Guest Editorial: A Brighter Future for AZ School Funding
By Scottsdale Pinetop
The future of the school funding has been a point of concern among voters and state leaders as Arizona heads into the midterm elections. With the rise in teacher protests and education reform, Arizona leaders have taken notice and decided to come together in order to create a bipartisan solution that attempts to resolve some of these funding concerns.
In November 2000, voters decided to pass Proposition 301, which raised the state sales tax from 5.0% to 5.6%. The increased annual revenues, roughly $640 million, were dedicated to public education needs. The sales tax was set to expire in 2021, leaving many school districts in the dark about the future of school budgets and teacher salaries.
But this week the Arizona House and Senate had a different idea in mind.
On Thursday, the Arizona Senate voted to extend the sales tax until 2041, ensuring hundreds of millions in public school assistance continued. In addition, $64 million of the revenues would be redirected to teacher pay starting in June 2021 – helping address the current teacher crisis.
The announcement to expand Prop. 301 came the same day that nine Glendale school districts announced they would be closed due to many of their teachers leaving school in order to attend protests at the Arizona Capitol.
Wisely, Governor Ducey has opted to sign the legislation.
It can’t be expressed enough – Arizona needs more solutions like this to provide the proper funding to K-12 education that will help create the best possible environment and results for our students, teachers, and schools. For both Republicans and Democrats, this was the first step in showing their genuine commitment to improving Arizona’s education system. While extending Proposition 301 does not resolve all of the education funding concerns, it at least starts a bipartisan dialogue towards creating greater education reform and support.