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3:25 AM Wed, Sept. 26th

#RedForEd success requires finding long-term education funding stream

Humboldt Unified School District teachers gather along Highway 69 in Prescott Valley as teachers across Arizona stage a walk out, forcing school closures, seeking more pay and restored funding for education Thursday, April 26, 2018. (Les Stukenberg/Courier, file)

Humboldt Unified School District teachers gather along Highway 69 in Prescott Valley as teachers across Arizona stage a walk out, forcing school closures, seeking more pay and restored funding for education Thursday, April 26, 2018. (Les Stukenberg/Courier, file)

Out of the #RedForEd grassroots coalition has come a resolve to generate more than platitudes for teachers.

The movers and shakers behind the advocacy effort want guarantees of a long-term funding stream into public education.

On Thursday, the Invest in Ed initiative, an outgrowth of the #RedForEd movement, won a legal challenge to appear on the ballot in November. The controversial proposal would hike income taxes for individuals earning more than $250,000, or couples earning double that amount, from 4.54 percent to 8 percent.

The Arizona Education Association favors the initiative as a means to infuse $690 million into the state’s education coffers.

Association President Joe Thomas said the tax hike will assure all this state’s children get the academic and enrichment programs they need to be successful after graduation, be it in college, the military or in the workforce. He sees this proposed bill as an appropriate building block for future generations.

“I think people are talking about schools in a way they haven’t before,” Thomas said.

Republican State Sen. Karen Fann agrees it is a “must” for this state to find “permanent, sustainable” funding for education.

She does not think the proposed law is the way to go – she fears losing small businesses and financially successful individuals and retirees to surrounding states with lower tax rates.

“#RedForEd is a good intention, but this is a bad bill,” said Fann.

She is running for re-election against Democrat Jo Craycraft who could not be reached for comment on Thursday. “We have to find a better solution to fund education.”

Area education leaders want to find a steady funding stream, but admit the politics are tricky.

Invest in Ed is one method to fulfill pledges of more dollars for education, but whether it will be able to win favor of the general electorate remains to be seen, said Yavapai County Schools Superintendent Tim Carter, a four-decade educator and astute student of Arizona education politics.

Carter is a former state Board of Education president.

“Are there better long-term solutions. I guess we can debate that,” Carter said. “Sooner or later, though, Arizona is going to have to resolve that issue – where are the funds going to come from.”

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