Voting initiatives hope to fund education in Arizona


SCR 1002 and the Education Investment Law could be in the general ballot this fall

Arizona voters could vote on Concurrent Senate Resolution 1002 in this year’s general election with another initiative that would direct taxpayer dollars to schools and education programs across the state.

The initiatives come after years of state educators calling for better funding of public education.

SCR 1002 hopes to establish an additional 1% sales tax in an effort to direct the money to three different levels of education.

An adopted amendment to the original proposal says that if the resolution is passed, 13.75% of the revenue will go to maintaining tuition fees in the state and 4.25% will go to improving business and workforce development programs. work of community colleges.

The remaining 82% will be used for primary and secondary education.

SCR 1002 was submitted to the Rules of the Senate Committee in February, but it has yet to pass the Senate and House before being added to the general election ballot.

The Arizona Board of Regents spoke in favor of the committee resolution because it would provide more funds for higher education students.

“This bill would provide Arizona students with increased access to college graduation,” Julie Newberg, director of board communications, said in a statement.

The measure competes with the Measuring the vote Investing in education which will go to voters in November.

The Education Investment Act would direct 12% of funds from personal income tax with taxable income greater than $ 250,000 per year to the Vocational Training and Workforce Fund and 3% of the money Arizona Teachers Academy.

The remaining 85% would go towards school staff compensation, mentorship and retention programs, and increased teacher compensation.

Members of the educational community like the Arizona Center for Economic Progress are more supportive of the Invest in Education initiative because of its higher revenue forecast.

SCR 1002 is expected to generate $ 580 million according to the joint budget committee, while the Education Investment Act is expected to generate $ 940 million by Arizona Department of Revenue.

Given that SCR 1002 has not yet reached the Chamber, stakeholders are questioning its possible impact.

“We would probably support him if he was on the ballot, but we don’t take an official position unless he does on the ballot,” said Rebecca Gau, executive director of the bipartisan organization. non-profit. Support for children.

Gau, accompanied by David Lujan, the director of Arizona Center for Economic Progress, and other critics of SCR 1002 say low-income Arizonans will be the most affected by the proposal.

Since low-income people spend more than their high-income counterparts, more of their money would go to tax.

Lujan and Gau called the measure “regressive,” explaining the impact on low-income families and on general sales in Arizona.

However, members of the Senate Education Committee who support the bill agree that the best way to increase funding for education is to tax everyone the same amount.

“It’s the same rate for everyone, which makes the tax fair and equal,” said committee chair Senator Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake).

ABOR supports SCR 1002 because of its clear focus on higher education. Not only will the money for the teachers’ academy be attractive to students, the money will allow the board to continue to focus on college education.

“Higher education is one of the most crucial investments that an individual and our state can make for better wages, a better quality of life and an increased ability of our state to compete,” Newberg said in a statement. .

At the start of the measurement committee hearing on January 28, Brittney Kaufmann spoke on behalf of Arizona Board of Regents and said they were “extremely grateful” for the resolution.

“There is no better return on investment for the state than investing in education,” Kaufmann said at the hearing.

Kaufmann said that with the money, universities would be able to lower tuition fees in the state, which the Arizona Constitution promises, and pursue innovative projects, courses and programs with the Technology and Research Initiative Fund.

In 2018, ASU spent most of the funds allocated to improving health and finding water, environment and energy solutions.

While Stand for Children works primarily to advance the education of children rather than college students, Gau said college students should look to their own Arizona family future and educational opportunities.

Gau said college students have spent so much time in the education system that they don’t realize the issues of overcrowding, lack of pay and how “there are so many schools with visions for their students that ‘they can’t deliver, “Gau said.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] and follow @piperjhansen on Twitter.

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