Socorro Carrillo

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Prop 123 education measure too close to call; Prop 124 approved

After months of frustration, hope, and Twitter mentions, voters’ decision on Proposition 123, a measure that could give schools $3.5 billion over the next decade, was too close to call on Tuesday. Early returns showed the proposal narrowly headed toward approval, with 51 percent of voters in favor of the measure.

Voters on Tuesday also approved a pension measure, Proposition 124, with more than 70 percent casting a yes vote in early returns.

Although ballot options divided voters, many who went to the polls Tuesday agreed that polling station conditions had improved from March’s presidential preference election, including at the Salvation Army’s Phoenix Citadel Corps in downtown Phoenix.

If Prop 123 passes, local school leaders will decide how to spend the money to finance schools. If it ends in defeat once the final tally comes in, a long-running debate over how schools in Arizona are funded will continue.

Those in favor of the proposition expressed their excitement for the potential uses of the funds, especially for teacher raises.

However, the proposition states the funds could be used for anything related to education such as supplies, pay raises and building renovations.

The proposition would re-allocate some of Arizona’s land trust funds to public and charter schools over the next decade to resolve a long-standing lawsuit over education money. About $2.5 billion of the proposition money would come from the land trust.

Voters and public officials have intensely debated the proposition on social media. Gov. Doug Ducey continually urged voters to vote yes on Prop. 123 and tweeted a photo of himself on Tuesday walking into a polling area.

But Arizona treasurer Jeff DeWitt opposed the measure, saying it would drain the state land trust over the next decade, jeopardizing education in the long run.

Prop 124, which will allow legislators to change pension funding for public safety workers, was approved by 70 percent of voters in early returns. Legislators want to modify and adjust pensions based on the cost of living.

Earlier in the week, the Mesa Police Association posted its opposition on its Facebook page in a statement calling it,“part of a national, Koch-brother, big-bank supported ‘reform’ that seeks to ultimately eliminate traditional public-safety pensions in lieu of a ‘defined contribution’ plan…”