Let’s Invest in Education in 2020

School Funding | 02/29/2020

Rebecca Gau
Stand for Children Arizona Executive Director

We are proud to help launch a historic initiative that will generate $940 million in new, permanent annual funding for our students.

It was a decision we didn’t come to lightly. Much thought and discussion went into whether or not we would support this initiative. For us, any policy we support begins and ends at the core of who we serve: Arizona’s children and their families.

We conducted fiscal research, education policy research, and voter research. We looked at the critical issues that Arizona’s students continue to face: Over 1,800 classrooms without qualified teachers. Dramatic overcrowding in classrooms that actually have teachers. Virtually stagnant, low reading scores. An abysmally low high school graduation rate.

While we applaud attempts to address these issues, the fact remains that they have not been solved. Doing so requires an intentional, significant investment directed at the source of the problem.

That’s why we are excited about supporting Invest in Ed. Here are three reasons why.

1. It Restores Public Education Funding

The facts are glaring. Our state still spends about $1 billion less on education than it did a decade ago. While it takes more than just money to ensure that quality learning is happening in the classroom, it does take cold hard cash to “keep the lights on.” And while Arizona’s neighboring states have recently passed tax increases to fund education, we still nationally remain:

  • 2nd lowest salaries for teachers
  • 3rd highest teacher turnover rate
  • Highest student-to-teacher ratio
  • 5th lowest spending per student

The Invest in Education Act puts money directly where we need it.

It will fund:

  • Hiring new teachers to fill empty classrooms and alleviate overcrowding
  • Increased teacher pay to retain quality educators in classrooms
  • Improved access to school counselors
  • Mentoring for new teachers to increase retention
  • Career readiness and vocational education programs for high school students
  • Arizona Teachers Academy

No parent wants their child in a classroom with an “emergency” long-term substitute, but it is happening in about every school in Arizona. That’s why this measure is so crucial. Every student should have a qualified teacher, access to school counselors, and to feel safe in their learning environment.

2. It’s Accountable.

For over two decades Stand for Children has been advocating for a plan that ensures our tax dollars actually reach classrooms and help students. If this initiative didn’t have the transparent and accountable safeguards it does, we wouldn’t be supporting it.

It creates new, voter-protected funds that can only be spent on education. By law, these dollars must be spent where they’re needed most: on teachers, counselors, aides, support services, and career and technical education. The Invest in Ed Act requires annual reporting and transparency, and funds cannot be “swept” by politicians.

3. It’s Reasonable.

Invest in Ed will help our economy by preparing our future workforce without burdening small businesses or families.

For example, households earning less than a combined income of $500,000 a year aren’t impacted at all. And if a household’s net taxable income is $501,000, they will pay a surcharge only on that $1,000. Which calculates to about $35 more per year.

It’s also reasonable because anyone impacted by this surcharge received much, much more than this in the recent Federal tax cut. The average tax cut for those impacted by Invest in Ed was around $47,000 per year. A $47,000 per year tax cut is more than the average teacher salary in Arizona. We think it’s fair to ask those who benefited the most to reinvest a small portion into Arizona’s classrooms. In fact, 99% of Arizonans will not pay a single penny under the Invest in Education Act. Even with the proposed surcharge, Arizona’s income taxes on the highest earners will still remain lower than 25 other states.

Invest in Ed invests in our future with a fair and balanced solution to ensure all of Arizona’s children have a great school and a great teacher. We hope you will stand with us. For more information on how to help, please visit stand.org/investined

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