The Arizona Supreme Court is working through its biannual job of reviewing challenges to ballot propositions for November. Last week it approved the Invest in Education measure, with changes from the version that failed to make the ballot two years ago. Challengers said that those signing petitions had been misled and that incentives to circulators were improper, but the court did not agree. As we’ve said before, this “tax the rich” plan should be looked at with skepticism in spite of the fact that nearly everyone supports education.
The measure reportedly would affect only the top 4% of earners. Those people now pay about 2% more of their income than the lowest rate of 2.59%. Proposition 210 would add another 3.5% as a surcharge. Critics, including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, see a negative impact on the state’s economy, especially since some small businesses are organized in a way where the owners are taxed personally. The effect would be that jobs and wages of others would be affected. And to the extent that the change would be a drain on the economy and the amount of investment in the state, the effect would be widespread.
Arizona, under the leadership of Gov. Doug Ducey, has been able to raise teacher pay by 20% over four years. The state is now spending $5,762 per student compared to $4,163 in 2001. That, however, has been damaged by inflation.
Still to come are rulings on two other questionable ballot propositions: more discretion for judges on “non-dangerous” offenses and mandatory pay hikes for hospital workers.
With the direction national politics is headed in this year, tax hikes may well hit just about anyone with a job and the federal government may accelerate its spending binge, with the economy paying a price. Passing another tax hike in Arizona, even though it’s sold as affecting just “somebody else,” is not a good strategy.