Arizona teachers return to Capitol to kick off Invest In Ed education tax effort – AZCentral

Posted: February 17, 2020 at 6:45 pm


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More than 100 Arizona teachers returned to the state Capitol on Monday to rally for an education tax measure, carrying signs and wearing bright red T-shirts,the color symbolizing the #RedForEd movement.

The one-hour rally was a quiet affair compared to 2018's week-long walkout, which brought tens of thousands of teachers out of their classrooms protesting stagnant wages and low classroom funding.

The educators on Monday came to support Invest In Education, a proposed ballot measure that would raise nearly $1 billion for education by taxing the state's wealthiest residents.

The rally didn't interfere with classes schools were closed Monday for PresidentsDay. Invest In Ed organizers marked the Capitol with more than 1,800 red and white signs, each signifying an unfilledteacher position in the state.

The Arizona Supreme Court knocked the first iteration of theinitiative off the 2018 ballot just a few months before the election, spurring an outcry from the teachers who spent months collecting signatures.

This time around, supporters must collect at least 237,645 signatures from voters to qualify for November's ballot. On Monday, education leaders urged teachers to grab signs and supplies to start collecting signatures in their spare time.

Kelly Trujillo, a Kindergarten teacher in Tempe, said additional money sent to schools by state lawmakersfor teacher salaries after 2018's walkout helped, but did not boost everyone's salary. Because the state used a narrow definition of a teacher, certain support staff, for example, were not included in the calculations for the raises.

Many districts, including hers, used the money for everyone, spreading it more thinly.

Trujillo said her paycheck has not grown enough to allow her the financial freedom she wants.

"I have to live with a roommate," she said."I've been teaching for 15 years, and I would love to be able to buy a house and live by myself."

The measure would createa 3.5%tax surcharge for single individuals making more than $250,000 or married couples making more than $500,000.

The current income tax rate in Arizona for someone making$159,001 or more is 4.5%. Arizona's average income tax rate is one of the lowest in the nation.

The money would go to the following, according to Invest in Education:

Gov. Doug Ducey rolled out a plan to raise teacher salaries 20% by 2020. So far, the Legislature has sent enough money for a 15% raise the last 5% is expected in the upcoming budget.

The #20by2020 teacher raises in all will cost the state $644 million, compared withan additional nearly $500 million Invest In Ed would raise for teacher and support staff salaries.

Ducey has also increased education funding in other areas, but educators have said it's still not enough to restore all the cuts made during the Great Recession.

Reach the reporter at Lily.Altavena@ArizonaRepublic.com or follow her on Twitter @LilyAlta.

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Arizona teachers return to Capitol to kick off Invest In Ed education tax effort - AZCentral

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February 17th, 2020 at 6:45 pm

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