The State of Arizona has great reason to celebrate. In a case that the Club joined as a plaintiff, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah ruled against Prop 208, determining that the money raised from the tax would exceed the constitutional spending limit for education. This decision followed the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling last August that Prop 208 was unconstitutional. And now, it officially puts the nail in the coffin of the largest tax hike in Arizona history.
This is great news for taxpayers throughout our state, except if you’re House Democrat Minority Leader Reginald Bolding apparently. But while Prop 208 may be dead, the fight is not quite over yet.
For years, teachers’ unions and out-of-state special interest groups led by the National Education Association (NEA) and Stand for Children have been trying to push this $1 billion tax hike on the backs of Arizona’s small businesses. And they’ve spent over $40 million trying to make that happen. That’s right. Over $40 million with nothing to show for it.
But Red4Ed and the rest of the backers of Prop 208 won’t give up. After the Supreme Court struck down their unconstitutional tax hike, they moved to target the $1.8 billion tax cut that would establish a flat tax and provide a tax cut for all Arizonans. Back in October, Invest in Arizona, a political committee sponsored by the Arizona Education Association and Stand for Children, submitted a referendum to put the historic tax cuts on the ballot for voters to decide its fate. Thankfully, the Invest in Arizona ballot referendum to overturn SB1783, which was passed to give tax relief to small business owners in our state, failed signature review.
And while they want you to believe that the referendum was a “citizen led grassroots effort,” their campaign finance report tells us otherwise. The NEA and Stand for Children dumped in more than $4.5 million to flood the streets with paid circulators to gather signatures for the referendum. (That’s in addition to the $40 million we mentioned earlier). And when they realized that it was tough to get people to sign a referendum that would give them a tax cut, the circulators started lying to voters, telling prospective signers that the referendum would somehow stop K-12 funding cuts.
With Arizona sitting pretty with a $4 billion dollar surplus, it is absurd that these out-of-state special interests would be spending millions to block tax relief for Arizonans. But we also think their referendum is unconstitutional and lacks the requisite number of signatures to qualify for the ballot.
The bills being targeted by Invest in Arizona directly provide for the support and maintenance of our state. And the Arizona Constitution is clear that issues related to the support and maintenance of the state government cannot be referred to the ballot. It was also clear after our signature review of the referendum that over half their signatures were invalid or were gathered fraudulently by the circulator mercenaries that they hired.
That’s why the Club filed a lawsuit against Invest in Arizona’s tax cut referendums. While we’re still waiting for a decision from the Maricopa County Superior Court, there’s a good chance that this will wind up at the Arizona Supreme Court just like Prop 208. And let’s hope they rule the same way.
Arizona is already spending a record amount of money on K-12 education. And the tax cuts Republicans delivered back in July still allowed for hundreds of millions in new funding for K-12 schools and universities. Now, it’s time to ensure that the people of Arizona get what they really need: tax cuts that put more of their hard-earned money back into their pockets.
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