Arizona lawsuit seeks to keep education tax proposal off ballot

PHOENIX (AP) - A new Arizona lawsuit seeks to keep a proposal to raise taxes on the affluent to aid schools from getting on the November ballot.

The complaint filed Tuesday in Maricopa County Superior Court says the Invest in Education Act's description was misleading to the voters who signed qualifying petitions.

The ballot initiative seeks to raise income taxes on individuals who earn more than $250,000 annually. Supporters say the tax hikes would generate an estimated $690 million a year for teacher pay and public schools.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry created a committee to oppose the initiative. That committee, Arizonans for Great Schools and a Strong Economy Chairman, is chaired by Jaime Molera. He's one of two plaintiffs in the suit and a former superintendent of public instruction.

"The drafters of this initiative were either sloppy or deceptive," Molera said in a statement. "Unfortunately, we now must go to court to ensure that this poorly drafted, misleading initiative does not appear on the November ballot."

The suit says that the description that accompanied the petition doesn't say that it would repeal an existing law that adjusts tax brackets for inflation. Such a move would wind up increasing taxes on all taxpayers, the suit claims. But backers of the proposal say it makes no such change, and that inflationary adjustments will continue - meaning no tax increases for incomes less than a quarter million dollars.

"The Chamber's assertion that the Invest in Education initiative eliminates tax indexing is ridiculous and flies in the face of a plain reading of the initiative," said a statement from Joshua Buckley, chair of the Invest in Education Committee.

The lawsuit also claims a third party incorrectly checked off whether petition circulators were paid or volunteers, instead of the circulators themselves.