By BOB CHRISTIE Associated Press
PHOENIX (AP) — A judge ruled Friday that a tax on high-income Arizonans to fund education spending that voters approved in 2020 is unenforceable due to a state Supreme Court ruling and ordered that collection is permanently blocked.
The decision means that Proposition 208’s plan to hire more teachers and give educators big raises will not be carried out. There will also be no raises for counselors, bus drivers and other support staff, or cash for teacher training, vocational education and other initiatives.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah’s ruling was widely expected after the Supreme Court ruled in August that the tax was unconstitutional if it placed schools above the legal spending limit. He returned the case to Hannah to make that determination.
Supporters of Proposition 208 and Republican opponents, including the speaker of the House and the president of the Senate, agreed in January that new revenue from the tax on the wealthy would almost certainly drive spending above that threshold.
Hannah wrote that because of the way the Supreme Court directed her to consider the legal issues, she had no choice but to invalidate Proposition 208.
But his ruling also indirectly criticized the high court for its reasoning, noting that while the Legislature retains the power to fix problems with the laws it passes, the ruling removes that opportunity when the people bypass lawmakers to enact their own laws.