AZ Supreme Court bars InvestinEd ballot initiative

PHOENIX (AP/KSAZ) -- The InvestinEd initiative will not appear on the November ballot, according to an order from the Arizona Supreme Court.

The proposal sought to raise the income tax rate to 8% for individuals earning more than $250,000 and households earning more than $500,000 for the portion of their income above those cutoffs.

Opponents said the tax hike would have harmed the state's economy, while supporters say it would have raised an estimated $690 million for schools.

According to court documents, challengers of the proposition claim the measure's 100-word description did not "accurately describe the proposition", as required under Arizona law, claiming the description did not accurately represent the increased tax burden on the affected class of tax payers, and that the measure also failed to reference the "elimination of bracket inflation indexing".

In the ruling, a majority of the court found the proposition's description in the tax rate change, combined with the omission of any discussion of changes in indexing for inflation, collectively "creates a significant danger of confusion or unfairness".

"It got thrown off the ballot because it misrepresented what they were trying to do," said Jaime Molera, the plaintiff in the case.

The order reverses a lower-court ruling earlier this month that rejected the challenge to the measure.

State House Democratic leader Rebecca Rios has issued a statement on the court's decision.

"Republican opponents of public education have once again found a way to keep our schools at the bottom of the barrel. Arizona voters have been robbed of the opportunity to weigh in on our kids' future. The public understands what this initiative would do, but the Chambers of Commerce and other opponents used a technicality and a Supreme Court stacked by Governor Ducey to take away their voice. The incredible Red for Ed movement has energized and galvanized our state, and Arizonans will be justifiably furious at this decision. If voters want the legislature to truly address school funding, we need to change the governor and this legislature."

Joshua Buckley, Co-Chair of the initiative, also responded to the Supreme Court's decision.

Others, however, celebrated the decision.

"This has been a great day for taxpayers," said Tom Jenney with Americans for Prosperity in Arizona. "It's been a great day for everyone looking out for freedom."

The Arizona Republican Party called it a "huge win" for Arizonans.

"The question becomes now is what happens to the #RedforED Movement." said Julie Brown with Educate Gilbert.

Some parents are now worried that this could spark new talk of another #RedforED-style walkout.

"As a parent of a child, do I have to worry about is my school gonna close, are teachers going to show up. I think the walkout is a big potential," said Brown.

Legal experts don't believe there's another step for the committee to take, and #RedforED leaders are asking teachers to wear their shirts, Thursday morning.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.