After the legislature approved hundreds of millions of dollars for teachers and school districts in Arizona, RedForEd leaders, including Tucson music teacher Derek Harris, say the new funding is good, but they are not satisfied.
“I think it's a help. I think everyone appreciates a pay raise,” Harris said.
RedforEd members are now working with the Tucson Education Association and other affiliated groups to collect voter signatures to get the INVESTinED initiative on the general election ballot in November.
Tucson Education Association President Jason Freed says teachers have momentum following the state-wide walkouts.
“We don't get to raise our hands in victory just yet. That victory comes through the general election in November and making sure we get signatures to see this on the ballot,” Freed said.
Supporters need to collect 151,000 valid signatures by July 5th to ensure the initiative makes it onto the ballot. They are planning a state-wide blitz this weekend to collect as many as they can.
If voters approve the initiative, it would tax Arizonans earning high incomes and set aside that money for teachers and schools. Individuals earning more than $250,000 per year and households earning more than $500,000 would pay an additional income tax of 3.46%. Individuals and couples making more than one million dollars per year would pay an extra 4.46%.
The supporters of INVESTinED say the new taxes would raise $690 million dollars for education: 60% for teacher and staff salaries and 40% for schools. This week, INVESTinED announced on Twitter a poll it commissioned indicates roughly two thirds of Arizonans support their work.
Harris says the money would entice Arizona's best teachers to stay in the state and help them help students make the most of their education.
“Education is the great equalizer, and we need to equalize that in Arizona,” he said.