Arizona voters likely to see education spending bill on November ballot
- Leaders of the Invest in Education campaign delivered more than 270,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office last week in a move that will likely place the proposal increasing funding for public schools by $690 million before the voters in November, AZ Central reports.
- The initiative comes after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a budget in May in response to a #RedForEd walkout that already includes $400 million in additional funding for Arizona schools — the most significant amount of education spending in recent Arizona history.
- However, even if the proposal passes verification tests and makes it onto the ballot, it still faces stiff opposition from critics — including many in the business community — who fear that the significant tax hikes contained in the proposal would weaken the economy and ultimately harm education funding as a result.
Protests and walkouts in several states across the nation have won some financial concessions for teachers and increased education funding overall in some cases. Oklahoma and North Carolina have also seen increased education spending in the wake of protests. In Arizona, the state legislature has already increased teacher pay and this proposal for more funding may face voters on the November ballot.
If the Invest in Education Act qualifies for the ballot and taxpayers approve it, proponents say that 60% of the money will go for raises to teachers and other employment-related expenses, while the other 40% will go toward increases for support staff members, class-size reduction, dropout prevention programs, and full-day kindergarten. However, critics argue that the act would do lasting harm to the state’s economy and would not really solve the problems in the long run.
There has been a decline in true teacher pay in some areas over the past few years. However, the relationship between increased spending in education and increased quality of education is not a given. And state funding of education is increasingly a complicated issue. Education dollars don't always reach the students who need it most. While strikes may draw attention to school funding needs, closing down classrooms to make the point has made the lessons learned from teacher strikes a little murky. School administrators can do little about the big budget picture. However, they can make sure that the money they do have is being used as efficiently as possible and focus on other working conditions that matter to teachers.