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Statewide Ballot Measures

The General Election on November 3, 2020, will include two statewide ballot measures. Below is a brief description of both Prop 207 and Prop 208 and the potential impact on education in Arizona.

What is an Initiative and Referendum

In politics, the terms initiative and referendum refer to processes that allow citizens to vote directly on particular pieces of legislation.

An initiative process allows citizens to propose or initiate a statute or constitutional amendment. Citizens initiating such legislation are known as the measure’s proponents.

The referendum process allows citizens to refer a statute passed by the legislature to the ballot so that voters can enact or repeal the measure. A “yes” vote allows the law to go into effect, whereas a “no” vote essentially constitutes a citizen veto and prevents the bill from going into effect.

Proposition 207 – Smart and Safe Arizona Act

Expect More Arizona has not taken a position on this ballot measure.

A YES vote supports this ballot initiative to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for persons who are at least 21 years old, enact a tax on marijuana sales, and require the state Department of Health and Human Services to develop rules to regulate marijuana businesses.

A NO vote opposes this ballot initiative, thus keeping the recreational possession and use of marijuana illegal under state law in Arizona.


Proposition 207 would legalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults (age 21 years or older) in Arizona. Individuals would be permitted to grow no more than six marijuana plants in their residences for personal use, as long as the plants are within a lockable enclosed area and beyond public view.

The ballot initiative would make the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) responsible for adopting rules to regulate marijuana, including the licensing of marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and production facilities. DHS would be required to first accept license applications from existing nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries, which would be eligible to hold both nonprofit medical marijuana and for-profit marijuana licenses, and potential marijuana businesses within counties that have one or zero nonprofit dispensaries. Proposition 207 would also adopt a Social Equity Ownership Program (SEOP), which would issue licenses to entities whose owners are “from communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws.”

The ballot initiative would provide local governments with the power to ban marijuana facilities and testing centers and give local control over elements of regulation, zoning and licensing.

Proposition 207 would also allow anyone convicted of certain marijuana-related crimes related to possession, consumption, cultivation, and transportation to petition for the expungement of their criminal record starting on July 12, 2021.


Proposition 207 does not restrict the rights of employers to maintain a drug-and-alcohol-free workplace or affect the ability of employers to have workplace policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees or prospective employees. The initiative does not require an employer to allow or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, sale or cultivation of marijuana in a place of employment.

Driving, flying or boating while impaired by marijuana, even to the slightest degree, will still not be allowed. As such, Proposition 207 does not prevent the state from enacting and imposing penalties for driving, flying or boating while impaired by marijuana.

Individuals under 21 years of age will still not be allowed to purchase, possess, transport or consume marijuana or marijuana products. The sale, transfer or provision of marijuana or marijuana products to an individual under age 21 is prohibited.

Proposition 207 does not allow any person to smoke marijuana in a public place or open space. Marijuana or marijuana products may not be consumed while driving, operating OR riding in the passenger seat or compartment of an operating motor vehicle, boat, vessel, aircraft or another vehicle used for transportation.


Proposition 207 would place a 16 percent tax on marijuana sales, in addition to the existing transaction privilege tax and use tax.

The initiative calls for the creation of The Smart and Safe Arizona Fund, which is to be administered by the Arizona State Treasurer. Funds will be distributed as follows:

  1. 33 percent to community college districts and provisional community college districts in Arizona for the purpose of providing workforce development programs, job training, career and technical education, and STEM program.
    • 15 percent of the 33 percent divided equally between each community college district
    • 5 percent of the 33 percent divided equally between each provisional community college district
    • The remainder to community college districts and provisional community college districts in proportion to each college’s full-time student enrollment percentage (based on preceding year’s enrollment)
  2. 4 percent to municipal police departments, municipal fire departments, fire districts and county sheriff’s departments for personnel costs.
  3. 24.5 percent to the Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund. Learn more about this fund here.
  4. 10 percent to a new Justice Reinvestment Fund, which will be distributed to DHS to address public health issues, and to county public health departments and nonprofits to provide justice reinvestment programs focused on:
    • Public and behavior health including substance use prevention and treatment and substance use early intervention services);
    • Restorative justice, jail diversion, workforce development, industry-specific technical assistance or mentoring services for economically disadvantaged persons in communities disproportionately impacted by high arrest and incarceration rates;
    • Addressing underlying causes of crimes, reducing drug-related arrests and reducing the state’s prison population; and
    • Creating or developing programs and technology to assist with the restoration of civil rights and expunging criminal record
  5. Funding for the Department of Health Services, Department of Revenue, Arizona Supreme Court, Department of Public Safety, and the State Treasurer to cover actual costs of carrying out and enforcing the rules related to the initiative, as well as collecting and distributing the revenue.


Find complete initiative language here.

YES on Prop 207 campaign website.

NO on Prop 207 campaign website.

Proposition 208 – Invest in Education Act

Read Expect More Arizona’s statement of support for Prop 208 here.


Proposition 208, also called the Invest in Education Act, proposes a new 3.5 percent income tax surcharge on Arizona taxpayers whose income is beyond a certain amount.

  • Over $250,000 for individuals filing as a single person or for married persons filing separately
  • Over $500,000 for a married couple filing joining or a single person filing as head of household.

If passed by the voters, the proposed surcharge would go into effect January 1, 2021 and would be in addition to existing income taxes imposed on taxable individual income at these income levels (currently 4.5 percent).


Proposition 208 explicitly states that allocations to school districts, charter schools and career technical education districts from these funds are in addition to any other appropriation or allocation of public or private monies, and may not replace, reduce or supplant other funding sources.

The new revenue generated by the proposed income tax surcharge in Proposition 208 would be placed in a newly created Student Support and Safety Fund. In addition to paying the costs of implementing, administering, and enforcing the new law, monies would be allocated as follows:

Increase Pay for Teachers and Classroom Support Personnel

  • Fifty percent (50%) for grants to support hiring and increasing the base compensation for teachers and classroom support personnel.
    • Grants would be proportionally distributed, based on student count, to school districts, charter schools, the state education system for committed youth, and the state schools for the deaf and blind.
    • Proposition 208 defines “teachers” as any nonadministrative personnel who instruct students or support student academic achievement as determined by the school district or charter school governing body, including classroom teachers, early childhood teachers, mentor teachers, instructional coaches, and academic interventionists.
    • Proposition 208 defines “classroom support personnel” as any nonadministrative personnel, including certified personnel, who provide classroom support and instructional support services as determined by the school district or charter school governing body, including librarians, nurses, counselors, social workers, speech pathologists, behavioral coaches and psychologists.

Increase Pay for Student Support Services Personnel

  • Twenty-five percent (25%) for grants to support hiring and increasing the base compensation for student support services personnel.
    • Grants would be proportionally distributed, based on student count, school districts, charter schools, the state education system for committed youth, and the state schools for the deaf and blind.
    • Proposition 208 defines “student support services personnel” as any classified, nonadministrative personnel who provide student support services as determined by the school district or charter school governing body, including classroom aides, media specialists, health assistants, security personnel, student food service personnel, clerical staff, student transportation personnel, and school site plant operators.

Mentoring and Teacher Retention Programs

  • Ten percent (10%) for grants to support mentoring and retaining new classroom teachers during their first three years of teaching.
    • Grants would be proportionally distributed, based on student count, school districts, charter schools, the state education system for committed youth, and the state schools for the deaf and blind.
    • The State Board of Education would prescribe the format of the program, and each mentor in this program cannot be assigned more than 15 mentees.
    • If a school district or charter school receives more mentoring funds than are needed, they would be permitted to use the excess funds for teacher retention.

New Career Training and Workforce Fund

  • Twelve percent (12%) to a newly created Career Training and Workforce Fund. After being used to pay the costs of general implementation and administration, these monies would be used by the Department of Education to award multiyear grants and to provide ongoing support to awardees. School districts, charter schools, and career technical education districts would be eligible to apply for the grants. The grants, up to five years long, would be used to:
    1. develop and expand career and technical education (CTE) programs tied to medium to high wage, high demand careers that result in direct work experience, industry certification, or postsecondary credits;
    2. develop and expand programs that inspire and prepare students to become classroom teachers;
    3. hire school counselors;
    4. develop and implement academic acceleration programs that use objective measures to enroll students who have reached proficiency into the next, more rigorous course in that content area;
    5. expand college level educational opportunities, through mechanisms like Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), dual credit courses, co-enrollment courses, or developing staff to provide college level educational opportunities for high school students;
    6. assist students to complete 9th grade with sufficient credits to graduate on time, including expanded counseling services, programs to combat chronic absenteeism, mentoring and tutoring programs, real time student data to teachers and support staff, and additional time for teachers and support staff to meet during the school day to develop strategies and interventions to support at risk students;
    7. expand tutoring, mentoring, counseling, mental health and wrap-around services for high school students;
    8. provide funds to support schools whose 9th grade students complete a 4-year CTE program.

Arizona Teachers Academy – Teacher Recruitment

  • Three percent (3%) to the existing Arizona Teachers Academy Fund, which is currently used to pay for scholarships for undergraduate, graduate, and postbaccalaureate students; to support current teachers seeking National Board Certification; to provide induction services for academy graduates; and to implement a marketing and promotion plan to recruit and retain students in the Arizona Teachers Academy.
    • Proposition 208 would amend the statutes governing the Arizona Teachers Academy, modifying the cap on scholarship amounts and allowing eligible participants to receive up to the actual cost of tuition and fees for their program, up to the actual cost of obtaining National Board Certification and renewal, and up to the actual cost of obtaining a teaching certificate and any associated exam.
    • Proposition 208 would require that the academy’s recruitment and retention efforts have a particular emphasis on ensuring participants reflect the diversity of the state’s student population.


It is estimated that just 1 percent of Arizona taxpayers fall into the impacted income brackets. Groups supporting the ballot measure have estimated the tax will generate more than $900 million in new revenue annually. Opponents argue these revenue estimates are not guaranteed, citing that business profits and capital gains are the most volatile of all major tax categories, and arguing that this new tax surcharge will drive high income earners and businesses away from Arizona.


While there are no new accountability measures built into the Proposition 208 proposal, the funding is subject to the numerous education accountability systems already in place in Arizona, including:

  • A-F school letter grades
  • Teacher evaluations
  • Results-based funding
  • State and federal reporting requirements
  • Annual auditor general’s report on school spending
  • Others (School choice, Arizona Education Progress Meter, etc.)


A “YES” vote would impose a 3.5% income tax surcharge on taxable income exceeding $250,000 for single persons or spouses filing separately, and on income exceeding $500,000 for heads of households or joint filings. Tax revenue from this surcharge would go toward the purposes of providing funds for public education; establishing a new fund to focus the revenue on hiring and increasing salaries for teachers and non-administrative support employees; career training and higher education pathway programs for high school students and the Arizona Teachers Academy; and increasing the dollar amount of scholarships available through the Arizona Teachers Academy.

A “NO” vote would retain the current law on income tax, which imposes a 4.50% tax on income over $159,000 for single filers, and on income over $318,000 for joint filers.

Find complete initiative language here.