Arizona voters approve Prop. 208, education tax on state’s highest earners

Arizona voters have approved Proposition 208, a measure that would raise money for educator salaries by taxing the state’s highest earners.

A look at Prop. 208, which would raise taxes on wealthy to fund education

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The measure, also known as the Invest in Education Act, would raise revenue primarily for educator salaries by adding a 3.5% tax surcharge on taxable income over $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for couples. A small fraction of taxpayers would be affected. 



a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Joe Thomas, President of the Arizona Education Association, speaks during a #RedForEd rally at the Arizona state Capitol in Phoenix on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. Invest In Ed is throwing a rally for the kickoff of collecting signatures for its ballot initiative. Over 1800 signs were put up at the rally representing the over 1800 classrooms in Arizona without a certified teacher.


© David Wallace/The Republic
Joe Thomas, President of the Arizona Education Association, speaks during a #RedForEd rally at the Arizona state Capitol in Phoenix on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. Invest In Ed is throwing a rally for the kickoff of collecting signatures for its ballot initiative. Over 1800 signs were put up at the rally representing the over 1800 classrooms in Arizona without a certified teacher.

The Associated Press declared the measure a winner shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday. 

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Proposition 208’s leaders said at a news conference on Tuesday night they believed the measure would earn voters’ approval.

“Voters agree that strong schools mean a strong economy,” said Rebecca Gau, executive director of Stand for Children, the organization supporting Proposition 208. 

Proposition 208 has led in recent polls, garnering support, particularly among Democrats, despite the fierce campaign being waged against the measure.

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The measure was born out of the #RedForEd movement in 2018, when educators protesting low salaries and classroom funding repeatedly cut since the Great Recession pledged to “Remember in November.” 

It’s garnered more support among Democrats and independents, with less support from Republicans. Gov. Doug Ducey opposes the tax increase, while state Schools Superintendent Kathy Hoffman has voiced her support.

Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, took a shot at the state’s governor and lawmakers. 

“Voters will have sealed the deal on something that no legislator has had the courage to do, no governor has had the courage to do,” he said. 

Where would Invest in Ed funding go? 

Educators will likely need to wait awhile to see a difference in their paychecks. David Lujan, one of the authors of the measure, said the money likely would start to flow to salaries in the spring of 2022. 

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 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 [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @LilyAlta.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona voters approve Prop. 208, education tax on state’s highest earners

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