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Lawsuit filed against Prop 208, 'largest income tax hike in Arizona history'

A lawsuit was filed against the legality of Arizona's Proposition 208, calling it the "largest income tax hike in Arizona history," and bringing into question its constitutionality.

As Arizona's election results were certified by the Secretary of State on Monday, Nov. 30, comes a new lawsuit saying the ballot proposition, which raises taxes that will go toward education, is unconstitutional for several reasons.

The lawsuit was filed by Scottsdale’s Rose Law Group on behalf of Ann Siner, CEO and Founder of My Sister’s Closet, and retired Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Buttrick.

The Goldwater Institute also filed a lawsuit, saying the prop violates the constitution.

"The Arizona Constitution says the power to tax and spend state funds rests with the Legislature. Prop 208 bypasses Arizona’s elected leaders and gives the power to spend the funds to unelected bureaucrats with no oversight," reads a press release, in part.

The state's economy is also at risk due to Prop 208, Siner claims, saying, business owners may choose to leave Arizona due to higher taxes.

"In the long run that’s bad for the economy and bad for school funding. I am all for getting more money to schools. But 208 is not the cure. It’s bad medicine that will shrink our economy and hurt school funding in the long run," she said.

Buttrick said of the lawsuit, “The Arizona Constitution was written to prevent the sort of overreach demonstrated by Prop 208. It fundamentally upends the way Arizonans are taxed and sets a dangerous precedent for the future.”

The press release outlined reasons why they're arguing against the prop's overreach:

  • Proposition 208’s statutory provisions conflict with the Arizona Constitution.
  • Proposition 208 is an unconstitutional removal of the Legislature’s power to tax.
  • The Arizona Constitution says a super majority of the Legislature is required to increase taxes.
  • The Arizona Constitution requires that the Legislature’s power of taxation shall never be surrendered, suspended, or contracted away.
  • The Legislature’s core powers can’t be delegated.
  • Proposition 208 violates the Constitution by prohibiting the Legislature from adjusting educational funding.
  • Proposition 208 improperly tries to supersede the Arizona Constitution.
  • Such a fundamental shift in the way Arizonans are taxed would require a change in the Arizona constitution.
  • This is an unconstitutional attempt to limit the Legislature's power.
  • The Legislature has no authority over how Prop 208 funds are spent.

When Prop 208 passed with more than 1,675,800 votes, or 51.75%, education associations and educators expressed enthusiasm for future funding.

“By voting Yes on 208, Arizona voters made it loud and clear they want teachers to be compensated properly and have the resources needed to successfully educate their students,” said Joe Thomas, President of the Arizona Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union.

When voters chose "yes" or "no" on Prop 208, they read the following on the ballot: "The law would impose a 3.5% tax surcharge on taxable annual income over $250,000 for single persons or married persons filing separately, or $500,000 for married persons filing jointly or heads of households, to increase funding for public education."

To learn more about the lawsuit, visit this link.