Tags Articles tagged with "Prop 123"

Prop 123

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MUSD Governing Board is deciding the budget impact of Prop. 123 funds. Photo by Ethan McSweeney

By Ethan McSweeney

With additional funding from Proposition 123 secured, Maricopa Unified School District introduced a plan to use the cash to add 13 new teachers and other hires, as well as salary boost for employees.

MUSD Superintendent Steve Chestnut presented the proposed new spending for next year’s budget at the district’s Governing Board meeting Wednesday night. MUSD will receive more than $3.46 million in additional revenue for the next school year with $2.5 million of that coming from Proposition 123, which Arizona voters approved on a razor-thin margin last month.

More than $926,000 of the additional money would go to a 3.7-percent salary increase for MUSD employees under the proposal.

“We’re very excited to be able to propose that,” Chestnut said. “It’s the largest increase we’ve offered in many years as a result of passage of 123.”

More than $700,000 is included next year to pay for the additional 13 teachers. MUSD would need to work to fill those positions for the next school year, Chestnut said.

It’s possible additional revenue for the next school year will increase slightly in the near future above the $3.4 million, Chestnut said.

Potential new hires also include an additional security officer, a nurse, a mental health counselor and three in-school suspension teachers. Five special education staff members, including two teachers, are proposed in new spending, too.

“Our special ed. population continues to grow and get more complex,” Chestnut said. “We’re excited about the fact that we will have some cost savings this year in special education expenditures.”

Those savings will come from being able to bring 12 special education students who currently go to Casa Grande for school to come back to Maricopa, Chestnut said. The Southwest Education Center, which provides service to the students, plans to place a teacher at Maricopa Wells Middle School for those 12.

The proposal also includes $535,000 for an annual stipend for all returning staff. This year’s stipend would be much larger than what was paid out last year, Board Member Gary Miller said.

A preliminary budget will be presented at the next MUSD Governing Board meeting on June 22, which will allow input to be provided on creating the final budget for the 2016-17 school year. That final budget will be introduced at the July 13 meeting.

By a 51-49 margin, Arizona voters in May approved Proposition 123, which will allow Arizona to tap into the State Land Trust to provide K-12 schools with an addition $3.5 billion over the next 10 years.

The measure was introduced to settle a long-standing lawsuit from the schools against the state Legislature. A judge determined the state owed schools up to $1.3 billion for failing to provide the required inflation funding increases during the recession years.

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Fewer than 9,000 votes separated approval of Proposition 123 from disapproval in the May 17 Special Election.

By late Wednesday, ayes had it at 50.48 percent.

Tuesday’s election had a statewide turnout of almost 28 percent. There were two questions on the ballot.

If the count holds up for Prop. 123, it is expected to provide $598 million to Arizona schools by increasing the annual distributions from the state land trust permanent funds for schools. It is a settlement of so-called inflation litigation against the state Legislature. A Superior Court judge said the state owed schools $1.3 billion.

Pinal County voted in favor of the settlement, 16,822 to 14,985.

Maricopa Unified School District Superintendent Steve Chestnut said he expected the vote to be close. If it does pass, MUSD expects to receive around $1.25 million in June. That will be worked into the 2016-17 budget, with a vote probably at the June 22 meeting of the board.

Proposition 124 had an easier time getting voter approval Tuesday. It passed by a margin of 70 percent to 30 percent.

It amends the Constitution to allow a compounding cost-of-living adjustment for the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System.

Pinal County voters approved the proposition, 20,884 to 10,414.

Proposition 123
Yes    464,847     50.48%
No     456,058     49.52%

Proposition 124
Yes     625773         70%
No     267,098     30%

Proposition 123 (education funding)

The Basics
Prop. 123 amends the Arizona Constitution to increase the annual distributions from the state land trust permanent funds to schools, universities and other public institutions from 2.5 percent of the average market values of the funds to 6.9 percent for the next 10 fiscal years.

Background
The state land trust was established when Arizona became a U.S. territory in 1863, setting aside parcels to benefit schools. The state Constitution requires distributions from the state trust lands to public schools to be 2.5 percent of the market values of the funds through Fiscal Year 2020-21.

In 2000, Arizona voters approved Prop. 301, which includes a requirement the Legislature adjusts education spending for inflation. In 2010, the Arizona Education Association and other parties sued the state and state treasurer (Doug Ducey at the time), claiming lawmakers did not adjust education funding for inflation during the recession years.

In 2013, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled the Legislature had violated the Voter Protection Act and owed schools about $1.3 billion. In 2014, a Superior Court judge ordered the state to reset the base level of its K-12 funding and pay $331 million more per year to schools as compensation.

The Legislature appealed and agreed to settle with the plaintiffs. That settlement is Prop. 123. If passed by voters, the proposition would provide $298 million to schools in June and $300 million next fiscal year. If the proposition fails, the lawsuit continues.

Proposition 123 could bring $2 million to MUSD over the next two years. It is also controversial among Arizona voters. It has divided Republican from Republican, Democrat from Democrat and education supporter from education supporter.

Is the settlement the best deal the schools can get in a timely manner, or should they continue to sue for everything the courts have ordered, or is the funding formula in Prop. 123 too unstable for its purpose?


Proposition 124 (public retirement)

The Basics
Prop. 124 amends the Arizona Constitution to create an exception in the public retirement system to allow adjustments to the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System in approved Senate Bill 1428.

Background
Gov. Doug Ducey signed SB 1428 on Feb. 16, creating a new retirement benefit structure for public safety personnel hired on or before July 1, 2017, without a significant raise in taxes. It included a new mechanism to create a cost-of-living adjustment. The Arizona Supreme Court determined Article 29, Section 1 of the state Constitution prohibits adjusting down a future permanent benefit. If approved, Prop. 124 would replace the permanent benefit increases for retired members and their survivors with a compounding cost-of-living adjustment. The COLA would be based on the average annual percentage change in the Phoenix-Mesa consumer price index.

No arguments against Prop. 124 were filed with the state’s election office.


This item appeared in the May issue of InMaricopa.