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Poll: Arizona voters strongly support measure to tax rich for education

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

KTAR News 92.3 FM continues to cover education in Arizona. This week’s focus is on “The Changing Face of the Arizona Teacher.”

PHOENIX — A proposed ballot measure that would tax the wealthy to fund public schools has strong support from Arizona voters, a new poll found.

The poll by FM3 Research, a California-based research firm, shows 65 percent of the Arizona voters surveyed support the Invest in Education Act.

“What we see through that polling data is that the state of Arizona supports funding education in Arizona, and they support this measure,” said Invest in Education Campaign Chair Josh Buckley, who’s also a high school government teacher in Mesa.

The measure would raise the income tax rate by 3.46 percent on individual incomes above $250,000 or household incomes higher than $500,000. The rate would increase by 4.46 percent for individual incomes above $500,000 and household incomes above $1 million.

Sixty percent of the new funds would go toward teacher salaries. Forty percent would be added for all-day kindergarten and other uses.

Over the last few weeks, teachers have been busy collecting signatures. They need to collect more than 150,000 valid signatures by July 5 to get the measure on the November ballot.

According to the poll, support for the Invest in Education measure stems from a deeply-perceived need for more public school funding. A whopping 86 percent of Arizona voters surveyed see a need for more funding.

The poll also found 71 percent of Arizona voters believe the recently approved state budget that includes a 20 percent teacher pay raise by 2020 and an additional $600 million in flexible spending is not enough, and that more needs to be done to improve education in Arizona.

The poll shows support is strong for the Invest in Education Act across various demographic groups, including women, Latinos and voters over 50 years old. Among political parties, 88 percent of Democrats said they support the measure, compared to 43 percent of Republicans.

“What this really shows us is what the Red for Ed movement as a whole showed us – that people in Arizona are fed up,” said Noah Karvelis, a music teacher and an Arizona Educators Untied organizer. “They’re tired of waiting for answers, and they’re ready to take power into their own hands.”

The poll surveyed 646 Arizona voters likely to participate in the upcoming November election. Interviews were conducted over landline and cell phones from May 21-24. Of the participants, 39 percent were Republican and 31 were Democrats.

KTAR News 92.3