Election Day 2023: Metro Phoenix school races on your ballot
Tuesday's sleepy off-year election has one dramatic side story: heated campaigns for and against local school funding.
Why it matters: Most Valley districts have long counted on voter-approved bonds and overrides to bolster the education funding they receive from the state.
State of play: About two dozen Valley districts are asking voters to approve measures that will increase local school funding — mostly through a bond, override or both.
- A bond allows districts to take on debt to finance large-scale capital projects like building a new school or replacing buses.
- An override allows districts to increase their budget by up to 15% over seven years to pay for maintenance and operations. This money can be used for teacher and staff raises.
How it works: Both bonds and overrides are funded via property tax levies on homeowners within a district.
- Because many districts have had bond and override financing in place for decades, homeowners usually don't see their tax rates go up when these items are approved — it just stays the same.
- That said, if these measures fail and this funding stream ceases, property owners would likely see their tax rates decrease.
Between the lines: Support for school funding has ebbed and flowed in recent years, but typically, districts have been able to garner enough support to pass the measures within a year of their first attempt.
Yes, but: There's been a willful — and possibly coordinated — effort to oppose school ballot initiatives in nearly every district in the Valley this year. Next to almost every "vote yes" sign, you'll find a counter-argument warning against "wasteful spending" and tax increases.
What they're saying: "Like all politics, it's gotten more partisan in school elections over the last few cycles," local political consultant Paul Bentz told Arizona's Family.
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