Arizona’s teacher union and education advocates have submitted enough signatures, if they survive scrutiny, to put a repeal of tax cuts on the 2022 election ballot.
The Arizona Education Association, along with other public education advocates, submitted more than 340,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office hours before Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline.
“Today’s filing is an effort to stop another one of the Governor’s reckless attempts to hand out money to the wealthy while disregarding the will of AZ voters or the impact on our public schools,” AEA President Joe Thomas said.
The two referendums, which were filed July 2, aim to undo Arizona’s latest income tax policy that changes the state’s progressive income tax to a flat 2.5% rate and another law that caps the total rate of income tax a filer can pay at 4.5%. This change would affect high earners who would be subject to Proposition 208.
Enacted at the ballot box in 2020, Prop. 208 adds a 3.5% income tax premium on single filers and pass-through entities earning more than $250,000. If the referendum fails, a high-earning taxpayer subject to the 3.5% tax would have their state income tax lowered to offset that burden.
Proceeds of that tax would go to increasing teacher pay, teacher retention and other public education initiatives. Supporters say the tax would raise more than $1 billion in annual tax revenue.
“Parents, teachers and citizens should not have to pound the pavement year-after-year to collect signatures on petitions to fund our schools,” said Beth Lewis, founder of Save Our Schools Arizona.
Supporters of the tax cuts say the petitioners misled residents into signing.
“The teachers union and an out of state interest group hired hundreds of paid circulators to go around the state lying to Arizona voters about the tax cuts passed by the state legislature,” said Scot Mussi, president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. “They knew that voters wouldn’t want to sign a referendum that would block a tax cut for all Arizonans, so instead they told voters that the referendum would stop education funding cuts. This was simply false and shows that their reckless liberal agenda lacks support with the voters of Arizona. ”
The Arizona Constitution allows a law passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor to be vetoed at the ballot box. For the 2022 election, a referendum requires 118,823 valid signatures to make it on the ballot. The measure would then need a simple majority of votes to cancel out the law.