On August 29, 2018, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled to exclude an educational funding proposal from the state’s November ballot. According to the Arizona Daily Star, the “Invest In Ed” initiative proposed to provide the public education system with an estimated $690 million through a 3.5 to 4 percent increase in income tax on earners of more than $250,000 per year and 4.4 percent on couples with a combined income of $500,000 or more. The court stated that the language of the proposal was unclear about whether the new tax brackets would take into account inflation, and therefore opposed the measure. The initiative had been supported by 270,000 registered voters who signed the petition to include it on the November ballot, as well as the Arizona Education Association, which consists of Arizona’s public school educators and staff, who hoped the bill would draw people to the polls to vote for candidates that backed public education.
Opposing the bill was the state’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, whose president Glenn Hamer stated that the education initiative would “drag on the state’s overall economy.”
Without this funding, the state will have to search for a different source to provide teachers with the twenty percent salary increase they were promised by 2020. The state legislature says that the ballot question was pulled because it would hurt small business owners. The court’s ruling favors the upper class: An annual income of $250,000 and above, as targeted by the initiative, is considerably greater than $53,588, the median household income for Arizona in 2016.
Since December 5, 2018, the only corporate media source that covered the Arizona Supreme Court decision was the New York Times. Although the NewYork Times article included comments from multiple stakeholders involved in the initiative, such as the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, it lacked details regarding the future of Arizona’s public education.
Howard Fischer, “Arizona Supreme Court Throws ‘Invest in Ed’ Initiative off Ballot,” August 29, 2018, Arizona Daily Star (via Capitol Media Services), https://tucson.com/news/local/arizona-supreme-court-throws-invest-in-ed-initiative-off-ballot/article_ff493910-7797-5ec7-b28a-d6c958a105fe.html.
Student Researchers: Candace Lee, Melahicia Virgil, and Zoe Young (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Faculty Evaluator: Allison Butler (University of Massachusetts Amherst)