Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Hannah ruled today that the Invest in Ed Act, which would have added a tax levy on high-earning Arizonans to fund public K-12 education, cannot be enforced due to a state Supreme Court ruling that the funds raised from Prop. 208 would have put schools above the aggregate expenditure limit and permanently blocked the collection of the tax levy.
Awaiting Judge Hannah’s ruling in this case had been a key issue that delayed Arizona Legislators from raising the aggregate expenditure limit until late last month – just days away from a March 1, 2022 deadlines, which would have forced Arizona public schools to cut 16% of their budget to comply with the Arizona State Constitution in the final months of the school year.
Prop 208 is dead: A judge has declared that a tax on high-earning Arizonans designed to boost education spending can’t be enforced because of a state Supreme Court ruling and ordered its collection permanently blocked.— Bob Christie (@APChristie) March 11, 2022
Prop. 208 would have enacted a 3.5% surcharge on the existing 4.5% income tax on taxable annual income above $250,000 per individual and $500,000 per couple and distribute the revenue to support public K-12 education.
We are incredibly disappointed with this decision, which violates the will of AZ voters & withholds desperately needed funds from our classrooms & students. 1/3https://t.co/lGrj1KSeGn— Save Our Schools AZ (@arizona_sos) March 11, 2022
Prop. 208 would have brought about $800 million into public schools, according to Rebecca Gau, executive director of Stand for Children Arizona. That revenue would benefit public education and help support teachers and classrooms in Arizona, which is ranked 49th in the nation for state education funding, according to a study done by WalletHub.
Thank you to everyone who supported & worked for #Prop208. The battle is far from over, and we will win because **AZ voters want fully-funded schools**— Beth Lewis 🆘 🏜🎓 (@AZBethLewis) March 11, 2022
We will elect pro-public education candidates up & down the ballot on Nov. 8th. From Governor, to #AZLeg, to school boards. https://t.co/lhDc5pTmCJ
In January this year, Prop. 208 supporters and Republican opponents of the bill had agreed that funds generated from the Invest in Education Act would have exceeded the aggregate expenditure limit.
A judge on Friday declared that a tax on high-earning Arizona residents to fund education spending that voters approved in 2020 can't be enforced because of a state Supreme Court ruling and ordered its collection permanently blocked.https://t.co/eyV2BhaZhs— KJZZ Phoenix (@kjzzphoenix) March 11, 2022
“This Court understands the remand order as a direction to declare Proposition 208 unconstitutional in its entirety, and to enjoin its operation permanently, if the Court finds as a fact that the annual education spending limits imposed by the Arizona Constitution will prevent Arizona’s public schools from spending a “material” amount of Proposition 208 tax revenue in 2023. On that basis, the Court is obligated to strike down Proposition 208. This order explains that decision. It also raises an issue that the Court respectfully suggests the higher courts may wish to consider if this case comes before them again on appeal,” Judge Hannah wrote in his ruling.
Judge Hannah’s ruling noted that the remand order from the Supreme Court said that the Superior Court “must declare Prop. 208 unconstitutional and enjoin its operation” if the measure “will result in the accumulation of money that cannot be spent without violating the expenditure limit.”
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. 2/2— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) March 11, 2022
Invest In Education – the Prop208 surcharge on income over a million dollars in a year–— Rep. Mitzi Epstein (@MitziEpstein) March 11, 2022
would have been a step toward more fairness,
And it would have funded K12 schools.
The ruling that killed it makes today a sad day for students and for equity. #PeopleFirstEconomy
Judge Hannah’s ruling means that education advocates seeking to find a sustainable revenue stream for public education will need to develop a different strategy to do so.
Prop 208 update… pic.twitter.com/OstCNeYhzl— AZSenateRepublicans (@AZSenateGOP) March 11, 2022
Response to #Prop208 ruling from Sen @Rios_Rebecca:— Arizona Senate Democrats (@AZSenateDems) March 11, 2022
"To the thousands of volunteers, teachers, students & voters who collected signatures & voted to pass Prop 208, we thank you…We vow to keep fighting to ensure the Legislature does its job of funding our schools." pic.twitter.com/VXxqmmSv76
Judge Hannah also noted in this ruling that “when the people of Arizona enacted Proposition 208, they exercised their co-equal Constitutional authority to implement their desired public education funding and taxation policies. That touched off a policy dispute with (among others) a majority in the Arizona Legislature. The dispute has played out in a series of political events — the Legislature’s enactment of tax law changes that will substantially reduce the amount of revenue generated by Proposition 208, an initiative measure that will ask the voters to repeal some of those changes, proposed tax legislation that would attempt to moot the initiative. There are legal guardrails on this political maneuvering, notably the Voter Protection Act, article IV, part 1, section 1(6) of the Constitution, which prohibits the legislature from simply repealing laws enacted by initiative. Within those guardrails, the political actors have worked their way toward a political resolution of their policy disagreement.”
Judge Hannah also said in his ruling that the main political players are parties in this lawsuit and the courts are responsible for answering their legal question, but “judges must remain wary of political actors who want them to take sides in ongoing political disputes.”
A judge has declared that a tax on high-earning Arizona residents to boost education spending can’t be enforced. https://t.co/rZT44KJZMF— AZPM (@azpublicmedia) March 11, 2022
Update: Flat tax referendum qualifies for 2022 ballot & the latest on Prop. 208
Advocates turn in signatures to put tax cuts that impact education funding on ballot
Judge rejects preliminary injunction & claims in Prop. 208 lawsuit
Court ruling on the Prop. 208 Invest In Ed lawsuit
Judge rejects two claims in Prop. 208 lawsuit
School elections pass rate is lower than in past, but results are mixed
Questions about Prop. 208, school bond, override elections? Find answers here
Court ruling impacts Invest in Ed, Save Our Schools initiatives qualifying for ballot
New Invest in Ed initiative announced for 2020 ballot
Education advocates’ budget priorities for legislative session
Ruling removes Invest in Ed proposition from ballot