The House Education Committee on Monday will hear HB2158, sponsored by Representative Doug Coleman. HB 2158 is the mirror bill to SB 1390, which was introduced by Senator Kate Brophy McGee, with 56 Senate and House co-sponsors.
The bills propose the extension of Proposition 301 set to begin after the proposition’s original lifespan which ends in 2021. An amendment will be offered to sunset the new statutory extension eight years after it takes effect, concluding in 2029. The amendment will also convert the Classroom Site Fund to dedicate all dollars allocated to the Fund for teacher pay. Using FY 2017 numbers as an example, $384 million would be dedicated to teacher pay.
Because administrators like those in the Tucson Unified School District used Proposition 301 to shore up their finances, Prop 301 supporters would like to see the bills amended to include a “use it or lose it” Provision. The provision among other matters, would require schools to pay teachers their earned incentive pay in the year the state awarded it including all of their base pay and menu options. Currently, a lack of transparency and less-than rigorous requirements for Proposition 301 money allocations allowed TUSD to build up a $20.8 million cumulative surplus in recent fiscal years.
Similar provisions should be amended and adopted for proposition 123 as well.
Jose Borrajero, the founder of the Arizona People’s Lobbyist said his objection to HB2158 is that it “claims that the money will have to be used for teacher salaries, but somehow past promises to that effect have not materialized. It is difficult to be enthused about another tax increase when we already spend nearly 50% of the state budget, over 66% of property taxes, and about 10% of sales taxes on education. This is especially troublesome since we are spending on average just barely over 50% of the education budget on teacher salaries and other classroom related expenses. We have raided the land trust fund via Prop 123 and continue to approve numerous budget overrides, but the teachers are still getting the short end of the stick.”