We were proud to stand with Gov. Ducey in supporting his 20% by 2020 teacher salary plan, which has delivered 20% raises for every teacher in Arizona and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for operating and capital costs. Additionally, Gov. Ducey signed our legislation extending Prop 301, the 6/10 of a cent sales tax for Arizona’s schools originally passed by Arizona voters in 2020, until 2041. The extension provided needed stability and restored funding to schools. Even with these funding accomplishments, we must do more!
Going door to door listening to constituents, meeting with business groups like the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Greater Phoenix Leadership and working with education advocacy groups like Expect More Arizona and Stand for Children, one thing is clear; Arizonans want to invest more in our public schools. That’s why this legislative session we are proposing a new, one-cent sales tax, 100% dedicated to education, to be placed on the 2020 ballot: A Penny for Education. This would replace the 6/10 sales tax just extended.
Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 1002, would create a permanent, voter protected and constitutionally enshrined funding stream for Arizona’s public schools, including funding for K-12 classrooms, for trade and workforce development programs at our state community colleges and support for resident students and innovative research at our three great public universities. SCR 1002 is a key component of the P-20 system we all envision.
Arizona’s largest teachers' union is trying to place a short-sighted proposal on the 2020 ballot that would double income taxes on a very small number of Arizonans, mostly small business owners. The union’s proposal, if adopted, would decimate Arizona’s ability to attract and retain the companies and individuals who create the high-quality jobs for our graduates. This funding is not sustainable and in every other state where it has been tried, it has ultimately failed.
There is a better way. The Penny for Education proposal will generate more than $1 billion in permanent, dedicated funding for Arizona’s public schools, community colleges and universities. This proposal is endorsed by the Arizona School Administrators, Arizona Rural School Superintendents, the Education Finance Reform Group, Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, the Arizona Community College Coordinating Council, business leaders such as the retired Chairman and CEO of PetSmart, Phil Francis, and the Chairman & CEO of Sunbelt Holdings, John Graham. Lastly, business groups such as Greater Phoenix Leadership and Southern Arizona Leadership immediately stepped up to support the concept of a voter-approved tax that would deliver education dollars with the flexibility for local communities to decide their own priorities and the necessary accountability and transparency to ensure these dollars are used wisely.
We have worked hard to return funding for our public schools to pre-recession levels. Arizonans want more. Therefore, we must dig a little deeper to contribute another 4/10 of one cent to support our K-12 classrooms, universities, and community colleges.
We cannot afford to play partisan politics with our children, our schools or our economy. Let’s send the Penny for Education proposal to the 2020 ballot for voters to approve! This initiative will provide the opportunity for every Arizona family to thoughtfully and strategically confirm their commitment to increasing Arizona’s investment in our public schools.