Arizona voters passed Proposition 123 this week by a slim margin.
The measure settles a years-long legal battle over inflation funding for schools. In the next decade, the state will pay out $3.5 billion to Arizona public schools, largely from the State Land Trust Fund.
Arizona Week Friday analyzes what’s next for schools, teachers and state leaders.
Arizona school districts are in the midst of finalizing their budgets. They had to create at least two plans– one if Prop 123 passed and another if it failed.
The Sunnyside Unified School District is one of 10 in the Tucson-area that committed to raising teacher salaries.
“It will not solve the problems, but I think it will be a first step in the right direction,” said teacher Mary Martinez, who is also president of the Sunnyside Education Association, which bargains for teachers.
She said the district was short more than 40 teachers throughout last year and there are openings for next year.
“Sometimes they leave our district just looking for money, but it’s not because they want to leave our students or our community,” Martinez said.
Possible legal action
Arizona Treasurer Jeff DeWit predicted a “litany of lawsuits” if Prop. 123 passed.
So far, the only lawsuit was filed by a Phoenix man Wednesday. Michael Pierce is a 64-year-old retiree who said he never filed a lawsuit before. He said the education funding measure violates the Enabling Act, a federal law that made Arizona a state and established the State Land Trust and how it is used.
“People are tired of the same old games, and I want to empower myself," Pierce said. "I am not going to sit here and be helpless, so that’s one of the reasons I took the initiative. I am a citizen and the act provides for any citizen to defend the Enabling Act."
Supporters and opponents of Proposition 123 seemed to agree on one thing – the education funding conversation isn’t over.
“I think this razor-thin election gives us an indication of how displeased the voters are with this plan,” State Rep. Randall Friese, D-Tucson, said.
Major changes likely won't come until the next legislative session, after this fall's election.
“We have to have a conversation about how we restructure education funding in this state,” said state Rep. Chris Ackerley, R-Sahuarita.
On the program
- Arizona Treasurer Jeff DeWit
- Sunnyside teacher and teacher’s union president Mary Martinez
- Chairman of the Vote No on Prop. 123 campaign Morgan Abraham
- State Rep. Randy Friese, D-Tucson
- State Rep. Chris Ackerley, R-Sahuarita