Several Arizona school officials on Thursday threw their support behind Prop. 205, highlighting the much-needed revenue that will be raised for K-12 education if voters approve the initiative to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol.
The Yes on 205 campaign received endorsements from Arizona School Boards Association Immediate Past President Jesus Rubalcava, who currently serves as president of the Gila Bend Unified School District Governing Board; Sunnyside Unified School District Governing Board President Buck Crouch and Board Member Daniel Hernandez; Tolleson Union High School District Governing Board Vice President Devin Del Palacio; Tucson Unified School District Governing Board Member Kristel Ann Foster; Balsz School District Governing Board Member Channel Powe; and State Sen. Martin Quezada, who is a member of the Pendergast Elementary School District Governing Board.Some of the officials are pointing to the success of a similar ballot measure that was approved by voters in Colorado in 2012, which is generating more annual revenue for the state than predicted and fulfilling the promise of raising $40 million per year for public school construction. Colorado’s regulated marijuana system brought in more than $135 million in calendar year 2015, and according to the Denver Post, it has produced nearly $106 million in revenue in just the first seven months of 2016.
Prop. 205 would generate more than $123 million in annual revenue for Arizona, including more than $55 million per year for the state’s school districts, according to a July analysis by the Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee. Half of those school funds will be used for teacher compensation, construction, and maintenance, and the other half will be used to support full-day kindergarten programs.
State officials sparked complaints from initiative proponents last month when they drafted ballot language for Prop. 205 that fails to mention tax revenue will be used to fund education.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol launched a statewide digital ad campaign this week to highlight the school funding component of Prop. 205. One ad —which can be viewed below — features a Mesa teacher, a Mesa mother of a special needs child, and a Gilbert grandmother, and it notes that “Raising money for schools isn’t the only reason to regulate and tax marijuana, but it’s a good reason.”School officials supporting Prop. 205 also highlighted a report released in June by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that concluded the rate of teen marijuana use in the state has remained steady since marijuana became legal for adults. The report also found that rates of current and lifetime marijuana use among Colorado teens are consistent with national averages.
“With our state ranked near the bottom in education funding, we can use all the help we can get,” said Jesus Rubalcava, president of the Gila Bend Unified School District Governing Board and immediate past president of the Arizona School Boards Association. “I therefore appreciate that the drafters of Proposition 205 directed such a significant share of the expected tax revenues toward education.
“As we enjoy the overall benefits of ending prohibition, it is great to know that there will be specific benefits, like expanded full-day kindergarten, for Arizona students,” Rubalcava said.“It is no secret that Arizona schools can use additional funding, and Proposition 205 would make a significant contribution toward that need,” said Buck Crouch, president of the Sunnyside Unified School District Governing Board. “The projected estimate of $55 million for K-12 education annually would be very beneficial for schools, teachers, and students. But I am not supporting Proposition 205 because of the funding for education alone.
“I also believe that marijuana prohibition has made our state less safe, along the border and elsewhere,” Crouch said.“We need to end illegal sales of marijuana and have sales occur in tightly regulated — and taxpaying — businesses.”
“Teen use in Colorado has not gone up since legalization,” said Devin Del Palacio, vice president of the Tolleson Union High School District Governing Board.“The Colorado initiative promised $40 million for schools, and that’s exactly what they got.
“Ending marijuana prohibition in Arizona makes sense,” Del Palacio said. “Let’s take money away from the cartels and put it into classrooms.”