Arizona Voters Support Sales Tax Continuation to Fund Public Education
PHOENIX, Jan. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Seven out of 10 Arizona voters support the continuation of the existing one-cent sales tax to fund public education.
That was among the findings of a poll commissioned by a number of educational and business organizations released today.
“Support for continuation of the tax is broad-based, with Independents, Republicans, and Democrats all in favor,” said Dr. Bruce Merrill of Merrill Research, who conducted the poll.
“Voters seem to understand that the key to a solid education system is stable funding, school performance, and accountability,” said Ann-Eve Pedersen, President of the Arizona Education Parent Network. “With stable funding, educational institutions will be able to plan and implement strategies to improve student achievement and outcomes.”
This past summer, a number of groups representing various business, parent, and education community perspectives came together with the goal of improving Arizona’s educational outcomes. Organizations providing input included Education Breakthrough Network, Arizona Business and Education Coalition, Arizona Education Parent Network, Arizona School Boards Association, Arizona Education Association, Teach for America, and Stand for Children, among others.
In addition to meeting Arizona’s future public education needs, education groups are concerned by the pending expiration of Prop. 100 and the education funding gap it will create.
In May of 2010, Arizona voters enacted Prop. 100, a one-cent sales tax that has generated approximately $900 million annually. The expiration of the tax will result in a loss of hundreds of millions in education funding in FY 2014. Studies show Arizona continually lags among the bottom of all states in public education funding and performance.
A group is in the final planning stages for a November 2012 ballot initiative. Details will be released in mid-to-late January.
The poll, conducted last month, surveyed 800 likely voters in Arizona, and revealed the electorate’s desire to strengthen the state’s education system across-the-board. Some key findings were:
- When asked about spending priorities, eight in 10 respondents ranked public education as very high or high.
- Voters support the notion of Performance Plans created by each school district and charter school to demonstrate how funding will be used to increase student performance.
- If the proposal includes scholarships for universities and community college students, 71% of voters are more likely to support the continuation. There was also substantial support for using increased university funding for both scholarships and operations.
- Three out of four likely voters believe that losing the Prop. 100 funds will be a very serious issue for education in Arizona. In addition, 75% of respondents expressed little to no confidence that the Legislature would increase education funding even if revenues were to rise.
- By a wide margin, voters support establishing a base level of funding for K-12 education, which would bar the legislature from cutting education funding below 2011 levels.
SOURCE Arizona Education Parent Network