Arizonans Approved a Billion-Dollar Tax Hike on the Rich to Pay for Education
Voters in Arizona on Tuesday made history by turning the state blue for the first time since 1996. But the state’s shift to the left was not limited to presidential politics.
Voters also approved a measure to raise nearly a billion dollars in annual funding for K-12 education by raising taxes on the state’s highest income earners.
Proposition 208, which was first proposed in 2018 and endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), levies a 3.5 percent tax on incomes greater than $250,000, and is expected to generate $940 million per year for investment in Arizona’s struggling education system.
“Let’s address the decades of cuts to education funding in Arizona and invest in our schools, teachers, and kids,” Sanders wrote in a statement.
Only 90,000 people would see their taxes go up, according to the Arizona Daily Star, whose editorial board also endorsed Proposition 208.
Arizona’s Republican Governor, Doug Ducey, fiercely opposed the bill.
“It would make us the equivalent of Bernie Sanders’ Vermont, or New York state or Washington, D.C.,” Ducey said last month of Sanders’ endorsement while flanked by Secretary of Education Betsy Devos.
Thousands of teachers famously went on strike that same year to protest their unhealthy working conditions and the unreasonable demands placed on them.
In September, The Grand Canyon State was ranked the third-worst state in the nation in which to be a teacher and 45 out of 50 for teacher salaries. It also boasts the highest teacher-student ratio in the country, meaning educators have too many students per class.
Supporters of robust public education lauded the passage of Proposition 208.
“Arizona’s 1.2 million K-12 public education students are the big winners tonight. By passing Proposition 208, Arizona voters said yes to our state’s students and their future. As a teacher and the Chairwoman of Yes on 208, I am incredibly grateful to everyone who voted yes on Proposition 208. Thank you for your trust and support,” Amber Gould, Chairwoman of Yes on 208 – Invest in Education, said in a statement.
“Proposition 208 represents much needed change in Arizona that will create educational and economic opportunities for those who need it most. This inseparable connection was highlighted throughout our campaign’s messaging. Strong schools mean a stronger economy. Voters overwhelmingly agreed,” said Rebecca Gau, Executive Director at Stand for Children Arizona.
“Economic studies continue to show the keys to improving Arizona’s business climate and economy are increased funding for Arizona’s K-12 public education system and developing a more skilled workforce. The Invest in Education Initiative was crafted to do just that and I am proud Arizona voters agreed,” said David Lujan, Director of The Arizona Center for Economic Progress.