Many Arizonans say the state’s public schools need increased funding, but few agree on where to find the money.
Arizona legislators and Gov. Doug Ducey could tap these 10 revenue sources to re-invest $1 billion in sustainable, permanent and equitable funding for K-12 public schools, according to AZ Schools Now.
AZ Schools Now, a coalition of business, faith and education groups, presented these options that would also support Arizona Education Progress Meter goals to fuel students’ success and eliminate the teacher shortage crisis, during a news conference today at the Arizona State Capitol.
Infographic by Lisa Irish/Arizona Education News Service
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Eliminating tax credits for private and public schools, issuing bonds for new school construction instead of paying cash up front, redirecting results-based funding going to A-rated schools and halting individual and corporate tax cuts scheduled to take effect this year are some of the ideas presented by the coalition of 15 organizations focused on the next steps to invest in Arizona’s public schools.
This weekend, Senate President Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler (District 17), who sponsored the law that lets corporations “give what they would otherwise owe the state in income taxes to organizations that provide scholarships for private schools,” said he’s willing to consider a cap now that the amount has topped $74 million a year, according to a Capitol Media Services article.
Revenue from corporate taxes dropped from 8.3 percent of total revenue in fiscal year 2008 to 5.1 percent of total revenue in fiscal year 2018, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee’s Fiscal year 2018 appropriations report – FY 2008 to 2018 “Then and Now” Comparisons.
“There is $500 million less in corporate income tax revenue in 2018 than was generated in 2008, and that definitely has a negative impact on the general fund,” said Dr. Anabel Aportela, director of research and analysis for Arizona Association of School Business Officials and Arizona School Boards Association.
However, that reduction in corporate income tax revenue is not all the result of tax cuts, because there are other reasons why a corporation would pay less in taxes, Aportela said.
“We can’t properly fund education (or any other program for that matter) if we continue to cut taxes for corporations and provide tax credits for the wealthy,” said Beth Simek, president of Arizona Parent Teacher Association.
Corporate tax cuts and Student Tuition Organization tax credits remove resources from the state general fund that could be used to help fund public schools, said Dawn Penich-Thacker, communications director for Save Our Schools Arizona.
“Private corporations worth billions of dollars pay zero property taxes in Arizona and special interests enjoy tax loopholes totaling millions of dollars each year. Yet, Gov. Ducey says the state can’t afford to pay teachers or fund classrooms, and that’s simply false,” Penich-Thacker said. “If corporations and special interests were made to pay even minimal taxes to the state the same way we regular people do, Arizona would not have the education funding crisis we face today.”