Proposition 118 – a constitutional amendment which would change the way the state distributes state trust land income to public institutions, including schools, colleges and prisons – was still too close to call on Thursday, November 08.
The measure was failing by 3,400 votes, or less than one percent of the vote, leaving its future uncertain and hanging by the final 60,000 early and provisional ballots in the state that are not yet counted.
State Treasurer Doug Ducey, who is pushing the measure, said he and other supporters are watching closely as the final votes are tallied, and he hopes that voters understood the positive impact the constitutional amendment would have on education funding.
“I think that if people understand that this will fund education more reliably and consistently, they’ll vote for it so we’re hoping that these remaining votes will put it over the finish line,” Ducey said.
Under the current formula, funding is determined by the average rate of return for the permanent land endowment trust fund investment over the past five years, deducted for change in inflation, and multiplied that by the average market value over the same period.
The change would simplify the formula, supporters say, and stabilize funding for the public institutions that rely on the funds, mostly K-12 education, by stopping the up and down flux of the market that affects the funds now.
If approved, the proposition would change the annual distribution from the state trust land permanent funds to 2.5 percent of the average market values of the fund for the immediately preceding five calendar years.
“It simplifies the funding formula and ensures that there’s consistent reliable funding every year for K12 education. If prop 118 passes, we’ll never have a zero dollar distribution year. All of that is positive for K12 and we’re hoping the voters will see that,” Ducey said.
Ducey is still hopeful that there are enough yes votes in the uncounted ballots to turn the tide for the measure, but he said it’s far from a sure thing.
“While we’re hopeful, we would need a lot of the remaining votes would have to be yes votes…. As long as they’re counting votes and mathematically it’s possible, we’d like to see it pass,” he said.