By Jeremy Beren / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ
(Phoenix, Ariz.) — Working families and public education proponents are among the many Arizona activists feeling enraged Friday in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that strikes Proposition 307 from the November 2022 ballot.
Prop 307 would have made the ballot as a statewide referendum on the large tax cuts that Governor Doug Ducey signed into law last year. But Republican appointees on the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, the right-wing organization which brought a lawsuit claiming that Arizonans should not be allowed to vote on the 2021 tax cuts.
In doing so, the state Supreme Court reversed a lower court's ruling in December.
Gov. Ducey trumpeted the Court's decision after it was handed down Thursday. He framed the reversal as a victory for all Arizonans, given that inflation around the state continues to rise.
"This ruling is another big win for our state's taxpayers and it couldn't have come at a better time," Ducey tweeted. "With inflation hitting Arizonans hard, this decision ultimately means more of their hard-earned dollars can stay in their wallets."
But education advocates do not see the decision this way, especially after Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper ruled last winter that Arizonans had a constitutional right to vote on the measure.
"Let's be clear about who wins with these tax cuts - the richest 1 percent of Arizonans who will get an average tax cut of more than $19K," Children's Action Alliance President and CEO David Lujan said via Twitter.
The majority of taxpayers are set to see their tax rate drop to a flat 2.5 percent. Budget analysis showed that thanks to this flat tax, Arizona taxpayers who earn at least $500,000 per year will save nearly 52 times as much money than a taxpayer with an income between $75,000 and $100,000.
The overriding view among activists is that even though Arizona continues to scrape the bottom of the barrel in providing appropriate funding for K-12 public school students, the Republican-controlled legislature and Ducey appointees on the Supreme Court continue to prioritize the state's richest residents at the expense of all others.
In addition, it was revealed recently that the state legislature has a $5.3 billion budget surplus, with no clear indication yet that at least a portion of it will be used to support Arizona's students or its working-class families.
"Today's ruling is as disgraceful as Arizona's ranking near the bottom in per-pupil spending. It erases Arizona voters and it sends a message to educators and students that the state prioritizes wealthy special interests over public education funding," Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas said.
"Time and again, voters have said plainly — and with the majority — that they want to fully fund our public schools, invest in resilient infrastructure, provide families with child care, and fix our rigged tax code," read a joint statement from the Children's Action Alliance and the Arizona Center for Economic Progress. "Yet, at every turn, our state government strips our power and uses our tax dollars to pad the pockets of the rich and corporations."
The nonpartisan organization Save Our Schools Arizona issued a statement Thursday night which included the claim that Arizona no longer functions as a democratic state when the stacked judiciary can overturn the will of the people.
"With an extremist legislature, an executive branch taking its orders from special interests, and a co-opted judicial branch, Arizona voters face serious decisions this November," Save Our Schools said. "We will work tirelessly to ensure that voters elect pro-public education candidates up and down the ballot, and reject narrowly-focused political interests that scheme to enrich themselves at the expense of schools, students and families."