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Arizona voters approve Prop 208 to increase education funding

PHOENIX – Arizona voters approved a statewide ballot initiative to implement a new tax to help fund education in the state.

Voters had approved the initiative 51.99%-49.88% at the time it was called by The Associated Press on Thursday night, which was a difference of approximately 116,000 votes.

Proposition 208, also known as the Invest in Ed initiative, will impose a 3.5% income tax surcharge on personal income for those who earn more than $250,000 and couples whose income exceeds $500,000 to fund education in Arizona.

The money will be used to hire and increase the salaries of teachers, nurses, counselors, classroom aides and bus drivers.

Smaller portions of the funding will go toward expanding career and technical education programs for students as well as mentoring and retention programs for new teachers.

Supporters of Prop 208, like Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas, had said that the measure is what the state needs to bring back critical education funding that was cut during the 2008 recession.

“We are happy that the Arizona voters have said yes on this, so we’re looking forward to seeing it implemented quickly,” Thomas told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday. “We need tog et these resources to our classrooms.”

Supporters estimated it would raise more than $900 million a year for public schools while the Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimated it would generate $825 million.

Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey had urged voters to reject Prop 208, claiming out-of-state interests funded the initiative and would be detrimental to the state’s economy in the long run.

The Goldwater Institute previously estimated the economic loss to be 124,000 jobs and $2.4 billion in state and local tax revenues over the course of 10 years.

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