Legislators and the Secretary of State are trying prevent Arizonans from voting
on the Quality Education and Jobs Initiative to protect education from further legislative cuts.
Anti-education politicians and the lobbyists who control them dislike this measure
spearheaded by a volunteer-led coalition of parents, students, educators and business leaders.
They dislike it because it renews the one-cent sales tax but forces the Legislature
to spend those dollars on education. They are offended by the idea that taxpayers could
actually determine how their own tax dollars are spent.
That's why they've trumped up a hyper-technicality to try to keep Prop. 204 – Quality
Education and Jobs off the ballot.
When Secretary of State Ken Bennett took his case to the courts, a Maricopa County Judge
told Bennett's attorney, "I honestly don't see that we needed to be here." After a 25-minute hearing
in which he questioned whether Bennett's decision was "arbitrary and capricious," the judge overturned
Bennett's determination, saying that he had "thwarted the potential will" of voters.
That ruling didn't stop Bennett from appealing, even though he had promised voters he would not.
Now, joining him in his appeal are the House and Senate legislative leaders, who
submitted legal briefs arguing that the Arizona Supreme Court should throw
the measure off the ballot.
When our founders drafted the Constitution 100 years ago, giving Arizonans the right to direct democracy,
they envisioned these very shenanigans by politicians.
That's why the framers were explicitly clear: Neither the legislative nor the executive branch
can usurp the people's constitutional right to direct democracy by initiative. They can't enact
laws or make decisions that interfere with that right.
Although education supporters submitted ballot text electronically that identically matched the text
on all the petitions, Bennett decided that a paper copy with two missing paragraphs was the "official" copy,
even though the law doesn't state that only a paper version is official. Bennett said he made that
determination because that's just the way it's always been done, disregarding the Arizona Constitution
and state law.
This entire incident only illuminates the need for the Quality Education and Jobs Initiative, which will
take politics out of education funding. It will provide needed resources for our children's classrooms as well as
fund scholarships to help the families of university and community college students afford skyrocketing
tuition costs caused by legislative budget cuts.
The voters have spoken. More than 290,000, a historic number, signed the petition to place this on the ballot.
Their signatures count!