Last November, Dysart Unified School District’s override was rejected by voters with 57% voting “no.”
The override funding currently in place from the 2015 Override election is still in place at 100% through the 2020-2021 school year. That funding will begin to phase out over the next two years — by one-third in the sixth year and two-thirds in the seventh year.
Dysart is being a bit disingenuous when they refer to it as an “Override Continuation Election.” Overrides are not in perpetuity, although one might get that impression from the way the district has chosen to position it — a 15% override has been in place since 2000. The override will be presented on the ballot as “budget increase, yes” and “budget increase, no.” Dysart is saying that voting for the override will not result in a tax increase. In fact, you will pay more in property taxes if the override is passed.
In 2018, the governor signed into law a new Arizona education budget providing more than $4.5 billion for K-12 education. The plan gave Arizona teachers a 20% pay raise over three years and included an increase for support staff, textbooks, technology and infrastructure. This was in response to the #RedForEd teacher walkout.
Also on the November ballot will be Proposition 208, “Invest in Education Act.” This an income tax surcharge on high-income earners. Few voters will earn enough to trigger the 3.2% surcharge. However, passage will generate an estimated $1 billion annually for K-12 education. Dysart will get a share. This would be in addition to the millions the 15% override would generate in the 2021-2022 school year.
Shortly, you will be receiving an informational pamphlet on the proposed 15% override. The arguments in favor of the override will be the same clichés you have heard in the past. As you would expect, The Fire Fighters Association, Surprise Police Employees Association and president of the Dysart Education Association have come out in support of the override without regard to the increase in property owners’ tax bills.
The request for an override comes at a time when families are strapped for cash and some household are looking for work in the time of COVID-19 shutdowns, bankruptcies and economic uncertainty. Already a number of property owners are delinquent in paying their property taxes.
A bond request is not on this year’s ballot. However, a request to fund a $100-plus million bond will almost certainly be on the ballot in 2021.
When are more dollars not enough?