This is the 100-word summary that went on voter ballot petitions for Invest in Ed.

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How is this unclear?

How is this as Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury stated in his obtuse decision to throw the Invest in Ed initiative off the November ballot “opaque?”

To the 435,669  people who signed the petition during a pandemic, there is nothing in this summary that misleads the voter on the intentions for the Invest in Ed citizens’ initiative or how the education measures contained in it would be paid for.

With only 100 words to write in, what else can be fit in?

With his obtuse finding, Coury, in justifying his questionable decision, should have, if he had the ability to, offered his own “correct” 100-word verbiage for the initiative.

In the 48 hours since Judge Coury’s moronic ruling, other leaders and candidates for office have expressed their surprise and outrage at the decision that will be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court

Arizona Center for Economic Progress Head and former Democratic Legislative David Lujan

David Lujan

 “Yes, we submitted to legislative council for review, however, the legislative council does not review the 100-word summary that goes on the petition and that is what our opposition has used as the basis for their challenge both in 2018 and this time – claiming it was misleading or that we left out key provisions. There is no “correct” or “wrong” way to write the 100-word summary. It is a subjective test: would a reasonable person think that the 100-word summary fairly and accurately describes the general nature of what the initiative does.  We are not required to include a summary of every provision only “principal provisions.” It is not possible to include a summary of every provision in 100 words and that is why the law requires us to staple a copy of the complete initiative language to every petition so anyone can read the complete language if they choose.  Our 100-word summary is attached. You or any other reasonable person can read it and judge for yourself whether it meets the standard. We have no doubt that it does. The judge ruled that there are 5 additional provisions that we should have included in our summary – these five provisions are not fair and impartial, they are our opposition’s talking points.  Our summary was already at 98 words and I am not aware of any language that we could have removed that would not be considered a principal provision.  The judge quite simply set an impossible standard for us to meet and for any ballot initiative in the future to meet if the Supreme Court affirms this decision.”

 “I know this judge. When he was a finalist more than a decade ago to be appointed to the superior court bench, I wrote letters to then-Governor Napolitano to recommend she appoint him. She did not.  A couple of years later Governor Brewer appointed him to the bench.  I regret writing those letters of support now. Not because we lost this court decision. I respect the judiciary and I respect that he can see the case differently than we do. But what disappoints me so much is all of the editorial language he inserted into his decision.  That was totally inappropriate and personally insulting to many of us on the committee.  And it is that kind of editorial language that can shake people’s confidence in our judicial system because it goes beyond just the judge interpreting the law, and in this case, to me, sounded like he was using this decision as his application to Governor Ducey to be appointed to the Court of Appeals.  And I hate saying that, because I am also a lawyer and I always cringe when I hear people who lose a court case saying that the judge was political, but in this case, after several readings of his ruling filled with bias commentary and so off-base of the evidence he was presented and can come to no other conclusion.”

“In regard to our opposition, the Chamber of Commerce and the well-paid CEOs they represent have never offered any plans of their own to fix the funding crisis in our schools.  Instead, they block the efforts of more than 400,000 Arizonans who went out in a pandemic to sign petitions so that voters can do the work in November that our legislature has failed to do for more than two decades now. Our opposition’s plan for growing our economy is only about how they can put more money in their pockets and they do nothing for everyday Arizonans and they should be ashamed of themselves.”

“We will be immediately appealing to the Arizona Supreme Court.”

Children’s Action Alliance Director Siman Qaasim released a statement which read:

Siman Qaasim

“Children’s Action Alliance is disappointed and confused by the “political” ruling issued Friday by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury, the #InvestInEd campaign is again headed to the Arizona Supreme Court.”

“The Superior Court decision prompts questions about the future of ballot initiatives in Arizona.”

“A Maricopa County judge didn’t just throw a tax increase to better fund Arizona’s schools off the ballot. He virtually ensured that voters will never will be able to decide whether Invest in Ed should become law. Or much of anything else. The Arizona Legislature, in recent years, has dealt a series of systematic body blows to our constitutional right to make laws at the ballot box. But Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury? In one swift judicial upper cut, he may have just delivered a knock-out punch,” read Laurie Roberts’ Monday morning op-ed on az central.”

“Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury’s ruling, if upheld, could make things infinitely more tricky for citizen-led initiatives, namely having to craft language suitable not just to supporters but the opposition, as well,” claims Abe Kwok in a similar op-ed.”

“These challenges will ultimately make their own way to the state Supreme Court. The justices should reject them. And, to avoid a continuing avalanche of such challenges in future elections, they should clarify what was peculiarly egregious about the 2018 Invest in Ed initiative that warranted an exception to the generally broad discretion initiative proponents should have in summarizing their measures,” wrote Robert Robb in his own op-ed.”

“Children’s Action Alliance supports the Invest in Education Act because it will produce hundreds of millions of new, sustainable dollars annually for public schools so that every Arizona child will have the opportunity to receive the quality education they deserve. Arizona has one of the worst teacher shortages and some of the largest class sizes in the nation. This measure will enable us to provide meaningful pay raises for teachers, classroom aides, and other student support staff. This will also enable schools to hire more counselors, school nurses, and other staff who keep students healthy and safe. Investing in public education now is especially important so school staff and administrators can help students recover the learning losses caused by the COVID-19 crisis.”

 Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas posted his perspective on a social media video.

Joe Thomas

Please click below to view:

https://www.facebook.com/joe.thomas.1401/videos/10158858571279060/

 

 

 

 

 

Legislative District Nine State Senator Victoria Steele

Victoria Steele

State Senator Victoria Steele

 “If Major League Baseball can’t safely reopen their season, even with a carefully laid out plan, how can we expect underfunded schools to be able to safely open?  We can’t – this is a disaster in the making and we can avoid it.  If schools open now, it will mean teachers and children will get sick and some will die.  And just because our governor refuses to take responsibility, doesn’t mean he won’t be responsible for deaths that are preventable.  He must postpone the opening of in-person school.”

 

 

 

 

 Legislative District 18 State Representative Mitzi Epstein

State Representative Mitzi Epstein

State Representative Mitzi Epstein

 “Our children deserve a high-quality education.  Businesses need customers that are well-educated to support the local economy and make wise choices as consumers.”

 “We need to invest in education.  Past legislators have voted for budgets that cut education due to the last recession, and it has never been restored.” 

 “When Invest in Ed passes, for the very few who pay it, their tax burden might increase from 5%  to 5.5% or less.  It depends on how much income they have over the threshold level.  Currently, people with low wages may be paying 10% to 13% of their income in state and local wages.”

 “That’s right.  Currently, low wage workers may pay 2.6 times the rate of those with high income for all state and local taxes.” 

 “The Invest in Education Initiative is fair because it is an opportunity for those with the highest income to pay a little more for public education, as everybody else has been doing all along.”

 “Judge Coury’s ruling is a distraction to look only at what matters to him.”

 “Instead, we need to consider what really matters – our children and their teachers!  To see why this initiative is fair and appropriate, we need to look at the whole picture of who is paying taxes in Arizona, not only at income taxes.”

 “The Court’s Ruling against the #InvestInEd Initiative defies logic.”

“You cannot fit 500 baseballs into a gallon bucket, and you cannot fit all the provisions that Judge Coury demanded into a 100-word description.  The judge ruled that the 100-word description must include 5 provisions of legal minutiae. The court needed over 200 words just to describe the 5 provisions, not even counting the basics of what the initiative does.”

 “Really?!?  The judge required that the description must include the opponents’ talking points.  Those talking points are the result of a voter’s values and analysis of the proposed law in combination with other laws.  Voters should do that analysis, based on their own values.   Judge Coury’s ruling applies his values and he cherry-picked the existing laws for comparison that he wanted to use.  Judge Coury’s analysis of the initiative based on his personal values should not be a requirement of the 100-word description.”

 “To add insult to injury, the judge scolded educators.  Teachers and parents are finding Judge Coury’s ruling to be highly offensive to them.  Voters who signed the petitions found the 100-word description to be clear, and his ruling is offensive for calling them confused when they signed.”   

 “The supporters of the Invest in Ed Initiative took the time to very methodically consider and learn from the 2018 ruling from the Supreme Court.  They sought critical feedback from the bipartisan AZ Legislative Council, and they used that advice to re-write the initiative to make it stronger and clearer”. 

 “Judge Coury ruled that the IIE initiative is not allowed to be on the ballot, but he did not take responsibility for that ruling.  Instead, he made a rude accusation to the teachers, lawyers, parents, and other sponsors of the initiative, blaming them for the result of his ruling.   In my opinion, that is a level of rudeness and manipulation that brings to mind scenes from the movie, “Gaslight,” where a man torments a woman with lies.”

 “If the Supreme Court upholds this ruling, it will begin a dark time for all citizen initiatives.  Sponsors of proposed laws would have to foresee the talking points that their opponents may have and include them in the 100-word descriptions of all future initiatives. That would be insane!”

Legislative District Eight State House State House Candidate Sharon Girard

Sharon Girard

 “It is with great disappointment that a Maricopa County Superior court judge tossed Invest in Ed off this year’s ballot.  In a poorly written decision, he dashed the hopes of hundreds of thousands of voters and volunteers who braved the heat and a pandemic to sign on to this measure.  The group that fought the initiative does not have the best interests of our children and educators in mind.  Arizona is in desperate need of a dedicated revenue stream of funding for education and this measure would assure this money.  Invest in ED has proven that when voters are given a choice, they will vote to support public education.  This fight is not over.  There will be an appeal.  But no matter what, we must elect candidates up and down the ballot who will support and fully fund public education in our state.  Invest in Ed has taught us one very important lesson. Voters overwhelmingly supported this measure and want education to be a top priority in November.”

 

 Legislative District 22 State House Candidate Kathleen Honne

Kathleen Honne

“Once again, the influence of legal corruption showed up in Arizona politics, this time through the judicial system. At some point, Arizonans are going to recognize the worst offenders, in every single member of the Chamber of Commerce, and make the hard decision- are they on the side of the future and our children, or the past and big business! Thirty million Americans had their jobs cut during the past six months, there is NO plan from the elected right or the corporate elite to address this. That $1300.00 stimulus received in the spring was funneled right back through the major banks at the center of our economic crisis. I will not give up hope that enough pressure from educators and their supporters using our “Outside Voices” will have an impact on the Supreme Court appeals process to allow Arizonans the constitutional right to vote on Invest In Ed this November. The students and staff of the Arizona Education System deserve consistent right fighters in their corner. I will continue to be that.”

Legislative District 11 State Senate Candidate Gunnery Sergeant JoAnna Mendoza

JoAnna Mendoza, Candidate for AZ Senate in LD11

Gunnery Sergeant JoAnna Mendoza

 “Invest in Ed manifested as a grassroots initiative led by teachers, parents, students, and everyday Arizonans who were fed up with the years of underfunding our public education system and the refusal by the GOP majority in our State Legislature to prioritize kids over corporations. We’re tired of waiting for Governor Ducey and the GOP majority to take action. The key to a strong sustainable economy is a high-quality public education system. Arizona ranks 48th in the nation in per-pupil education funding, and that puts us at a major disadvantage in recovering from the pandemic. The Maricopa County Superior Court decision against the Invest in Ed initiative is not only detrimental to our children’s future but Arizona’s economic future. The judge stated that the initiative violates Arizona law for its “non-transparent description” but Arizona law restricts the description to a 100- word summary. Impossible standards were established by the judge in his ruling, including mandated use of the opposition’s talking points and provisions that are themselves 130 words! This decision appears to be a political one, designed to protect special interests. I support the Invest in Ed initiative because it would provide hundreds of millions of dollars annually to K-12 education funding and help address our teacher- shortage crisis, like in District 11 schools that don’t have certified teachers. It also ensures accountability that dollars are spent where they’re needed most – on teachers, counselors, aides, and support services desperately needed during these challenging times. The fight is not over. We will continue to work to ensure that our children have access to a high-quality public education system. I encourage you to join the fight for our children’s and Arizona’s future – find out more about the facts, the decision, and how to support the appeal at www.investined.com/appeal.”

Legislative District Ten State House Candidate Paul Stapleton Smith

Paul Stapleton Smith

 “Over 400,000 voters signed a petition to put a public-school budget item before our voters. The Chamber of Commerce and their rich, powerful, and privileged donors, under the approving gaze of Doug “the COVID” Ducey, just gleefully denied us the right to vote on it. Again. How? By persuading a judge to create a shady, bizarre technicality that will baffle English teachers, parents, and our voters alike in its tortured language.”

“Our constitutional right to create and vote on citizen ballot initiatives can be powerful vehicles for change. They have the ability to move beyond gridlocked party politics, to offer ordinary people a clearer path to real solutions.”  

“With the growing flood of dirty money in our politics (see Outlaw Dirty Money), our citizen ballot initiatives can effectively check the overreach corporate power. Here in Arizona, weve seen our initiative process successfully raise our minimum wage when the legislature would not. As a response to our legislatures failure to fund public education, we saw a previous initiative attempt which gathered more than a quarter of a million signatures in only six weeks”.

“As one of the organizers of #RedForEd in southern Arizona, I have seen what our grandparents, parents, students and public educators, linked arm in arm with unions and hundreds of thousands of community voters can do when they are shut down and ignored.”

“We can fight back if we organize more effectively and quickly. Labor unions are helping to fund the very expensive legal appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court, a Ducey politically packed group of appointees now looking out at the angry voters with apprehension.”

“The Chamber of Commerce and their big corporate overlords fear this mighty instrument of ours. The numerous attacks and restrictions that they placed on our signature gathering, which they explicitly allow on their own petitions, can be rolled back by a simple legislative majority. We can then refer even stronger protections to the ballot for our best bet to keep the dirty hands of the Trump Party off of our rights. For the love of us all, wear a mask and vote!”

Legislative District 23 State House Candidate Eric Kurland

Eric Kurland

 “The right of citizen democracy in Arizona is a founding principle for our state, and never before has that right been so important. When our leadership fails us in nearly every facet of life, from public health to education, it is imperative that the people still have an avenue to enact the change they want to see in our state. This ruling is so condescending that it disrespects the thousands of teachers and other volunteers who have worked tirelessly for years to resolve some of the education funding crisis in Arizona. It also creates a dangerous narrow interpretation of requirements for citizen initiatives that it threatens even the most basic right to citizen democracy. “

 

 

 

Tempe Union High School Candidate Sarah James

Sarah James

 “Article 11, Section 10 of the Arizona Constitution states that “… the legislature shall make such appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions and shall make such special appropriations as shall provide for their development and improvement.” In Arizona, our leadership has turned the very concept of taxation into a dirty word, and as a result, our general fund is unable to sustain a robust public school system. We give more away in corporate tax credits than we bring in from those same corporations – many of whom pay all of $50 per year in taxes to our state. We rely heavily on a regressive sales tax, and as we saw in 2008, we will suffer because of this in the aftermath of this pandemic. Education accounts for almost half of our small general fund, so we cannot simply ask to dedicate more from what we already have. There simply isn’t enough. We need a dedicated funding source for public education and Invest in Ed could do that if the courts let our citizens vote!”

Kyrene School Board Candidate Wanda Kolomyjec

Kyrene School Board Candidate Wanda Kolomyjec.

“Arizona is ranked nearly lowest in the country for funding of public schools. Invest in Ed was a citizen’s initiative to help ease some of the financial pinch by asking Arizonans with an individual income above $250,000 to pay $35 more in taxes for every $1,000 earning above $250,000. As small business owners ourselves, my husband and I are more than happy to pay a bit more taxes in order to support our public schools and I suspect we are not alone. When we reach into the pool of potential employees for our business we hope that our populace is well educated and a good education requires funding. I find it disconcerting that citizen’s initiatives that represent grassroots democratic action are squashed in this state for seemingly trivial reasons. I am thankful for the outstanding effort put forth by the folks who worked tirelessly towards this public good and I stand with them.”

Cave Creek School Board Candidate Jeff Fortney

Jeff Fortney

 “Sadly, and completely without surprise, the courts threw out the Invest in Ed ballot initiative this week.  Needless to say, this is heartbreaking for the thousands of volunteers who worked so hard at collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures – nearly 200,000 more than was needed to officially make the ballot. That extra 200,000 signatures is called “cushion” for the challenges that come after submitting completed petitions.”

“But there is no “cushion” big enough to overcome a directive from the Governor. The court was simply following orders. In his most recent State of the State address, Ducey said, “So let me reiterate what I’ve said in five prior state of the state speeches, and two inaugural addresses – because apparently it bears repeating — no new taxes; not this session, not next session; not here in this chamber, not at the ballot box, not on my watch.” This statement was a direct attack against what he knew was coming. The legislature has repeatedly underfunded public education in Arizona, so the people had to take it upon themselves.  It was very clear what he wanted. And now he got it. Interesting.”

“However, I will add this. The judge’s very condescending words were interesting too. Judge Coury stated that Invest in Ed authors made the exact same mistake this time as last, even after the court had told them how to do it correctly and was ignored. That too would be troubling if true.”

“Sadly, it is the teachers and students that are directly affected by political posturing and gamesmanship. Teachers in Arizona will continue to be underpaid, per-student funding will continue to be at the bottom of the nation. And unless there are drastic changes come November, the legislature will continue to disrespect public education in Arizona.”

Tucson Union School Board Candidate Adam Ragan

Adam Ragan

“I am incredibly disheartened that the Court has seen fit to weigh in on an electoral matter that should be up to Arizonans to decide on November 3. OVer 430,000 Arizonans followed the law and signed a petition to place the Invest in Education Act on the ballot. This lawsuit has been nothing more than an attempt to do in a courtroom what the backers know they can’t do in an open, fair election: convince Arizonans that their flimsy arguments are right. We know the truth. Investing in Education is good for our students, educators and schools. And it’s good for the economy. Arizonans are tired of our schools not being funded. We deserved better than this ruling. And our kids deserved better.”

One thing should be clear to the plutocratic reactionaries that cheered this obtuse ruling.

The forces for quality and well-funded public education will march forward.

Arizona has gone 12 years without a fully funded public education system.

If Invest in Ed loses its appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court, the fight for public education will go on.

It will go on at the ballot box this November with the drive to elect pro-education legislators, county officials, House Representatives, Senator, and President.

It will go on in 2022 with the drive to elect a new pro-education Governor (who will appoint pro-education jurists) and reelect Superintendent Kathy Hoffman.

It will go on with another Invest in Ed type ballot initiative.

The fight will go on until the moment every child gets the quality and well-funded education they deserve, regardless of the zip code they live in.

It will go on until every teacher, principal, and school staff member gets the salary and respect they merit.

The forces of inequity and reactionism can count on the champions for public education not going away.

Their backward agenda is on borrowed time and that time is ticking away while the forces of progressive change ascend and grow stronger.

November 3, 2020, is in 92 days.

The voters need to do their part in the fight for children and educators.

Please remember:

  • Primary Election Day is on August 4, 2020, and General Election Day is on November 3. 2020. Please see the below graphic for all-important voting dates. 
  • Please check your voter registration at vote.
  • Register/sign up for the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) in Arizona or any state that allows early or absentee balloting and mail. Arizona residents can sign up at vote
  • Arizona residents, mail your General Election ballot by October 28, 2020, for the November 3, 2020 election. With recent issues with the Post Office, you should consider mailing them out by October 23, 2020. 
  • Check-in with the Secretary of State’s office where you live to verify your mail-in ballot was received, processed, verified, and counted.
  • Know the voter ID requirements in your state.
  • If you can, support Clean Election Candidates with a small contribution.
  • Also, please remember to stay informed on all the candidates and vote for all the offices on the ballot.
  • Also, remember to research all the ballot initiatives, sign to get them on the ballot if you support the measure, and vote on them as well.

 

 

 

 

 

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