Proposition 126 a pay cut for state’s teachers

To the editor:

Valuing the teaching profession is important to the citizens of Arizona as evidenced by numerous news reports and public opinion polls. In response, commitments have been appropriately made by the Legislature and governor to increase teacher pay. Ironically, Proposition 126 will negate a significant portion of their efforts to address the issue.

This has to do with the fact that in 1999 voters passed Proposition 301 to provide funding to pay teachers throughout the state, but it will expire in 2021. The Legislature recognized the problem and recently passed a bill that will effectively extend the revenue generated by Proposition 301 when it expires. This includes revenue generated by tax on sales and existing service transactions.

As with many changes in law, the devil lurks in the details. Although Proposition 126 is a constitutional amendment that grandfathers existing taxes on services in Arizona, it specifically prohibits new taxes on services or expanding the types of services that may be taxed.

Accordingly, taxes currently levied on service providers would be considered a new tax since the bill passed by the Legislature will not become effective until after Proposition 126 would become law. An analysis done by the Grand Canyon Institute projects that about one-third of the revenue approved by the Legislature and governor to compensate teachers will be lost. This amounts to about an annual reduction of $250 million. Governor Ducey is on record in opposition to Proposition 126.

State law already requires a two-thirds majority in the Legislature to increase taxes and this provides ample protection from unwarranted tax increases. We believe there is no need for a constitutional amendment, especially one that will result in a pay decrease for teachers across the state. We ask everyone to please vote NO on Proposition 126.

Tom Heck Ed.D., former superintendent, Litchfield School District, and Jac Heiss, former superintendent Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry, and Technology —  affiliates of The Best Public Education in Arizona Foundation www.lovepublicedaz.org