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Arizona’s soak-the-rich-for-schools measure gets expelled from ballot

Author: Mark Harden - August 30, 2018 - Updated: August 30, 2018

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A proposal to boost taxes on high-income Arizonans to fund schools has been kicked off the state ballot.

The measure bears some similarity to a proposal that will appear on Colorado’s ballot in November.

Arizona Proposition 207, branded by backers as “Invest in Education,” would have generated an estimated $690 million for public schools by raising income-tax rates by 3.46 percentage points for individuals earning more that $250,000 a year or households with income north of $500,000. Taxes would have gone up 4.46 percentage points for $500,000-plus earners.

The Arizona Republic of Phoenix reports that the state Supreme Court, upholding a lower-court ruling, has ordered Prop 207 off the statewide November ballot.

The justices agreed with opponents to the proposition that the description of the measure on petitions “did not accurately represent the increased tax burden of the affected classes of taxpayers.”

Challengers had complained that the proposed tax increase was falsely described as a “percent” increase rather than a much larger “percentage point” increase. They said income taxes actually would go up by 76 percent to 98 percent for affected wealthy taxpayers.

The state teachers union and various progressive groups had backed Prop 207, saying that public-school funding in Arizona has declined by more than $1 billion since the recession; the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and a group called Arizonans for Great Schools and a Strong Economy opposed it.

Other Arizona leaders have called for a sales tax hike to boost school funding.

In Colorado, Amendment 73, a proposed constitutional amendment on the fall ballot, also would boost income taxes on the wealthy to raise $1.6 billion for public schools.

Dubbed “Great Schools, Thriving Communities,” the measure would impose a tax surcharge on earners of more than $150,000 a year, ranging from 0.37 percent to 3.62 percent depending on income.

The Colorado measure was certified for the ballot on Aug. 9.

Mark Harden

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.