Prop 208 Tax Hike Punishes Small Businesses and Neglects Families in Need

Prop 208 Tax Hike Punishes Small Businesses and Neglects Families in Need

In a few months the Arizona residents will have the opportunity to vote on Proposition 208, a measure funded by out of state labor unions and special interest groups to impose a $1 Billion income tax increase on small businesses and entrepreneurs in the middle of a pandemic.  Not surprisingly, employers around the state are speaking out against the measure, as Prop 208 would kill thousands of jobs, punish small business owners and destroy our fragile economic recovery.

While the economic impacts may be devastating, what may be more infuriating to Arizona families is that Prop 208 does NOTHING to assist frustrated parents and students currently dealing with Covid-19 school closures and disrupted learning schedules. The revenue generated from this 78% tax increase would come with little accountability or oversight, leaving it up to school districts and administrators to spend the money how they see fit.

Prop 208 Crafted to Benefit Unions and Provide Pay Raises to Administrators

The backers of this massive tax increase do not care about families or small businesses in Arizona.  If they did, they would not have crafted a measure full of loopholes that allow funding to be siphoned off by district administrators and away from teachers and classrooms.  The initiative redefines teacher to include non-classroom administrative staff and changes existing law so that money is no longer earmarked for teachers and classroom spending. 

Of the $1 Billion anticipated to be collected if Prop 208 passes, not one dime will support parents as they battle to educate their children, not one dime is guaranteed to support teachers, and not one dime addresses improvements needed to overcome current environmental learning challenges.

Sadly, this lack of funding accountability in Prop 208 is by design. The backers of this measure know most people support K-12 and want to see improvements in the system. They are hoping that voters will not take a closer look at the fine print.

Measure will Derail AZ’s Economic Recovery by Punishing Job Creators and Small Businesses

According to the Tax Foundation, Prop 208 would give Arizona one of the highest small business tax rates in the country.  Under Prop 208, AZ small businesses will be taxed at a top rate of 8 percent (a 78 percent increase), giving us a higher income tax rate than Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Employers and entrepreneurs will flee to these lower tax states, turning the Grand Canyon State into the mini-California of the Southwest.

Sadly, the small businesses who have survived so far are just starting to dig themselves out of the wreckage of the Covid-19 shutdown. It is undeniable that small businesses were hit hardest by the economic downturn, as most mom and pop shops were forced to close while big corporations (who are exempt from this tax increase) were allowed to stay open. Now just as they are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, out-of-state labor unions and special interest groups want to hammer them with a massive tax hike at the ballot. They do not deserve this treatment.

Tone Deaf Measure Ignores Parents and Children in Desperate Need for Help

A cursory reading of Prop 208 shows that the backers of this tone-deaf initiative care little about Arizona families.  Currently the biggest crisis facing parents and students are the district-wide school closures and substandard online/distant learning conditions that have been forced upon them. They need help, yet the “solution” being offered up by the unions and special interest groups bankrolling this initiative is to dump more money into the system with no strings attached.

The only worthwhile investment in K-12 that should be considered right now is to provide direct aid to families to explore alternative educational opportunities and to help parents escape dysfunctional learning environments that are inflicting permanent damage on their kids.  Instead, Prop 208 soaks hardworking Arizona taxpayers with a massive tax hike that will likely result in nothing more than pay raises for school administrators in the middle of a pandemic.

Arizona voters should not be fooled – Prop 208 is bad for families, businesses, and our education system!

COVID-19 Provides Opportunity to Revolutionize Education

COVID-19 Provides Opportunity to Revolutionize Education

All across the country, K-12 educators and staff are holding families hostage and threatening to strike (again) if schools open up in the Fall for kids to learn in person.  They are claiming that it is not safe enough to teach, despite the fact that many districts are opening up to offer in person daycare services and are charging for the service. Parents and students that need an in-person learning option have become political pawns in the teacher union chess game to further their agenda.

If the unions and school shutdown lobby think they are winning the debate, they are sorely mistaken. With families getting their first glimpse of substandard online classroom instruction, parents are already sprinting out of their district school and opting for better alternatives.  In states such as Arizona, where school choice is popular and plentiful, parents easily have other options. 

As consumers, we are well accustomed to the luxuries of customization and flexibility.  In fact, we have come to expect it in almost every realm of goods and services.  Yet when it comes to education parents don’t realize they have a right to demand these features for their children. 

Families should have a market of options in which they consider the unique aptitude, learning style and interests of their child. Organizations and school choice advocates have been working for years to advance innovation and diversity in education and to question the top-down system of the status quo.   Additional demand from Covid-19 and opportunistic teacher unions is likely to expedite the revolution of educational options in Arizona.


Just as it sounds, microschools are small learning environments between 8 – 10 students that blend homeschooling with an in-class community environment.  In Arizona, this concept has been popularized by the company Prenda whose goal was to create a learning environment that was self-guided and fueled by a child’s own enthusiasm for learning. Prenda created an online platform that has made its model for learning accessible to students across the state.  Even in the most isolated and economically challenged areas of the state, such as the Apache Reservation, a microschool has popped up and is serving a small number of tribal students who would have had no other option but failing district schools.


Though certainly not a new concept, homeschooling is quickly gaining popularity.  Many parents who were thrust into “being the teacher” at the end of the 2020 school year have discovered they are rather good at it and are opting this year to take on the role full time.  In fact, in Maricopa County the number of families opting to homeschool their children this Fall has tripled over last year.

Pandemic Pods

Similar to microschools, parents are also forming “pandemic pods” for children in their families and neighborhoods; small groups of kids taught under either a parent or paid teacher or tutor.  This allows families to pool their resources and share the costs of a more personalized education.  Companies from Manhattan to San Francisco have popped up to facilitate the matching of families with tutors and teachers; a similar model that already exists with nanny agencies. This model has raised concerns over equity – how do children in families with limited resources and means ensure they still receive a quality education?

Right now, parents are figuring all this out on their own.  Policymakers could help. 

Expanded Empowerment Scholarship Accounts

Arizona already has a vehicle set up for “backpack funding,” a finance system for education that follows the student no matter what educational option they choose.  Currently Empowerment Scholarship Accounts are only open to certain qualifying students – such as for children with disabilities, in the bounds of schools rated a ‘D’ or ‘F’, children of military persons or tribal children. 

The legislature should expand this program for the COVID-19 pandemic.  Doing so would allow all families struggling with the difficult educational choices right now to access needed funds to tailor an education best for their child in this chaotic environment.  This could be done at a fraction of the cost of traditional district school funding.   

These models are the tip of the iceberg.  As families, educators and policymakers navigate what education looks like during the current pandemic; this is an even greater opportunity to explore how to revamp archaic school finance systems, outdated education models, and make parents expert consumers of educational options.