On August 19, 2021, the Arizona Supreme Court let politics win over justice. The Ducey-packed Court all but struck down INVESTinED in a blatant partisan ruling that will cut nearly a billion dollars in school funding approved by 1.7 million voters last year.
The Court ruled that the INVESTinED revenue is subject to constitutional district expenditure limits. No proof was presented that INVESTinED revenue would exceed this cap, so the Court has remanded the lawsuit back to lower courts for review, which we expect in the next few months.
The Court assumed the legislature would not raise the education expenditure limit even though it has numerous times in the past. In fact, the legislature will have to raise it again by March 2022 for school districts to spend Prop 301 funds. Although INVESTinED uses the exact same language used in Prop 301, passed in 2000, the Court still found fault with INVESTinED language. The Supreme Court has directed the lower court to look at all scenarios that would cause the INVESTinED revenue to exceed the constitutional spending cap.
All other claims against INVESTinED were dismissed back in June. While we would have preferred that the Court uphold the law in its entirety, this ruling does clarify that the people of Arizona have the right to tax themselves to raise revenue.
The Invest in Education Act was crafted to benefit all Arizona’s 1.1 million K-12 students while not taxing working and middle-class families impacted by the pandemic. Today’s ruling does not invalidate the fact that our governor and state legislature have failed to fund our public schools. It does not erase the need our public school students and educators have for support and resources in order to be successful. And it does not overrule the support Arizona voters have for our public schools and their desire to increase school funding.
Joe Thomas, President of the Arizona Education Association said, “This decision not only negates the will of the voters to raise Arizona’s school spending from among the lowest in the nation, but without legislative action it jeopardizes existing Arizona school revenue sources like Prop 301 and would lead to permanently underfunded Arizona schools – and a weaker Arizona economy.”
The Prop 208 – INVESTinED campaign, which accomplished a historic election win at the ballot box last November, is now Invest in Arizona. The new coalition includes the original members – Arizona Education Association, Stand for Children Arizona, Children’s Action Alliance, Arizona Center for Economic Progress, Arizona Interfaith Network, and is now joined by Save Our Schools, and Friends of the Arizona School Boards Association.
Following the Court ruling, the Invest in Arizona Coalition demanded Governor Ducey immediately call a special session of the legislature to remove the archaic education spending cap at heart of the flawed ruling. The coalition is committed to keeping up the fight to ensure that Arizona students have a bright future by gathering signatures right now to overturn massive tax cuts for the wealthy enacted this year. Visit investinaznow.com to learn more.