September 2018, Week 1


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 		 [ Supporters of the measure expressed outrage over the court’s
decision as news spread on social media late Wednesday afternoon.]



 Ricardo Cano 
 August 29, 2018

	* [https://portside.org/node/18051/printable/print]

 _ Supporters of the measure expressed outrage over the court’s
decision as news spread on social media late Wednesday afternoon. _ 

 The school-funding measure is off the ballot., The Republic 


An Arizona Supreme Court ruling Wednesday knocked the Invest in
Education income-tax measure off the November ballot.

According to the ruling, the measure's description "did not accurately
represent the increased tax burden on the affected classes of

The measure, recently titled Proposition 207, was expected to bring in
$690 million in additional funding for Arizona public district and
charter schools.

Supporters had framed Prop. 207 as a way to fully restore the more
than $1 billion in cuts to education funding since the recession.

Prop. 207 would have raised income-tax rates by 3.46 percentage
points to 8 percent on individuals who earn more than $250,000 or
households that earn more than $500,000. It also would have raised
individual rates by 4.46 percentage points to 9 percent for
individuals who earn more than $500,000 and households that earn more
than $1 million.

Currently, both incomes are taxed at the highest state bracket of 4.54
percent. So, under Arizona's graduated tax, an individual who makes
$750,000 now pays about $33,000 in state income taxes. Under the
#InvestInEd proposal, the individual would have paid about $53,000.

The complaint alleged the petitions were misleading because they
referred to the proposed tax-rate increase as a "percent" increase and
not the more accurate "percentage point" increase. According to the
complaint, the tax rate would have seen a 76 and 98 percent increase
and not a 3.46 and 4.46 percent increase.

Raising the stakes in November

Supporters of the measure expressed outrage over the court’s
decision as news spread on social media late Wednesday afternoon.
Many — including educators responding on the Arizona Educators
United Facebook page that advanced the #RedForEd teacher-activism
movement — said the decision upped the stakes of the November

Education had already been among the most significant issues driving
this election. Much of what has fueled the issue for voters came from
a sentiment that state leaders have not done enough to address the
decade-long funding cuts to public education.

Prop. 207 had the backing of progressive groups — including the
Arizona Education Association, the state’s teachers’ union — and
many education advocates, but it also produced polarizing discussions
over how it proposed to restore education funding.

Jaime Molera, chair of Arizonans for Great Schools and a Strong
Economy, celebrated the ballot measure's disqualification, calling the
measure "fatally flawed."

Molera and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce had challenged the measure
in court.

“Not only was the initiative poorly crafted, it was the wrong plan.
It would have harmed all taxpayers, small businesses, and would not
have delivered on its promises for teachers, while weakening education
reforms that were achieved in a bipartisan fashion under Proposition
301," Molera said in a statement.

Opponents of the measure have alleged the proposed income-tax hike
would have been catastrophic for Arizona's economy and small-business
owners. Opponents did not offer alternative funding proposals, though
they generally supported Gov. Doug Ducey's #20by2020 plan to raise
teacher wages.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Ducey and other state business
leaders have largely ignored a proposal by former PetSmart CEO Phil
Francis and several others to raise the sales tax
a cent to bring in more money for education. 

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas' suggestion to
raise the sales tax has also been ignored.

'Completely unprecedented'

The Prop. 207 campaign gathered 270,000 signatures within 10 weeks to
secure the measure on the ballot after it was first introduced during
the #RedForEd teacher walkout.

Thousands of volunteers — many of them spurred on by the #RedForEd
teacher-activism movement that erupted in early March and culminated
in a six-day statewide teacher walkout — mounted a grassroots
effort to help gather the needed signatures.

The measure had stalled as supporters and opponents fought two
separate court battles. Supporters successfully argued one of those
challenges — that a committee of state legislators used biased
wording to describe the measure in publicity pamphlets.

The other, brought forth by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, led to
Wednesday's court ruling.

David Lujan, treasurer for the Prop. 207 campaign, told _The Arizona
Republic _that the measure's disqualification is "completely
unprecedented" and is "reversing the work of thousands of people in
Arizona who collected signatures to put it on the ballot."

Lujan said the measure's removal means that voters will no longer have
the option to decide on a plan to restore those education cuts.

"Now it makes the November election that much more critical," Lujan
said. "Arizona's public schools cannot wait any longer for our
politicians to continue on with no plan to properly fund our schools.

"We need to elect people who care more about investing in education
than passing more tax cuts."

Blaming Ducey

Supporters of Prop. 207 immediately placed blame for the measure's
defeat on Ducey, who is running for re-election.

David Garcia, the Democratic nominee for governor, on Wednesday said
Ducey had “stacked” the state’s highest court, leading it to
shoot down Prop. 207.

Ducey has appointed three of the seven judges who sit on the
court's bench. The governor also signed legislation in 2016 that
expanded the court from five justices to seven.

“The stakes for the race for governor in Arizona just changed
utterly and irrevocably,” Garcia said. “We must elect pro-public
education candidates up and down the ballot to prevent this kind of
corruption in the future. I’m proud to stand with our educators,
parents and kids.”

The Ducey campaign did not immediately comment on Wednesday’s court
ruling. A spokesman for Ducey said Wednesday evening that the governor
was still reviewing the five-paragraph ruling.

Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, and Noah
Karvelis, a teacher who gained local fame and scorn for his role in
organizing the walkout, addressed the ruling in a Facebook live video
on the Arizona Educators United page.

Activity on the private Facebook page had mostly been dormant compared
with the height of the teacher-activism movement. But Wednesday's
video address drew a higher-than-usual audience.

Thomas called the ruling "a dirty, low blow by the governor.”

"Voters have been cheated out of this opportunity," Thomas told
teachers in the group.

He added: "Don’t mourn, organize" and encouraged teachers and
education supporters to wear red on Thursday.

_Republic reporter Maria Polletta contributed to this article._



	* [https://portside.org/node/18051/printable/print]







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