PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Education advocates rallied at the State Capitol Wednesday, concerned that the legislature is trying to work around the will of the voters when it comes to education funding.
Red For Ed supporters – in red shirts – and Stand For Children supporters – in blue shirts – were on the same page during the Hands Across the Capitol rally.
“I feel like they should invest in us,” said Phoenix high school senior Zujey Rivera, who actually campaigned for Prop 208 last election cycle.
“I was sending messages and making calls,” she said.
Voters passed the initiative in November 2020 to tax the wealthy to produce more revenue for education. It’s expected to bring in at least $800 million for schools in the first year. Teachers and parents say a proposed bill in the legislature, SB 1783, however, is meant to give tax cuts to the wealthy, thereby taking away hundreds of millions away from schools.
“We’re angry that they keep trying these sneaky tactics to pass something that is illegally undermining what the voters voted for,” Stand For Children executive director Rebecca Gau said.
The bill would change the state's tax system and let some businesses avoid paying the new tax surcharge to raise funds for schools. Republican Sen. JD Mesnard sponsored the bill, saying it ensures that small businesses aren't affected by Prop 208.
The governor, who opposed the ballot measure during the campaign, recently outlined his two-pronged strategy to a group of local business leaders.
Gov. Doug Ducey has also shown support for SB 1783. "Prop 208 promised additional dollars to K-12 education. I have no problem with that, at all,” he said. “But what it also did was it took our top-tier tax rate from 4.5% to 8%. It was a 77% increase. That I have real issues with," Ducey said.
Jasmine Hernandez, a 4th grader from Phoenix, told Arizona’s Family she wants her teachers to get a raise. “My favorite subject is reading and I would really like to get more books and maybe a library,” she said. “Our school doesn’t have that much good equipment and I think it would really help our school out.”
“Arizona’s future depends on their students, and you are taking away our number one resource away – their public education,” 7th and 8th grade teacher Chico Robinson said.
Though Rivera will be an ASU student next year, she’s not going to stop fighting for K-12 education funding. “There are more kids, not just me. There are kids in other grade levels. I actually do have siblings, and I would want to see them strive as well as I did,” she said.