PHOENIX, Ariz. - Supporters of a new ballot initiative that would create a new funding source for Arizona public schools say they have collected more than enough signatures to ensure the issue will appear on the ballot in November.
Leaders and supporters of the Invest in Education Act initiative say they collected 270,000 signatures. They delivered boxes of petitions to the Secretary of State’s office Thursday. The group has said it needs roughly 151,000 valid signatures to ensure the issue is on the ballot.
At a press conference following the delivery of the petitions, Josh Buckley, Invest in Education Act Chairman, called the drive a continuation of the momentum created before and during the teacher strike in April and May.
“The overwhelming support shows that the people of Arizona understand that we must do more to support our students, our educators, and our communities,” Buckley said.
The proposed income tax on the state’s highest earners will generate roughly $700,000,000 for schools, the group says. They want 60% of the money for teacher and educator pay and the remainder for classrooms.
The tax would apply to 1% of Arizonans.
When asked why not make all state taxpayers give up part of their income to fund public schools, Joe Thomas, Arizona Education Association President, says polling indicated they would receive the most support making only the state’s highest earners pay.
“[We put] three major polls out in the field, online, reaching out directly through cellphones and direct calls and they told us this is what they want,” Thomas said.
If it passes, individuals with taxable income higher than $250,000 a year and married couples filing jointly earning more than $500,000 would pay a higher income tax rate.
“The AZSOS has 20 business days to complete petition processing. Counties have 15 business days for signature verification and then the AZSOS has a final 3 days to determine if the initiative has qualified for the ballot.”