Win for Prop 208 and the Voters of Arizona
June 23, 2022
$800 Million in New Ongoing Funding for Public Education is a Win for Prop 208 and the Voters of Arizona
(PHOENIX, AZ) When nearly 1.7 million Arizona voters passed Proposition 208 in November 2020 they sent a clear message that they wanted to substantially increase funding for K-12 public education and they supported raising taxes on the wealthiest Arizonans to do so. While the Supreme Court’s heavy-handed decision striking down Prop 208 went against the will of the voters, the Supreme Court could not erase the strong message that voters had sent: that they were tired of Arizona having the most underfunded schools in the nation and they would no longer tolerate the state legislature’s failure to properly fund public education.
So make no mistake about it, the more than $800 million in new ongoing funding for public education included in the new state budget would not have happened without all of the Arizona voters who supported Prop 208, and all of the teachers and other community volunteers who worked so hard to make it happen. Initial budget proposals did not include anywhere near the amount of new public education investments that made it into the final budget. But lawmakers could no longer ignore the will of the voters. That is why the new budget includes new annual investments in our public schools that are nearly equivalent to the amount of annual funding that would have been raised by Prop 208.
The additional funding includes:
- More than $500 million increase to the funding formula
- $100 million for the new opportunity weight
- $100 million increase for special education
- $50 million for more school safety officers and counselors
“We are pleased to see that Arizona’s public schools will be getting close to the same level of investments that Prop 208 would have provided,” said David Lujan, President and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance, one of the organizations behind Prop 208.
But if we are painting the complete picture, while the new investments for public education are certainly a bright spot in this budget, the budget package also contains millions of dollars in new tax cuts and tax credits that will threaten the sustainability of this new education funding in the future, and will make it virtually impossible to make the additional investments that would be needed to get Arizona closer to the national average in education funding. Even with these new investments, Arizona will still remain in the bottom 10 nationally in per pupil funding. Continuing to drain future state revenues through tax cuts will likely lead to big budget cuts when the next recession arrives. Expanding school vouchers will also divert even more public tax dollars away from public schools to private schools with no accountability.
Arizona still has much work to do to ensure all of Arizona’s public school students have the resources they need to succeed. We need to make sure we are electing state legislators who both support new investments in our public schools and who will put an end to the annual practice of draining future state revenues by doling out tax breaks to big corporations and the rich. That is why it is so important for Arizona voters continue to have their pro-public education voices heard this November.