Pro-tax campaign relies heavily on out-of-state dollars, few in-state donors

Of the $21,601,892.48 contributed towards the “Invest In Education” Political Action Committee, the group backing Proposition 208, only .7 percent of all contributions – just $151,411.44 – came from individual Arizona donors. 

The pro-Proposition 208’s third quarter and pre-general election campaign finance reports reveal that nearly all of the group’s funding continues to come from wealthy donors, unions and special interest groups – all from out-of-state.

President Donald Trump, Gov. Doug Ducey, the editorial boards of the Wall Street Journal and Arizona Republic, as well as leaders in the Arizona business community have urged Arizonans to reject the 77.7% income tax hike, citing the initiative’s anticipated loss of 10,000 to more than 124,000 jobs, loss of revenue, and lack of accountability.

If Arizonans aren’t funding Proposition 208, who is?

National Education Association

The Washington, D.C.-based National Education Association – the largest union in the country – contributed $6,000,000 in September and an additional $1,750,000 in October, for a total of $7,750,000.

The National Education Association’s Arizona affiliate, the Arizona Education Association, has donated a total of $1,147,291.09,

In total, 41 percent of all funding – nearly $9,000,000 – in favor of Proposition 208 has come from the teachers union and its affiliated groups. 

The union reports roughly $370,000,000 in revenue each year.

Stand For Children

Portland, Ore.-based Stand For Children, which had previously contributed $4,081,574 has contributed another $5,153,627.78.

In total, $9,235,202 – 42.75 percent – of pro-Proposition 208 contributions have come from Stand For Children. 

United Food and Commercial Workers

United Food and Commercial Workers, a union with more than 1,000,000 members across the country, donated $50,000 on Sept. 23. 

Most UFCW workers work for large corporations that will be taxed at the 4.9% corporate tax, while many small businesses will be taxed at a rate more than 60 percent higher, at 8% if the initiative passes

Open Society Foundation

The Open Society Foundation, based in Manhattan, donated $500,000 on Oct. 14 in favor of Proposition 208 via its Open Society Policy Center. The Open Society Foundation reported $376 million of revenue in 2018, according to its most recent Form 990 filing.

Children’s Action Alliance

The Children’s Action Alliance donated $80,000 on Feb. 11 and an additional $5,000 on June 2. 

Movement Voter Project

The Movement Voter Project, based in Massachusetts, contributed $50,000 on Oct. 9. The group describes itself as seeking to build “long term progressive power.” 

The group operates a fund, dubbed the “Big 5 Battleground Fund,” specifically supporting campaigns in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona.

League Of Conservation Voters Education Fund

The League of Conservation Voters, a Washington, D.C.-based group which recently endorsed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and her Green New Deal, donated $75,000 on Oct. 14. 

Garcia for Governor

The campaign committee for David Garcia, the 2018 Democratic nominee for Arizona governor, donated $24,888 of “surplus cash” to the group on Oct. 9. 

Garcia, who ran as a progressive candidate, lost to Gov. Doug Ducey by a 14 percent margin.

Wealthy out-of-state donors

Two out-of-state billionaires from Oklahoma and California have contributed $2.5 million to the campaign.

Stacy Schusterman of Tulsa, Okla. donated $2,000,000 on Sept. 4. 

Schusterman is an oil and gas executive whose family sold Samson Investments for $7.2 billion in 2011.

Arthur Rock, of San Francisco, Calif., donated $500,000 on Sept. 23. 

Rock, who was worth $1.1 billion in 2008, is a successful Silicon-valley venture capitalist. He is president of The BASIC Fund, which according to philanthropynewsdigest.org, helps low income families “afford the cost of tuition at private schools in the Bay Area.”

Rock has also been a major contributor to KIPP, a large national charter school network, and Schusterman serves on the board of the Charter School Growth Fund. 

The pro-Proposition 208 campaign coalition includes Save Our Schools, a group hostile to school choice. 

Arjun Rondla

Arjun Rondla is an undergraduate studying political science at Arizona State University and an intern at Chamber Business News.

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