Invest In Ed returned to November ballot by Arizona Supreme Court
PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court returned Wednesday the Invest In Education initiative to the November ballot, overturning an earlier ruling from a lower court.
The court ruled that the 100-word description for the initiative “did not create a significant danger of confusion or unfairness.”
A July 31 ruling from a Maricopa County Supreme Court judge said the description was inaccurate.
The decision requires the initiative to be placed in the general election publicity pamphlet and on the general election ballot.
“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 into our schools,” Amber Gould, chairwoman of the Invest in Education campaign, said in a statement.
The group that initially filed the lawsuit against the initiative alleged that backers misled the nearly 436,000 voters who signed petitions to qualify the measure for the ballot and that petition circulators were paid per signature.
The proposed initiative — backed by many educators and the state teachers union — would impose a 3.5% tax surcharge on income above $250,000 for an individual or above $500,000 for couples. It aims to raise about $940 million a year for schools.
“Today’s decision is a disappointment,” Jaime Molera, the leader of the campaign against the initiative, said in a statement.
“We believe the Superior Court decision that the proponents deceived voters with a flawed and misleading 100-word petition summary and that they engaged in an illegal bonus payment scheme in their signature gathering process was correct and should have been upheld.”
The initiative is the latest outgrowth from a teachers strike two years ago that highlighted low wages for educators and a slow rebound from budget cuts enacted during the Great Recession.
The walkout secured higher wages for teachers, but many education interest groups said it fell short.