Invest for Ed, dark money measures may go on ballot

Posted: July 15, 2018 / Source: Ahwatukee Foothills News

Arizonans may get a chance in November to weigh in on a proposal to tax the rich to provide more money for public education and another that would require full disclosure of any groups or individuals trying to influence their elections.

Supporters in separate drives filed petitions to put both referendum questions on the General Election ballot. Now they must now be checked to determine if each effort secured the required number of signatures.

Supporters of more money for K-12 education said there’s a reason they are taxing only the top 1 percent of Arizona wage earners to pick up the entire cost: It’s politically expedient.

“We wanted to know what the voters were going to tell us,’’ Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas said Thursday as organizers of the Invest in Ed movement submitted about 270,000 signatures to put a surcharge on state income taxes.

Only individuals earning more than $250,000 and couples who file jointly with income of more than $500,000 will pay a surcharge of 8 percent on anything they earn over that amount. The current maximum state tax rate is 4.54 percent. Those in the $500,000-plus range or couples with $1 million income will pay 9 percent of what they earn above those numbers.

Figures from the state Department of Revenue estimate that the bulk of the estimated $690 million that would be raised would come from about 20,000 taxpayers out of nearly 2.8 million who file tax returns.

Thomas bristled at questions of whether such a system to fund education on the backs of a small minority of Arizonans is fair. “How is it fair that students are in overcrowded, underfunded classrooms right now?’’ he responded.

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