We’ve seen some epic screw-ups in our time, but the latest one with the income tax petitions takes the cake.
270,000 signatures with a high validation rate gathered by thousands of volunteers were invalidated by the Arizona Supreme Court yesterday with one stroke of the pen.
Why? Because the people who drafted the language were incompetent. They made some very serious mistakes.
Which leads to the questions: Who drafted this language? And who signed off on it?
This is a real problem for Joe Thomas, the head of the AZ Teachers’ Union. He’s been instrumental in pulling this together. The organizational achievement was impressive. The stupidity behind the language error, however, is mind-boggling.
It’s clear the drafters of the language had no idea what they were doing.
When the petition language was first submitted to the secretary of state’s office, it contained a provision that essentially instituted collective bargaining for teachers, which is a bridge way-too-far in Arizona. The business community jumped on it, and within a day the language was withdrawn, amended, and resubmitted with the offending language removed.
That should have been a warning sign.
During the course of the recent legal challenges, it’s clear the drafters had no clue what they had done. In August Bob Robb in the Republic wrote a damning column https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/robertrobb/2018/08/08/invest-ed-judge-rule-inflation-indexing-income-tax-education/926556002/ entitled “Rule on What We Intended, Not What We Actually Wrote.”
It turns out the tax increase that was supposed to hit only the rich wound up hitting everyone! Tax indexing was repealed, pushing everyone (over time) into higher brackets, and the law was made retro-active to the brackets of 2014.
These were holes that the “no” campaign would have driven a truck through.
For these and other reasons, it’s likely Prop 207 would have been defeated. And given that this was a genuine, grassroots effort with real people and real volunteers gathering the signatures, it probably should have been allowed to be on the ballot so voters could have decided its fate.
Which brings us back to the original question. Who wrote the language for this monstrosity? Clearly they were incompetent, and millions in dollars and man-hours have been wasted because this thing was flawed at conception.
Protesters are headed to the AZ Supreme Court to protest the decision. Their ire is misplaced. Judges make legal decisions – that’s what they do. The flaws in this were so bad the Court had no real option other than to tank it.
Instead, the protesters should look for the lawyer/law firm that drafted it. And maybe over to the AZ Education Association offices to ask Joe Thomas why he wasted everyone’s time (and money) by not doing his homework in the first place.
As always, there should be accountability in education. Too often there isn’t. Let’s find out who’s responsible for this debacle and hold them accountable. Is that asking too much?