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Invest In Ed initiative would raise $940 million per year for AZ schools, supporters say

The money for the new “Invest in Ed” initiative would be generated by a tax income surcharge on single filers' $250K+ income, $500K+ for couples filing jointly.

PHOENIX — Two years after failing to get a school funding initiative off the ground, Arizona education advocates are back with a new initiative that supporters say would bring in $940 million a year for K-12 schools.

The money for the new “Invest in Ed” initiative would be generated by a 3.5 percent income tax surcharge on single filers’ taxable income above $250,000, and on taxable income above $500,000 for couples filing jointly.

How would the initiative affect taxpayers?

David Lujan of the Arizona Center for Economic Progress, and Rebecca Gau, of Stand for Children, gave this example:

For a single person with taxable income of $365,000, the income tax surcharge would amount to about $15 a day, or $5,745.

Gau said that example would cover the majority of taxpayers affected.

Under the initiative, Lujan said, Arizona’s effective tax rate on the top 1 percent of income earners would rank 26th in the country, at 4.4 percent, versus the current rank of 34th, at 3.1 percent.

Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, one of the initiative backers, said 50 percent of the new money would be directed to salaries for certificated school employees and 25 percent to school staff. The remainder would be split among programs that benefit K-12 education.

The new initiative re-unites many of the organizations behind the failed 2018 effort. That initiative was hastily crafted and ultimately doomed by flawed language that prevented it from getting on the ballot.

This time, the new initiative language will be vetted by the Legislative Council, Thomas said.

Once the language is approved, initiative supporters can launch a petition drive seeking the 250,000 or so signatures need to get on the November ballot.