Guest Editorial: Teachers May Be Pushing Their Luck

By Scottsdale Pinetop

After decades of tax cuts and underfunding of public education, thousands of teachers descended on the state Capitol in an effort to secure more funding and urging lawmakers to act. And to the surprise of many Arizonans, it worked. While the #RedforEd movement may be over, the debate of where the additional education funding will be coming from rages on.

Looking to piggyback on the #RedforED movement’s success, a small coalition of liberal organizations have launched a ballot initiative that seeks to raise an estimated $690 million for education. The “Invest In Education” initiative is seeking to impose an increase in the income tax rate from 4.54 percent to 9 percent for people earning more than $250,000 or couples earning more than $500,000 annually.

The citizens’ initiative has been described has a “punish-the-rich” measure that would create class hostilities. Others have hailed it as the solution to long-term education funding. One things is for certain, joining the ranks as one of the highest income tax states would be detrimental to Arizona’s economy.

To put it into perspective, Arizona’s top marginal personal income tax rate is ranked 37th in the country. Raising the top rate to 9 percent would cause Arizona to become fifth highest in the country. If this initiative passes, Arizona can expect to see entrepreneurs and employers to take their innovation and investments elsewhere.

Supporters of the tax increase claim that the approximate $700 million in expected new revenues will go directly towards K-12 funding. However, the initiative doesn’t include specific language that ensures the revenue will make it into the classroom. The measure also expands the definition of “teacher” to include nurses, counselors, social workers, psychologists and librarians – meaning money intended for teacher pay raises would be cut. As stated in previous editorials, Arizona needs more solutions to proper funding to K-12 education that will help create the best possible environment. But this initiative is not one of them.