Public education advocates have filed referendums to repeal a new income tax cut that undermines Proposition 208, the voter-approved voting measure that taxes wealthy Arizonas to pay for public education.
Last November, Arizona voters overwhelmingly approved Prop 208, a measure that levied a 3.5% tax on people earning over $ 250,000 and married couples earning over $ 500,000. Revenues would go to salaries of teachers and support staff, as well as technical education and training programs.
But Republican lawmakers moved quickly to try to undermine the ballot measure. The legislature under republican control approved a budget which rejects Arizona’s progressive income tax system and replaces it with a 2.5 percent flat tax – amounting to a tax cut of $ 1.9 billion, according to the Associated press. The expense package also capped the combined tax rate for high earners subject to the Prop 208 surtax at 4.5%, meaning they would only pay 1% in taxes on top of the school tax. Governor Doug Ducey signed the tax reduction in law Wednesday.
In a statement released after signing the legislation, Ducey said “every taxpayer in Arizona” will see their taxes reduced and “job creators will continue to choose our state to expand their operations.” He also said in a different statement that the tax plan would “protect small businesses” from the “devastating” impacts of Proposition 208.
Proponents of Proposition 208 argue that the new tax system amounts to handouts for the wealthy in Arizona that also cuts funding for public services. They want to abandon the project and hope voters will agree with them.
The of them referendums, which were filed earlier this afternoon with the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, would repeal the new flat tax system, as well as the 4.5 percent tax cap that effectively relaxes Proposition 208 Supporters of the referenda, including Stand for Children and the Arizona Education Association, must get nearly 119,000 signatures by September 28 to qualify for the November 2022 ballot.
The referendum process is enshrined in the Arizona State Constitution. A law, or part of a law, can be vetoed by voters at the ballot box if enough signatures are submitted to the Secretary of State’s office within 90 days of the end of the legislative session. during which the law was passed. While grassroots initiatives require 237,645 signatures to appear on the ballot box, referendums only need 118 823.
“It is clear that voters want more funding for education, they wanted more revenue for the state,” said Rebecca Gau, executive director of Stand for Children. Phoenix New Times. “Now you have 47 lawmakers and a governor trying to drastically reduce the amount of income voters wanted to go to education.”
“There is a moral imperative to honor the will of the voters and stop these devious schemes just because they are angry about losing an election,” she added. “We have been continually nickel and dimed by this legislature and this governor and they have done it again. It is unreasonable.”
Most Arizonans are likely to see minimal savings from the new flat tax system, according to the Legislature’s own tax analysts. People earning between $ 30,000 and $ 40,000 per year will get a tax cut of $ 17, while the mega-rich, those who earn more than $ 5 million per year, will earn an additional $ 350,303 under the new system, according to the Joint budget committee.
“Unless you’re a millionaire, you probably won’t see much of a tax cut,” said David Lujan, president and CEO of the Children’s Action Alliance, another group that backed Proposition 208 and backs the company. referendum effort. “You will feel the impact of reduced funding for public education and other priorities that are important to the people of Arizona.”
Gau said legal action is also being considered as a way to stop the new tax system, but nothing has been “finalized” yet.
“It is ludicrous to suggest that the state needs tax cuts for the richest and crumbs for everyone while our schools collapse,” she added. “Our coalition is on the move.”