Majority vote 'Yes' on Proposition 208 in 2020 election, per Associated Press

Classroom generic
Posted at 8:22 PM, Nov 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 00:44:55-05

Education in Arizona, projected to get a nearly $1 billion boost with the passage of Proposition 208, also known as the "Invest in Education Initiative." 52% of voters said "Yes," according to the Associated Press.

Momentum for the initiative started back in 2018 when tens of thousands of teachers marched on the state capitol during the "Red for Ed" movement. Supporters tried to get a similar version on the ballot back then, but a Supreme Court judge ruled the language was misleading.

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The proposition enacts a 3.5% income tax surcharge on individuals making more than $250,000 a year, or joint filers making more than $500,000. It takes their tax rate from 4.5% to 8% on any income above those dollar amounts.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee, or JLBC, estimates the surcharge would impact about 100,000 people in Arizona. However, other estimates drop that number as low as 35,000 people when taking taxable income into account, and distinguishing single from married filers.

One of the initiatives' biggest supporters, the Arizona Education Association, claims it will generate $940 million. An analysis by the JLBC estimates that number is closer to $827 million.

A small amount of that generated revenue would initially go toward administrative costs of the Treasurer, Auditor General, AZ Department of Education (ADE), Department of Revenue (DOR), and State Board of Education, associated with making the tax changes.

The remaining funds would be distributed as follows:

50%- Hiring and increasing base compensation for teachers and classroom support personnel (social workers, librarians, nurses, counselors)
25%- Hiring and increasing base compensation for student support services personnel (academic interventionists, transportation, media specialists, health assistants)
10%- Mentoring and retention programming for new classroom teachers
12%- CTE Workforce Fund
3%- AZ Teachers Academy

The main opposition to Prop 208, Arizonans for Great Schools and a Strong Economy, say the tax hike is gambling with Arizona's economy. That it will lead to job loss, slow our state's economic growth and they also criticized the initiative's language, citing a lack of accountability, and focused on the fact that an out-of-state advocacy group and teacher unions provided a bulk of the funding support.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman has called Prop 208 "a lifeline" for schools, as they deal with a lack of funding and an ongoing teacher shortage.