States’ Trickle-Down Tax Cuts Shortchange Schools, Prompt Protests

Inspired by West Virginia teachers’ successful strike, educators around the country are taking a stand for the raises, resources, and respect that they need. These teachers—and the communities they serve—are coping with the consequences of trickle-down tax cuts that are shortchanging their schools and students.

Statewide Actions. In Arizona, teachers held a statewide day of action on Wednesday, March 28, including a late-afternoon rally at the state capitol in Phoenix, to protest low teacher pay and school funding.

  • In Oklahoma, in response to educators’ protests, the state House of Representatives approved a $447 million tax increase to fund pay raises for teachers, school support staff, and state employees.
  • The measure—which now needs the state Senate’s approval—provides first-year teachers with a $5,000 pay raise, along with future increases based on experience.

Irresponsible Tax Cuts Shortchange Schools and Students. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports, the protests in Arizona and Oklahoma were prompted by “excessive state tax cuts that have shrunk state revenues and thereby made it harder to devote adequate resources to education.”

  • Arizona’s schools are the nation’s second-worst-funded schools, and Oklahoma’s are the fifth-least adequately funded.
  • Both states passed huge tax cuts before the Great Recession that tilted toward big business and the rich. And then they cut taxes even more.
  • Arizona cut corporate taxes by 30 percent in 2011 and also reduced taxes on capital gains.
  • In 2004, Oklahoma cut the top income tax rate, with the last reduction taking effect in 2016, in spite of a $1 billion state revenue shortfall. The energy-rich state also substantially cut its taxes on oil and gas companies.