Signatures filed for Arizona ‘Invest in Ed’ initiative, which would enact an income tax surcharge for education funding

The campaign Invest in Education reported filing more than 435,000 signatures for a ballot initiative in Arizona to enact a 3.5 percent income tax, in addition to existing income taxes, on income above $250,000 (single filing) or $500,000 (joint filing). The initiative would distribute the revenue to teacher and classroom support staff salaries, teacher mentoring and retention programs, career and technical education programs, and the Arizona Teachers Academy. At least 237,645 (about 54.6 percent) of the submitted signatures need to be valid for the initiative to go before voters on November 3, 2020.
Invest in Education raised $956,338 through March 31, 2020, according to the most recent campaign finance report. The deadline for the next scheduled reports is July 15, 2020. Stand for Children, an organization that advocates for public education funding, provided $726,148 to Invest in Education. Amber Gould, a high school teacher and state director of the National Education Association, is chairperson of the campaign.
In 2018, Invest in Education collected signatures for a similar ballot initiative, which was certified for the ballot as Proposition 207. The Arizona Supreme Court removed Proposition 207 from the ballot on August 29, 2018, in a 5-2 opinion. Justices ruled that the petitions should have used the words percentage points, rather than the percent symbol to describe the tax increases, and stated that income tax brackets would no longer be adjusted for inflation. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry opposed the effort in 2018, contributing $911,812 to the committee opposing Proposition 207.
The process of verifying signatures could take until August 26, 2020. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) has until July 31 to remove ineligible petition sheets. Counties then have until August 21, 2020, to conduct random samples. Hobbs will then have until August 26 to aggregate the random samples and announce whether the initiative will appear on the ballot.
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