There is, as EJ Montini headlined in an oped yesterday (August 19, 2021,) an Arizona Republican war on children. This is in addition to their separate wars on science, reality, economic sanity, and Democracy.

Over the last several months, their operatives in the Legislature, the Governor’s office, and the Arizona Supreme Court have:

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  • Opted to not spend $12 million to expand KidsCare for poor children. They did decide to spend five million dollars on funding cash winnings for racehorse owners and jockey winners.
  • Enacted laws to prohibit the wearing of masks in schools to stem the spread of COVID 19, playing Coronavirus Roulette with the health and lives of children, especially those under 12 years old. The politically coward Mr. Ducey has even announced grant programs encouraging school districts and families to promote unsafe practices and spread the Coronavirus.
  • Passed tax cut laws to protect the ultra-wealthy from paying the 3.5 percent surcharge to partially fund the Invest in Ed-Proposition 208 coffers.
  • As AZ Blue Meanie reported yesterday, the Arizona Supreme Court has provided a path to gut the funding of Proposition 208 by stating, despite past rulings to the contrary, that the grant language contained in the proposition, because it is a tax on their friends, the ultra-wealthy, does not make it eligible for exemption from legislative spending caps.

Of course, following the Arizona Supreme Court ruling, the leading Republicans in Arizona were dancing on the social media streets.

Mr. Ducey posted:

Senate President Karen Cyber Ninja Sham Audit Fann also posted:

Superintendent Hoffman and Invest in Arizona Coalition React to Arizona Supreme Court Ruling.

Meanwhile in the part of the Grand Canyon State that cares about children…

Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman blasted Republicans who salivated after the Supreme Court Ruling, posting:

The Invest in Arizona Coalition, a group that includes the organizations Arizona Education Association, Stand for Children Arizona, Children’s Action Alliance, Arizona Center for Economic Progress, Arizona Interfaith Network, and is now joined by Save Our Schools, and Friends of the Arizona School Boards Association, issued its own response to the Arizona Supreme Court Ruling.

It is reprinted in its entirety below.

“INVEST IN ARIZONA (FORMERLY INVEST IN ED) DECRIES POLITICALLY MOTIVATED, CYNICAL ARIZONA SUPREME COURT RULING AGAINST PROP 208; DEMANDS GOVERNOR CALL IMMEDIATE SPECIAL SESSION TO PREVENT PERMANENTLY UNDERFUNDED ARIZONA SCHOOLS 

In a destructive, politically motivated decision related to the state’s outdated education funding cap, the Arizona State Supreme Court issued a ruling that, barring legislative action, essentially requires a lower court to overturn Prop 208, undercuts Prop 301, and guarantees Arizona schools will be permanently underfunded.   

The Ducey-packed Court’s cynical and contradictory decision undermines the will of 1.7 million voters, ignores previous court precedent, and leaves the trial court with no discretion in deciding the constitutionality of Prop 208.  

The Invest in Arizona Coalition demands Governor Ducey immediately call a special session of the legislature to remove the archaic education spending cap at the heart of the flawed ruling. 

(PHOENIX) – Today, in a ruling that reeked of partisan politics and cronyism, the Arizona Supreme Court went out of its way to strike down Prop 208 – Invest in Ed, while forcing the lower court to do its dirty work. The measure, which was passed by 1.7 million Arizona voters in November, would raise nearly a billion dollars annually in K-12 education funding to help address the state’s longstanding teacher shortage crisis, lower class sizes, hire aides and counselors, and expand career and technical education.  

On April 20, the court heard oral arguments in the case brought by a small group of political opponents of Prop 208 – Invest in Ed who represent ultra-wealthy Arizonans as an end-run around the citizen initiative process simply because they opposed the outcome of an election. Now, the Supreme Court, which is comprised almost entirely of Governor Ducey’s appointees, has agreed to further the interests of the minority over the majority.  

At issue in the case is the definition of a “grant” to school districts. Prop 208 – Invest in Ed used the exact language passed by voters via Prop 301 in 2000 which established a sales tax and provides about $300 million to schools each year. Yet, when deciding the law passed by the voters, the Court assumed that the legislature would not raise the education expenditure limit, which it has already done numerous times for measures passed by the legislature – as recently as 2020. In fact, the legislature will have to raise it again by March 2022 in order for school districts to spend Prop 301 funds.  

In addition, although Prop 208 – Invest in Ed made it clear that voters intended any provision found unconstitutional could be “severed” from the full law in order to make it implementable, the court reversed previous decisions to justify that in this case, the grant issue was not severable. In her dissent regarding severability, Judge Timmer stated, “Today’s decision marks a departure from our previous decisions.” (ital. added) 

“This is a punch in the gut to 1.1 million students and their families, and 55,000 hardworking Arizona educators – and a slap in the face to the 1.7 million voters that voted for this funding to flow to schools. They voted for it to be a grant, and to be severable. The Ducey-packed Court had an opportunity to honor voters and uphold the rule of law, but instead, they issued a legally contradictory, politically motivated, manipulatively crafted ruling,” said Rebecca Gau, Executive Director of Stand for Children Arizona. 

Joe Thomas, President of the Arizona Education Association added: “Today’s decision not only negates the will of the voters to raise Arizona’s school spending from among the lowest in the nation but without legislative action it jeopardizes existing Arizona school revenue sources like Prop 301 and would lead to permanently underfunded Arizona schools – and a weaker Arizona economy.” 

The coalition calls upon Governor Ducey and the legislature to immediately raise the expenditure limit or eliminate it.  The limit will have to be raised by March 2022 for schools to spend currently appropriated funds, including Prop 301.  

“We were worried the Court would bow to political pressure from the Executive and Legislative branches, rather than act impartially and remain independent. This is exactly what happened. This ruling is a political act, undermining the will of the voters and doing the bidding of politicians. But they have not stopped our commitment to education funding, addressing the teacher shortage, building stronger schools and a stronger economy” said coalition partner David Lujan, CEO of Children’s Action Alliance. 

“Our children, who have been through a tumultuous year with the pandemic and represent one of many vulnerable populations in Arizona, need the support of our communities right now – including our elected officials. Now is the time for our governor and legislators to raise the expenditure limit – if not eliminate it altogether – and to protect our students. For leaders of today to be good stewards of the Arizona of the future requires that we invest in the education of our children now,” said Reverend Hunter Ruffin, Rector at Church of the Epiphany in Tempe and a leader with the Arizona Interfaith Network. 

The Prop 208 – Invest in Education campaign, which accomplished a historic election win at the ballot box last November, is now Invest in Arizona. The new coalition includes the original members – Arizona Education Association, Stand for Children Arizona, Children’s Action Alliance, Arizona Center for Economic Progress, Arizona Interfaith Network, and is now joined by Save Our Schools, and Friends of the Arizona School Boards Association. The coalition is committed to keeping up the fight to ensure that Arizona students have a bright future by gathering signatures right now to overturn massive tax cuts for the wealthy enacted this year. Visit www.investinaznow.com to learn more. “

Save Our Schools Arizona, a member of the Invest in Arizona Coalition issued a separate statement:

Moving Forward

The Invest in Arizona and Arizona Deserves Better Coalitions continue working to gather petition signatures to get initiatives on the 2022 ballot to repeal the Republican voter suppression measures, the ill-advised flat tax cuts for the wealthy, and a carve-out for the ultra-wealthy to qualify as small businesses to avoid paying into Proposition 208.

When asked by this writer if the Invest in Arizona Coalition would consider crafting a new education funding initiative if the lower courts declare Invest in Ed unconstitutional, Rebecca Gau of Stand for Children Arizona commented:

“We are considering various options. Of course, the simplest solution is for the Governor and the Legislature to honor the will of voters and say they will raise the limit as they did in the past.”

Unfortunately, that option may very well be necessary.

Arizona residents who care about what happens to children need to stay engaged and fight the Republican war on children and Democracy.

Invest in Ed-Proposition 208 was passed with the support of the majority of Arizonans.

Public schools need the funds from Proposition 208 to better serve Arizona’s children.

ACT NOW!

Sign the petitions that will get the repeal of Republican tax-cutting and voter suppression measures on the ballot.

Support candidates that favor programs like Invest in Ed and KidsCare that will benefit the most vulnerable, including the Grand Canyon state’s children.

Most important. Vote in 2022 and 2024.

Democracy and social justice survive when its champions, the people, show up and vote to move the state and the people forward.

Do your part as an active citizen and show the enemies of the People and Democracy that they will not win.

 

 

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