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Invest in Ed ballot initiative meets deadline, turns in voter signatures

Josh Buckley, chair of the Invest in Ed campaign. (KTAR.com Photo/Kathy Cline)

PHOENIX — Arizona Educators United said it turned in more than enough signatures Thursday to get its tax-on-the-wealthy initiative to fund schooling on the November ballot.

Mesa teacher Josh Buckley, who chaired the Invest in Ed campaign, said the group had collected 270,000 signatures to turn over to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office. The campaign had to submit at least 150,642 valid signatures by Thursday’s deadline to get the proposal in front of voters.

“The overwhelming support shows that the people of Arizona understand that we must do more to support our students, our educators and our communities,” Buckley said.

The Invest in Education initiative would raise the income tax rate on individuals making more than $250,000 by 3.46 percent and on those making more than $500,000 by 4.46 percent.

The proposition was expected to raise $690 million, which would be deposited into the Classroom Site Fund. Sixty percent of the dedicated revenue will be directed to teacher salary increases and employment-related expenses and 40 percent to maintenance and operations of public schools.

Supporters said the Invest in Education Act gave Arizona voters the chance to fix the state’s teacher shortage and class size crisis, ensuring a dedicated funding source politicians cannot touch.

“We wanted to know what voters were going to tell us, where should we spend the money and where should the revenue stream come from?” Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas said.

“And what the voters told us through a year’s worth of research — online polling, surveys, direct calls, one-on-one, one-on-two, one-on-three conversations — is the money needs to go as close to the classroom as possible, and that’s why we’re sending it to the Classroom Site Fund.”

Teachers and supporters of Arizona public education had been up and down the state for the petition drive that was sparked on the last day of Red for Ed teacher protests in May.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Kathy Cline and Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.

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