Arizona schools, consistently rated low in funding and class size and teacher pay, has decades worth of challenges to overcome.

Don’t’ expect Prop. 208 to fix these things. Not only is it likely to fail its promise of improved education, it stands to damage the state’s economy as a whole if passed.

Prop. 208 would raise state income taxes from 4.5% to 8% for those individuals making at least $250,000 per year or couples with $500,000.

About half of those who’d be affected are small business owners, according to at least one study. The implications of a tax increase of more than 75% will force many businesses to make decisions about jobs and even whether to continue to operate in Arizona.

If passed, Prop. 208 would propel Arizona to the top tier of taxing states, a label that will do little to attract businesses or even wealthy individuals to relocate.

It’s the damaging effects on small business that should dissuade voters from approving Prop. 208. Businesses have been battered this year, with some still closed from the coronavirus. The job market is recovering but still nowhere near a year ago.

Businesses do not need more uncertainty right now. The prospect of additional taxes after fighting the economic odds for most of 2020 is likely to be the proverbial straw on the camel’s back.

The state of Arizona has added $2 billion dollars to education over the past three years, more than double what Prop. 208 promises to add to state revenue. Arizona raised teacher pay by 20%. Locally, Lake Havasu City taxpayers – including businesses — took on property taxes to both raise teacher pay and to pay for large-scale school improvements.

If money alone is the solution to educational issues, then the $2 billion should’ve bought results. What exactly will additional amount of less than $900 million per year, as estimated by the legislative committee, do to improve education beyond offering higher pay?

The singular appeal of Prop. 208 is that it allows the majority of people, those who do not make at least $250,000 per year, to dictate to a wealthier minority.

Maybe this majority believe the rich have so much money some additional tax won’t be a burden. Maybe so, in a few rarified cases. Mostly, the $250,000 level isn’t considered rich. It’s an income level achievable by many and, in the case of many small businesses, it is income that is reinvested in a business to make it better or, these days, to keep it afloat.

Even Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden says he won’t raise taxes for those making less than $400,000 annually.

Prop. 208 isn’t likely to help education but is likely, if approved, to hurt the whole of Arizona.

— Today’s News-Herald


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