The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday to remove a proposal from the November ballot that, if passed, would have pumped $690 million into Arizona’s public education system by raising taxes on the state’s highest earners.
The court found the proposition’s description of the change in tax rate along with a lack of any discussion of changes in indexing for inflation collectively “creates a significant danger of confusion or unfairness,” justices wrote in the decision.
The development is the latest in the fallout from teacher protests and walkouts in several U.S. states earlier this year that attempted to bring awareness to what they say is the need to spend more money on education.
“Our highest court has joined the entrenched politicians at the capitol in blatantly protecting the elite and the wealthy over the rights of voters and the needs of Arizona’s children,” said Joshua Buckley, Co-Chair of the “Invest in Education” proposal.
Supporter of the measure said new money was desperately needed to reverse years of cutbacks to public schools by Arizona elected officials.
Under the ballot measure, which is supported by the Arizona Education Association, voters would have been asked to approve a tax increase on high-wage earners to provide a dedicated revenue stream for education.
The measure proposed a 3.46 percent tax increase on income of individuals above $250,000 and households above $500,000. A 4.46 percent hike would be imposed on income of individuals over $500,000 and households over than $1 million, if voters approved the measure.
Sixty percent of the new dollars would have gone to teacher salaries and the remainder to be allocated for operations, according to the proposal. Full-day kindergarten and pay raises for support staff also would be funded.
“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,” said Jaime Molera, chairman of Arizonans for Great Schools and a Strong Economy, a group opposed to the measure.
Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Michael Perry