Arizona Supreme Court Kicks Invest in Ed Initiative Off November Ballot

Rebecca Garelli, one of the #RedForEd leaders, poses with boxes of signatures for the "Invest in Education Act."EXPAND
Rebecca Garelli, one of the #RedForEd leaders, poses with boxes of signatures for the "Invest in Education Act."
Joseph Flaherty
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The Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled against an initiative that would raise income taxes to fund schools, knocking it off the November ballot because of the measure's imprecise wording.

A 100-word description of the Invest in Ed initiative omitted any mention of a potential change to inflation-adjusted tax brackets, the court said in a brief ruling. That combined with the initiative's description of the tax increase, which opponents said was inaccurate, was enough to remove it from the ballot, a majority of the court ruled.

Collectively, these problems create "a significant danger of confusion or unfairness," the court said, citing a 2013 decision.

The Invest in Ed ballot measure described a marginal tax increase on two brackets of high-income Arizonans. Individuals earning more than $250,000 and households earning more than $500,000 would see their taxes go up to 8 percent; individuals making more than $500,000 and households making more than $1 million would get taxed at a rate of 9 percent.

Invest in Ed proponents described the tax hikes as a rate increase of 3.46 and 4.46 percent, respectively. Opponents said that the ballot measure's description was wrong because the tax isn't being increased by those percentages — rather, those numbers are added to the existing 4.54 percent rate that people in those tax brackets pay. That means the tax rate would be increased by 76 and 98 percent.

A full-length opinion has yet to be released.

Plaintiffs with a committee backed by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce to fight the Invest in Ed measure sued to remove the initiative from the November ballot after organizers with the #RedForEd movement submitted more than 270,000 signatures to the Secretary of State in July.

The decision on Wednesday reverses a Maricopa County Superior Court ruling where a judge found in favor of the Invest in Ed measure.

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