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AZ Supreme Court rules on Invest in Ed initiative

invest, Invest for Ed, education, spending, tax, ArizonaI have been very conflicted the past several months in Arizona. In case you were not aware, the teachers walked out in Arizona over the lack of support and school funding for our public schools. (The teachers wore red and sported a #RedForEd hashtag)

Politics being politics, it came to an end after six days because funding was discovered. The walkout ended. Classes resumed. The legislature adjourned. Summer primary election season began.

But the issues did not end. The momentum carried into a petition taking the #RedForEd hashtag and creating an #InvestInEd hashtag. The purpose behind the Invest in Ed initiative was to get permanent funding in place for public school education – not just teacher salaries, but also for much-needed supplies, such as books and school repairs and maintenance.

The Invest in Ed Initiative gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in the Arizona November election.

The payment for the initiative was going to be funded by almost doubling the income tax rate for individuals making more than $250,000 and would eliminate the inflationary protections for all taxpayers.

The Arizona Supreme Court removed the initiative from the ballot, because the measure’s description did not “accurately describe the proposition” as required under Arizona law, because the description did not accurately represent the increased tax burden on the affected class of taxpayers. The description also failed to reference the “elimination of bracket inflation indexing.”

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The lack of clarity in the description was the undoing for #InvestInEd but that still does not explain the reasons for my internal conflicts.

My daughter is a high school history teacher in a Title 1 (low-income) school. There are not enough textbooks for her classes. So, she teaches without a textbook. Don’t get me wrong, she loves being a teacher, she loves what she does.

The other side of the story – many of my clients and friends would have their Arizona taxes nearly doubled to get more money for public schools. Ironically, at a time, when the tax law passed in December 2017 limits the deductions that taxpayers can claim for state and local taxes on their federal income tax return.

Hence, the conflict. A tax for a worthy cause on wealthier individuals, with no chance of a deduction.

So, my conflict is over. But unless another funding source can be found for public education, the battle will carry on.

Donna H. Laubscher, CPA