Arizona Voters Approve Tax On Wealthy To Fund Public Schools

By Dave Jamieson for

Arizonans voted to boost taxes on high earners in order to steer more money to public schools, marking a major win for the Red for Ed movement that began with a wave of teacher strikes in several states two years ago.

Proposition 208, dubbed Invest in Ed, will go into effect next year to fund salaries and training programs for teachers and support staff at public schools and public charters.

The Associated Press called the race late Thursday, with “yes” votes leading “no” 52% to 48%.

The additional 3.5% tax on income will apply to earnings above $250,000 for single filers and $500,000 for joint filers. It would be added to Arizona’s current top tax rate of 4.54%.

Backers of the measure estimate it will put an additional $940 million annually into the state’s public K-12 school system.

Arizona teachers were part of the historic series of strikes that hit public schools around the country, starting in early 2018. The educators were protesting years of disinvestment in public schools that led to staff shortages and underfunded classrooms. Even though the strikes temporarily shut down schools, the public by and large supported teachers’ efforts to boost funding for the education system.

The results of Tuesday’s vote show Arizonans still like the idea of pumping more money into schools even if it means higher taxes for some residents. Polling ahead of the vote showed broad public support for the proposal crossing party lines, with two-thirds of respondents saying they approved of the tax. But the result ended up much closer.