Koch-Funded Group Seeks to Overturn Voter-Approved Tax on Arizona's Wealthiest 1% - 2020-12-16
Arizona is one of 26 states where citizens can initiate legislation through a ballot initiative, and in 2018, residents launched a ballot campaign to bolster resources for public education. The state's education funding had seen over $1 billion in cuts over the previous decade. According to the National Education Association, Arizona had the eighth-lowest average teacher salary of states, at $47,403.
Supporters of increased education funding undertook a ballot measure that would have raised $690 million more per year for schools through a tax increase on the state's wealthiest 1% of taxpayers. But while the measure gathered enough qualifying signatures, it did not make it to the ballot that year—the Arizona Chamber of Commerce brought a technical challenge to its wording, after corporations kicked in over $1 million to its campaign opposing the measure. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled 5-2 in August 2018 that a public pamphlet should have used the words "percentage points" rather than the percent symbol, among other issues.
Behind the Arizona Supreme Court's ruling, reporters Scott Zimmerman and David Armiak found at Exposed by CMD, was a 2017 bill passed by Republicans that required a "strict compliance" legal standard for ballot initiatives. That law signed by Gov. Doug Ducey, in turn, had been supported by the right-wing Barry Goldwater Institute for Public Policy Research, an advocacy group that has received funding from the Koch network, the Bradley Foundation, and other major conservative funders.