"INVESTinED" education initiative supporters make final push for signatures
PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Two months after the RedforED teacher walkout ended in Arizona, educators are now asking voters to approve a ballot initiative in November called "INVESTinED".
Arizona business leaders say they will use every possible avenue to defeat the initiative. The plan is to tax the rich for classrooms, but how much will be brought in? The numbers are all over the place, and it has critics sounding alarm bells about basic economics.
"It's a monumental challenge," said David Lujan, Director of Arizona Center for Economic Progress. "We needed more than 151,000 valid signatures, and we did that in a little more than two months."
"INVESTinED" organizers are celebrating on the 4th of July what they feel will be their own independence movement.
"This is Arizona voters wanting to take action and give our schools the resources that they need," said Lujan.
Critics, however, warn that wild conversation from 600, 700 or 800 million dollars getting pumped into schools will fall well short.
"This is a very radical idea," said Glenn Hamer with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "Doubling the state income tax for small businesses would put us from a competitive position nationally to the fifth highest in the country,"
Arizona business leaders say taxing the rich to give to schools won't stick.
"This is going to be a boon for accounting, because people are going to figure out," said Hamer. "Wealthy people are going to figure out how to avoid taxes, or small business are going to say we may locate somewhere else."
The initiative addresses the broader issue of classroom funding, but while critics have their doubts over whether school boards can be responsible with that money, Lujan says people should trust the process.
"That's why we elect school boards," said Lujan. "It will be done in a public transparent process. Teachers will have input. Support staff will have input. The money will get into the classrooms where it needs to be."
There will be a press conference Thursday morning at the capitol and it will be a victory lap for organizers. There will certainly be a legal challenge, and if so, it will have to wrap up by the end of August so that election officials can begin to prepare ballots for November.