GOP working to increase school sales tax, boost education spending

PHOENIX (FOX 10) - The head of the Arizona Republican party is working to increase the sales tax to boost education spending. The proposal would go on the 2020 ballot. If voters approve it, school tax would increase from $700 million a year to $1.5 billion.

Arizona's GOP chair Kelli Ward is pushing for an effort that might be dividing her party. Ward is asking lawmakers to pass a bill that would ask voters to raise the school sales tax from six-tenths of a cent to a full penny for additional school funding. The ballot question would be decided during the 2020 election.

But Republican Representative Kelly Townsend says she can't support what adds up to a tax increase.

"We need to look at our education funding and make sure it gets to the classroom and teachers," said Rep. Townsend. "But to go to another tax increase, at least in my district - I don't think the support is there. I need to represent my district and I don't think the support is there."

And on this issue, she's on the same side as Democrats - but for different reasons. House minority leader Charlene Fernandez says the 300 million additional dollars isn't enough.

"We've talked about this, we did Prop 123 a few years ago to try and get more money to our schools," Rep. Fernandez said. "We just keep putting on a bandaid, Pop 123, now we're going to raise it to a penny when we couldn't talk about it four or five years ago. Today we need to make some hard decisions [and] we need to have the political will to do things differently."