"Arizona got better today."
Those were the words Gov. Doug Ducey said at a press conference Thursday night where he declared victory on the expected passage of Prop 123.
A measure that would boost education funding by tapping the state's land trust is surging closer to a victory with new vote tallies.
The Republican governor said Thursday evening that "the result is clear" and called the results a huge victory for public education in Arizona.
The addition of more than 92,000 votes brought the lead from about 7,600 votes on Wednesday to more than 16,700 out of more than 1 million counted. Several counties still have ballots to count, but the chances of a major turnaround appear highly unlikely.
The measure taps the state land trust to fund more than half of $3.5 billion in new school spending over 10 years.
Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell said on Friday a total of 66,623 ballots were tabulated and added to the unofficial results, however there are still more than 1,270 provisional ballots as well as 15,400 early ballots left to be counted.
Official results are expected around noon on Friday.
Additional to Ducey releasing a statement declaring the passage of Prop 123 a win, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas released a statement which read in part:
“I am pleased that Proposition 123’s passage will mean more money for Arizona schools. While it will provide less money than I had initially requested as part of my AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan last September, I hope this vote serves as a first step as we work together to improve education in our state. Although nothing in the proposition’s language requires them to do so, I also hope our administrators and governing boards will do everything they can to ensure that this money gets to our classroom teachers either in the form of salary increases or classroom size reduction.”
"That means I probably get to quit one of my three jobs," said Paul Strauss, an eighth-grade science teacher at Deer Valley, upon learning that Prop 123 was expected to pass. "I get to work more with my students."
Strauss has been a supporter of Prop 123, even working with the governor's office to urge Arizonans to vote "yes" on the measure, which was part of Tuesday's special election.
“It's that cliché when people don't get into education for the money,” said Strauss. “But that doesn't really help me pay my bills every month.”
Strauss says he expects about a 12 percent raise. And he is excited to focus more on his teaching and less on money stresses.
“I spend the entire year getting my students excited for learning and the process of thinking for themselves,” said Strauss.