Tax hike initiative to make ballot, Supreme Court rules

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that the “Invest in Ed” ballot initiative will appear on the November ballot. 

The initiative was initially removed from the ballot in July by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge who ruled that the proposition contained a “misleading” 100-word petition summary. The state Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s ruling in Molera v. Hobbs on Wednesday.

“A written opinion will follow,” said Chief Justice Brutinel, delivering the court’s order to reinstate the proposition on the general election ballot.

Opposition swells

Amber Gould, chairwoman of the Invest in Education campaign, said, “Today’s ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court keeping Invest in Education on the November ballot is an important victory because it gives millions of Arizona voters the opportunity to put more resources in our schools.”

Arizonans for Great Schools and a Strong Economy, led by former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jaime Molera, has opposed the measure from the beginning. 

Following the ruling on Wednesday, Molera said, “Today’s decision is a disappointment. Between now and Election Day we look forward to sharing with voters how damaging this 77.7% income tax increase on small business will be to Arizona’s economy and how it will fall far short of what proponents’ have promised the state’s teachers.”

The opposition group led by Molera has pledged to appeal the decision again, this time “in the court of public opinion.”

Arizona could become one of highest tax states in nation

If passed by voters in November, the initiative would raise Arizona’s top income tax rate by 77.77%. This raise would vault Arizona among the top-10 highest income tax brackets in the nation, between Wisconsin and New York.

It would also result in Arizona having the highest income tax bracket among its neighbor states Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado. California beats out Arizona, however. Nevada does not have a state individual income tax.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey opposes the initiative, writing in an argument submitted for the publicity pamphlet that is sent to voters before the election that the structure of the initiative would force small business owners to pay “a whopping amount, especially considering that our economy is recovering from recession and high unemployment.”

Joe Pitts

Joe Pitts is a student at Arizona State University and the program director for Business Ballot; executive director for the Arizona Junior Fellows program. You can reach him at [email protected]

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