Judge hears arguments over whether to nix voter-approved education tax on richest Arizonans | Local news

Gaona does not dispute the supremacy of the constitution.

He points out, however, that the constitutional definition of local school revenues does not include “grants.” That means the dollars raised and the money given out are not subject to that limit, he argued.

Hanging in the balance is the vote to impose a 3.5{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} surcharge on adjusted incomes above $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for married couples filing jointly. Estimates are it would affect about 4{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of Arizonans.

It spells out that 50{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of the money would be in “grants to school districts and charter schools … for the purpose of hiring teachers and classroom support personnel.” Those funds also could be used to raise salaries.

Another 25{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} is for student support personnel, with 10{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} earmarked to help retain teachers in the classroom, 12{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} for career and technical education and the balance into a fund to help pay the college tuition of students who go into teaching.

Voters approved the measure despite a campaign financed largely by business interests to kill it. Now some of the same groups, joined by Republican lawmakers, are trying to keep it from taking effect.

Draye has a laundry list of what he contends are legal flaws in the initiative.

For example, a constitutional amendment, previously approved by voters, requires a two-thirds vote when the Legislature wants to enact a new or increased tax. Draye contends the same requirement exists when voters themselves approve a new tax.

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Thu Dec 24 , 2020