As the educator walkout continues this week, there are currently five published plans that have been offered to solve the funding crisis our education community faces in this state. Each plan has positive features to one or more groups. All of them have drawbacks to one or more groups. Hopefully, mature public servants on both sides will get together and try to fashion a plan based on aspects of part or all of these proposals that will enable the children and educators to return to school.
Plan One: Invest in Education Act Ballot Initiative
What is the scope of the plan? To place an initiative on the November ballot to raise the state income tax on high earners to raise monies to fully fund schools. People earning from $250,000 to $499,000 would pay an additional 3.46 % in state taxes or $17,265.40 maximum. People earning $500,000 or higher would pay an additional 4.46 percent or $22,300 minimum.
What is the name of the person/groups that support this plan? Superintendent Candidates Kathy Hoffman and David Schapira, Gubernatorial Candidate David Garcia, Arizona Center for Economic Progress.
What is the financial method utilized to solve the education funding crisis in Arizona? Increasing the state income tax for high earners.
What is at least one positive aspect to this plan? It is a steady and consistent revenue stream that would not be susceptible to an economic downtown like a sales tax.
What is at least one negative aspect to this plan? As designed, it only raises close to $700,000,000 of the $1,000,000,000 needed to fully fund schools. Also, as columnist Laurie Roberts points out, it does not ask any of the other income groups to contribute. This initiative puts the added burden solely on high-income earners. This could potentially galvanize the corporate right and create a highly charged partisan fight, waking up the conservative base just as the Blue Wave hits in the November elections.
Plan Two: Governor Ducey’s Plan
What is the scope of the plan? To give teachers a 20 percent raise in stages by 2020.
What is the name of the person/groups that support this plan? Governor Ducey and his allies in the legislature.
What is the financial method utilized to solve the education funding crisis in Arizona? Revenues based on economic performance and possible reallocation from other sensitive budget areas for the needy. This may also include the shifting of property taxes to local communities where they are forced to pay more.
What is at least one positive aspect to this plan? Most of the teachers would get a raise.
What is at least one negative aspect to this plan? First, it does not fully fund education or even the teacher raises. How are the teacher raises determined in the local districts? Where are the raises for support staff? Where are the monies for capital improvements and investments? They are not there.
Second, the funding apparatus, even in its revised form is both unclear and unstable. Updated proposals relayed that the Governor would divert funds from other areas of need like prescription drugs to fund the raises, which would be pitting one group of needy recipients against another. Furthermore, the Governor’s proposals depend on a consistently strong state economy. There are no provisions, other than raiding other budget areas, like prescription drugs, if there is a downturn.