. Speedway, and wrote postcards to legislators.
Here are some fast facts about the demand for adult education:
• About 16 percent of Arizona adults 25 and older don't have a high school diploma or GED, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
• About 18 percent of all high school diplomas issued in Arizona last year were GEDs, according to the Arizona Association for Lifelong Learning.
• Arizona's high school drop-out rate is 3.6 percent, according to the Arizona Department of Education.
Contact reporter Becky Pallack at firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-8012.