Lawsuits defy Arizona initiative taxing wealthy for schools

PHOENIX (AP) — Two lawsuits were filed Monday challenging a proposition that Arizona voters approved to impose an additional 3.5% tax on individuals earning above $250,000 to pay school teacher salaries and training.

The Goldwater Institute filed one action on behalf of a coalition of taxpayers, legislators, and small business groups, calling Proposition 208 unconstitutional.

A Scottsdale business owner and a retired local judge filed the second suit in Maricopa County Superior Court.

The lawsuits were filed the same day state officials certified the Nov. 3 election results. They argue that under the Arizona Constitution, the power to tax and spend state funds rests with the Legislature.

“I don't think that either suit will go very far in the courts,” said David Lujan, one of the proposition's authors. “It's constitutional, it will go ahead and it will raise a lot of money for Arizona schools.”

Ann Siner, CEO and Founder of My Sister’s Closet, argued that the tax hike jeopardizes Arizona's economy, which is already suffering from the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Retired Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Buttrick said the initiative fundamentally upends the way that Arizona residents are taxed by bypassing the Legislature.