Arizona Chamber of Commerce uses ‘fuzzy math’ to attack InvestInEd tax initiative

Our corporate overlords at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which has subverted numerous campaigns with its “dark money” over the years and created the GOP culture of corruption which exists in Arizona, has filed a lawsuit against the InvestInEd tax initiative to once again thwart the will of the people.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Foes of education tax proposal base legal challenge on arithmetic:

A new lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry contends the petitions circulated by the #InvestInEd committee are “objectively false and misleading.” GOP Attorney Kory Langhofer wants a judge to block the issue from getting on the November ballot.

Part of Langhofer’s contention is that the measure, if approved, would do more than boost income tax rates on individuals making more than $250,000 and couples in the $500,000-plus range.

He argues it also would rescind a 2015 law that indexes all income tax brackets, a move that would affect those in lower-wage categories and that the 100-word description fails to inform voters of that fact. Jim Barton, attorney for the campaign, counters that Langhofer is off-base and the indexing is preserved.

But much of the litigation is based on numbers — and how voters may understand them.

Here comes the GOP “fuzzy math.”

Langhofer points out that individual Arizonans now pay 4.54 percent on any income of more than $150,000, or $300,000 for couples.

The initiative, if approved, establishes a new 8 percent tax bracket for earnings above $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for couples. And those in the $500,000 individual and $1 million married category would pay 9 percent on earnings above that level.

Based on that, the initiative description says that the law increases tax rates by 3.46 percent for those in the first category and 4.46 percent for those in the new top bracket.

Langhofer, however, says that the math is bad, at least in how the increase is described.

He said if the rate was really going up just 3.46 percent, someone who owes $17,085 under current law would owe $17,725 under the proposal.

What Langhofer said would be accurate is telling people that the tax rates on income above $250,000 would go up by 76.2 percent — the percent increase between 4.54 and 8.0 percent — translating to a liability of $22,311 if the initiative becomes law.

“The 100-word summary’s representation … hence is false and misled signers into believing the act would enact only modest adjustments to current rates,” Langhofer is arguing. “Accordingly, the initiative petition’s 100-word summary misrepresents a principal provision of the act, is factually false and misleading, and creates a substantial danger of confusing or unfairness.”

And Langhofer wants a judge to rule that every petition with that description — meaning all of them — are invalid and the signatures cannot be counted.

Keep in mind that this Langhofer regularly brings these lawsuits, and he regularly loses them.

Jim Barton said “This lawsuit is such a reach, I can’t even believe it.”

He said it is Langhofer who is trying a bit of creative “fuzzy math” that didn’t sell any better in 2008 when foes of a proposed percentage point increase in the state’s 5.6 percent sales tax rate told a judge it should be described to voters as a 17.8 percent increase in taxes. The judge threw out that claim.

I’ve gone to court successfully and had that kind of nonsensical libertarian junk thrown out,” he said, calling it “absolutely deceptive” to claim the initiative would result in a 76 percent tax increase. “It is a 3.46 percent increase.”

If approved, the tax increase would raise an estimated $690 million for education. Proponents contend the state needs a dedicated source of revenues to guarantee not only promised teacher raises but also help bring state per-pupil spending closer to the national average.

But wait, there’s more!

Langhofer has another legal theory to try to quash the initiative if his arguments about the 100-word ballot description get no legal traction.

He said Arizona law requires a person who circulates petitions to check whether he or she is paid or a volunteer. But in this case, Langhofer said, the petitions had the check marks already made when they were given to circulators.

While that may be a technical violation, Langhofer pointed out that state lawmakers approved a change in laws earlier this year requiring initiative petitions to be in “strict compliance” with every aspect of election statutes. He said the failure of each circulator to make the check mark means the petition drive did not strictly comply with the law.

This is true, but that statute is currently on appeal before the Arizona Supreme Court, which has not yet ruled. Unless and until it does, the court may apply the current “substantial compliance” doctrine. State argues case on ballot-measure rule not ‘ripe’. “The justices gave no date to consider the issue.”

The Arizona Republic adds Opponents sue to kick education tax measure off the ballot:

The leader of the campaign opposing the education income-tax proposal, Jaime Molera, chairman of the Arizonans for Great Schools and a Strong Economy committee, has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to kick the measure off the November ballot.

“The drafters of this initiative were either sloppy or deceptive,” Molera said in a statement announcing the complaint. “Unfortunately, we now must go to court to ensure that this poorly-drafted, misleading initiative does not appear on the November ballot.”

Molera’s group is backed by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Joshua Buckley, a Mesa teacher and the #InvestInEd campaign’s chairman, dismissed the complaint as “a baseless lawsuit attempting to prevent Arizonans from voting on this sustainable funding source for our children’s classrooms.”

Buckley fired back at the lawsuit in his own statement.

“The Chamber’s assertion that the Invest in Education initiative eliminates tax indexing is ridiculous and flies in the face of a plain reading of the initiative,” Buckley said. “Invest In Ed will result in no tax increase for taxable incomes less than a quarter million dollars. The Chamber’s analysis to the contrary is plainly false.”

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