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Voter-approved Arizona education tax dead after court ruling


Arizona's education tax on the wealthy to boost education spending that voters approved in November 2020 has been permanently blocked by the courts. Friday's ruling from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah was widely expected after the Supreme Court ruled in August that the tax was unconstitutional if it put schools above a legal spending cap. Proposition 208 would have taxed wealthy Arizonans making more than $250,000 a year and was expected to raise nearly $830 million for K-12 schools.

"This ruling is a win for Arizona taxpayers. It's another step in undoing the damage of Prop 208 and making sure we continue to benefit from having the lowest flat income tax rate in the nation." Gov. Doug Ducey said. While we expect the ruling may be appealed, we are confident the Arizona Supreme Court will find 208 unconstitutional, as they did last year. Arizona is – and will remain – a state that knows how to prioritize education while keeping taxes low and attracting jobs."

Normally, an appeal would be expected. But Joe Thomas, the president of the Arizona Education Association, said the problem is that they would be headed right back to the state Supreme Court. "The difficulty is that if you appeal, you appeal to the Supreme Court that set off of this in motion and that's really the difficulty that we all have to understand and that's not just the Arizona Education Association or other coalition partners part of invest in education but it's what everyone has to weigh in," said Thomas. Thomas is referring to the fact that Ducey campaigned against Prop. 208 two years ago.

Republicans in the state Legislature applied the court's ruling. A statement from the Arizona state Senate called it a "major victory for Arizona taxpayers." Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican from Prescott, also chimed in, saying that "out-of-state special interests" tried to deceive voters. "We are thrilled that this job-killing tax hike won't go into effect. Now the state's leaders can pursue important education funding while we craft next year's budget," Fann said.

Meantime, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman voiced her disapproval for the ruling. She said on Twitter that while "some may celebrate the court's decision to overturn," that the "voter's intent" remains the same. She asked Gov. Ducey and the state Legislature to act on education funding.

The Arizona Education Association was one of #InvestInEd's biggest supporters. One major challenge in the lawsuit was a state law that limits the amount of money the state can spend on education. Prop 208 listed the potential revenue as grants so it wouldn't count against that spending cap. Danny Seiden, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry -- which opposed Prop 208 previously said that wording only hurt the initiative.

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Guidance for Taxpayers Following Prop 208 Ruling
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