Arizona School Bond Referendums Aren't Created Equal

Published: Monday, October 19, 2015 - 6:23pm
Updated: Friday, October 23, 2015 - 12:18pm
(Photo by Jon Hoban - KJZZ)
A sign directs voters to a polling location.

Ballots are beginning to arrive in mailboxes throughout Arizona for next month’s election.

Arizonans collectively will vote on more than $1 billion in school district bonds statewide with over $800 million in Maricopa County alone.

Sean McCarthy of the Arizona Tax Research Association called the bond election process inequitable in the state. He cited examples of two districts with bond initiatives on the ballot in November.

“Paradise Valley and Dysart. Those two different school districts have roughly the same amount of students," McCarthy said. "But Paradise Valley’s debt capacity is 265 percent larger because of the high taxable property value within Paradise Valley School District."

By comparison, the Paradise Valley Unfied District is asking voters to approve $227 million in bonds, while the Dysart Unified District is only asking for only $18 million from its residents.

McCarthy said the state constitution demands that education funding be uniform for all school districts.

“You’ve got a real equity problem. We believe there are constitutional issues there.”