Gov. Doug Ducey delivered a scathing rebuke of Proposition 208, the Invest in Education Act, while visiting a school on Thursday with U.S Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The proposal on November’s ballot would add a 3.5% surcharge on income tax for individuals with taxable income of $250,000 or more or couples making $500,000 or more. The revenue would go largely to raising school staff salaries.
“It would make us the equivalent of Bernie Sanders’ Vermont, or New York state or Washington, D.C.,” he said in response to a question about U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of the measure.
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Sanders, I-Vt., endorsed Proposition 208 in a news release on Thursday morning.
“Let’s address the decades of cuts to education funding in Arizona and invest in our schools, teachers, and kids,” he wrote in a statement.
A poll released Thursday showed that the measure is in the lead among registered voters.
These are not Ducey’s first public remarks against Proposition 208. He has long said he opposes any new tax increases.
Ducey on Thursday contended the measure will hurt the state’s economy. Conservative organizations, including the Goldwater Institute, have made similar claims, arguing that small businesses will bear the brunt of the surcharge.
“It would be the equivalent of hanging a sign over our state that said, ‘Look elsewhere,'” Ducey said. “All the pipeline of people and opportunities that are coming to Arizona would be hurt.”
Invest in Ed proponents refute that claim. The measure would affect a small fraction of taxpayers. The estimated average tax increase for those making $250,000 to $500,000 is $120, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
DeVos toured Phoenix International Academy, a charter school in south Phoenix, on Thursday and then hosted a roundtable to highlight innovative education models in the state.
Prenda Microschools, an Arizona company that gathers small groups of students for learning, was among the models highlighted.
Where would Invest in Ed funding go?
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee, a third-party state entity that analyzes the financial impact of ballot propositions, estimates that Proposition 208 would raise $827 million for education, about $100 million less than Invest in Ed’s initial estimate.
The measure would send the money to the following areas:
- 50% of the money would go to hiring and raising the salaries of teachers and other certified employees, such as counselors and nurses.
- 25% would go to hiring and increasing the salaries of student support staff, including classroom aides and bus drivers.
- 12% would go to career and technical education programs.
- 10% would go to programs dedicated to retaining and mentoring teachers.
- 3% would go to scholarships for the Arizona Teachers Academy, which waives college tuition for teachers-in-training who commit to work in Arizona schools after graduation.
Reach the reporter at Lily.Altavena@ArizonaRepublic.com or follow her on Twitter @LilyAlta.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Ducey blasts Proposition 208 during visit with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos