PHOENIX - After additional ballots were counted in Maricopa County, the lead for Yes on Prop 123 statewide doubled to a margin of 16,000 votes.
Based on the number of ballots remaining to be counted, it is mathematically impossible for the No on Prop 123 side to win.
Gov. Doug Ducey was elated as the "too close to call" vote swung in his favor.
"Prop 123 has won," he said in a Thursday night media briefing. "It is a victory tonight. It is a victory for our students."
This was a squeaker. The "Yes" side on Prop 123 is ahead by just two percentage points after tens of thousands of ballots were counted Thursday. That lead, however, is large enough to mathematically guarantee victory. While the governor and education leaders celebrate many teachers already want to know, what's next?
Ducey was elated after voters approved a deal he brokered with education groups and the legislature to pump $3.5 billion into Arizona schools over the next 10 years.
"Most principals and superintendets told us that these dollars are going to go to teachers for raises as soon as possible," he said.
The cash settles a school-funding lawsuit against the State that education groups won. Teachers and parents at a capitol rally said the governor can't stop there.
The governor is not ready to talk about next steps. Right now, he's enjoying the big one voters just took.
"Tonight' s a big night but we've got the right coalition to continue to improve K-12 education," he said.
The vote will make a big impact once its declared official in the next two weeks. Arizona schools will immediately get their first $250 million installment of Prop 123 money for the current fiscal year. In July they'll get another $250 millon payment.
Gov. Doug Ducey released the following statement to the media on Thursday night:
“The votes have been counted and the result is clear. This is a huge victory for public education in Arizona. After years of lawsuits and fighting, we are moving forward and funding our teachers, students and schools – instead of lawyers.
“Thanks to the voters, schools will soon see a cash infusion, with billions of new dollars flowing in the years ahead. This will make the difference in the lives of kids and teachers all across this state, and that can’t be understated. These are the resources educators have been telling us they need, and by coming together and working together, we were able to make it happen.
“Many said we should have waited until November, when passage would have been easier. Special election turnout presents unique challenges, and this is certainly the most difficult political environment anyone can recall. However, the schools needed money now, so we took the harder path because it was the right thing to do. I’m gratified that it paid off, with a majority saying yes, and now schools will see funds as early as next month.
“I want to thank all the teachers, parents, education champions, business leaders and elected leaders on both sides of the aisle who worked tirelessly to advocate for this proposition. This was truly a broad, bipartisan coalition that brought individuals together who don’t always agree. While this campaign is over, that spirit should live on in all we do, especially when it comes to education.”