PHOENIX — An Arizona proposition to pump $3.5 billion into K-12 education passed by a narrow margin on Thursday, according to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.
“The votes have been counted and the result is clear,” Ducey said in a statement. “This is a huge victory for public education in Arizona.”
Voters finished casting their ballots on Tuesday, though election officials said the sheer number would take a few days to sort through.
More than 10 Arizona counties had halted the ballot counts for the evening, including Maricopa and Pima, the two most populous counties in the state.
The measure to put $3.5 billion into K-12 education over the next 10 years had solid early support in the state. A poll conducted in April said nearly 40 percent of Arizona voters planned to cast their ballot in support of Prop. 123, while about 25 percent planned to vote against it.
However, as Tuesday’s vote moved closer, some began to question the need for the proposition and claimed the Legislature had the money to settle a lawsuit all along.
Prop. 123 was designed to settle a long-running lawsuit over K-12 school funding. Schools sued over the Legislature’s failure to follow a voter-approved law and increase school funding each year to adjust for inflation.
The measure provides about 70 percent of what schools said they were owed and stops a court fight that has already dragged out for more than five years. Schools said they are satisfied with the amount.
The settlement cash comes from about $1.3 billion in general fund money and $2.2 billion from a state land trust.
Ducey, lawmakers and many education community leaders supported the deal. Opponents included state Treasurer Jeff DeWit and the League of Women Voters of Arizona.