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Lawmakers seek to extend Arizona’s education sales tax with new bill

(Flickr/U.S. Department of Education)

PHOENIX — A bill making its way through the Arizona State Legislature seeks to protect funding for public schools.

House Bill 2158 would continue the education sales tax for another eight years. Currently, it generates $643 million a year for Arizona’s K-12 public schools as well as for the state’s public colleges and universities.

State Rep. Doug Coleman, R-Apache Junction, said his bill is designed to “get rid of the fiscal cliff that’s approaching due to the expiration of the education sales tax.” He noted the education sales tax is set to expire in three years, and that’s creating uncertainty among schools.

“They’re starting to have anxiety about the $643 million and the possibility that it could go away,” he said.

The education sales tax was first approved by voters in 2000 under Proposition 301. The money generated from it goes toward teacher salaries, classroom expenses and building maintenance.

Coleman’s bill was approved by the House Education Committee this week. It needs to pass the full House before it can be sent to the Senate for consideration.

Sen. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, spoke in support of the bill during the committee hearing and called it “a bipartisan step forward.”

She introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Her bill has 56 co-sponsors, including both Democrats and Republicans. It has yet to bed scheduled for a Senate committee hearing.

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