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Lawsuits defy Arizona initiative taxing wealthy for schools

Posted at 7:26 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 00:20:53-05

PHOENIX (AP) — Two lawsuits were filed Monday challenging a proposition that Arizona voters approved to impose an additional 3.5% tax on individuals earning above $250,000 to pay school teacher salaries and training.

The Goldwater Institute filed one action on behalf of a coalition of taxpayers, legislators, and small business groups, calling Proposition 208 unconstitutional.

A business owner and a retired local judge filed the second suit in Maricopa County Superior Court.

The lawsuits argue that under the Arizona Constitution, the power to tax and spend state funds rests with the Legislature.

"Proposition 208 gives certain powers to state executive agencies including the department of education and says that the legislature can and can't do certain things," said Tom Galvin with the Rose Law Group. "But the legislature has powers under the state constitution to raise taxes, to lower taxes, to spend money and to do things in an appropriations manners. Proposition 208 conflicts with that. So what we need to do is take this to the court and show the court how proposition 208 is flawed."

One of the proposition's authors predicted the litigation will not prevail.

The President of Tucson Unified School District's teachers union said she doesn't agree with the argument that Prop 208 breaks the law.

"We're one of the few states that has a ballot initiative that's brought forth by the people and voters overwhelming voted for it so I don't understand quite what the challenge is for the people who have brought the lawsuit," TEA President Margaret Chaney said.