YUMA, Ariz. - It is not that much of a secret that in Arizona, property tax as a source of revenue is not that welcome. A survey conducted by Data Orbital, sponsored by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce shows that Arizonians are actually in favor of increasing sales and income tax to create revenue for education.
The survey had 550 participants and a 4.2 margin of error. 57% were in favor of increasing the current 0.6 cents sales tax dedicated to education to a full penny. In measuring which forms of tax were the most favorable, in case of an increase, property taxes were the least favored while sales and income taxes were highly favored.
The proposed plan, drafted by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, would propose an initiative on the 2020 ballot where voters would get to decide whether to increase sales and property tax. If the initiative is approved, Arizona will see about $1.5 billion in revenue for public education.
In Yuma, over 80% of the money allocated is for funding teacher salaries. The passing of Arizona Prop 206, where voters approved raising the minimum wage didn't apply to teachers. Therefore, school districts, like Yuma's District One, have had to freeze teacher salaries and while also increasing class sizes. The figure that comes with the tax hike would allow for unfrozen salaries and even improvements to outdated structures.
"Schools around the state not only froze teacher salaries, but they increased class sizes,” said Superintendent James Sheldahl. "This is an effort to decrease class sizes and just in those few priorities the kind of money they are talking about is a lot of money."
Last year, the State of Arizona designated over $66 million last year for education, as is required and taking inflation into consideration.
Many education advocacy groups in Arizona fear that if the initiative that goes on the ballot is for raising both property and sales taxes, it most likely will not do as good as if it were to only propose raising sales and income taxes. This second option would raise over $400 million in revenue for education.
Another possibility that many advocacy groups, like Stand for Children Arizona, hope will be included in the ballot is to propose the latter tax hike.
"The one billion in property tax is a heavy lift for voters to approve," said Rebecca Gau, Director of Stand For Children Arizona.