Red4ED Is One of the Most Expensive Failures in Arizona Political History

Red4ED Is One of the Most Expensive Failures in Arizona Political History

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

Push a sympathetic message. Drum up a bunch of misguided support. And then aim for a ridiculous tax increase. That was the strategy from Red4ED after it launched a little over four years ago.

In that spring of 2018, the color red was popping up all over the place—from Facebook profile pictures to protests at the state Capitol. And it was supposedly all about increasing teacher salaries and funding for K-12 education. It was a movement that had great momentum, a sycophant media, and a political class that was terrified to stand up to them. Yet they figured out how to, in four short years, go from a political juggernaut to one of the largest and most expensive failures in Arizona political history.

Of course, defeating this multiyear assault on Arizona by Invest in Ed was a huge win for taxpayers, job creators, and the future prosperity of our state. And it would not have been possible without a combination of political miscalculations and blunders by the Red4ED decision makers and a consistent, sustained opposition from key organizations and elected officials willing to stand up to the bullies behind the movement…

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Arizona Supreme Court Clears Three GOP Legislators for Election

Arizona Supreme Court Clears Three GOP Legislators for Election

By Corinne Murdock |

On Monday, the Arizona Supreme Court dismissed claims of insurrection against State Representative Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley) and Congressmen Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) and Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05), ruling them valid candidates for the upcoming election. 

A progressive nonprofit, Free Speech for People, alleged that the three legislators weren’t qualified because they committed insurrection through their actions and speech on January 6, a purported violation of the U.S. Constitution’s “Disqualification Clause”: Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. 

In response to the ruling, Gosar asserted that free speech prevailed against the Democrats. 

Finchem declared that the GOP continued its winning streak with this latest ruling. 

The court agreed with the Maricopa County Superior Court’s ruling from last month. Judge Christopher Coury didn’t entertain whether or not the three lawmakers engaged in insurrection. Rather, the courts agreed that the plaintiffs lacked the ability to enforce it. The Arizona Supreme Court agreed with the superior court’s assessment that the U.S. House of Representatives has the sole authority to determine a candidate’s fitness to serve in Congress. 

“1) Congress has not created a civil practice right of action to enforce the Disqualification Clause, and the criminal statute prohibiting rebellion or insurrection, 18 U.S.C. § 2382, does not authorize the challenge by a private citizen; 2) A.R.S. § 16-351 does not provide a private right of action to argue a candidate is proscribed by law from holding office; 3) it is unnecessary to decide if the Amnesty Act of 1872 is applicable because no private right of action exists under the United States Constitution or Arizona law; 4) the Constitution reserves the determination of the qualifications of members of Congress exclusively to the U.S. House of Representatives; 5) the doctrine of laches is not applicable at this time; 6) Plaintiffs do not satisfy the legal standards for injunctive relief; and 7) there is no need for an advisory trial. Plaintiffs timely appealed.”

The nonprofit that challenged the qualifications of Biggs, Gosar, and Finchem failed in two similar lawsuits against Congressman Madison Cawthorne (R-NC-11) and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA-14). 

In addition to disqualification of the three legislators’ candidacy, Democrats have called for an investigation into their January 6 involvement. 

The leader of the activist movement challenging the results of the 2020 election, Ali Alexander of “Stop the Steal,” named Gosar, Biggs, and Finchem as three individuals who helped him organize the January 6 protest. 

One of the latest actions taken on these claims came last week when the U.S. House’s January 6 Committee requested that Biggs speak with them. 

Biggs refused to cooperate. He compared the committee’s intentions and tactics to those behind the Salem Witch Trials, with former President Donald Trump supporters being the target. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

News Anchor Disparages Integrity Of AZ Supreme Court Justices Over Tax Cut Decision

News Anchor Disparages Integrity Of AZ Supreme Court Justices Over Tax Cut Decision

By Terri Jo Neff |

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Thursday that implementation of the state’s new single or “flat” income tax rate will move forward without a voter referendum in November. But one Phoenix area media personality seemed to suggest that the justices were in on the fix.

Longtime ABC15 anchor Steve Irvin took to Twitter within hours of the justices denying the attempt by Invest In Arizona, a political committee sponsored by Arizona Education Association, to put last year’s income tax reform provisions of Senate Bill 1828 up for a vote by the people. Two provisions of SB1828 replace Arizona’s current four income tax rates (between 2.59 to 4.5 percent) with a singular 2.5 percent rate effective January 2025.

The Court’s decision cited the fact the Arizona Constitution bars a voter referendum on legislative revenue acts involving “the support and maintenance” of the state government. As a result, the lower one-rate-for-all will become the law in 34 months.

Yet despite the $1.9 billion tax cut expected from the reduced tax rate, Irvin used Twitter to question the qualifications of the supreme court’s justices and went on to disparage them for ruling against Invest In Arizona and Arizona Education Association based on the same wording that has been in the Arizona Constitution the last 110 years. 

Irvin was recognized in February by the Arizona Education Association for his coverage of education issues. He contends the income tax reform opposed by the group would have also been rejected by voters in November, even though there is no evidence that Arizona voters under pressures from inflation and other economic challenges would have agreed to continue paying more income taxes than needed to sufficiently cover appropriations.  

Irvin’s tweets also ignored the fact all Arizona income taxpayers will see their tax rate decrease as a result of SB1828. Instead, he focused on the fact “rich people” will benefit from the rate change.

For the last few years, Arizona has experienced large budget surpluses (currently in the billions of dollars). State budget officials have confirmed that an across the board 2.5 percent income tax rate will be enough to fund state operations while leaving more money in the pockets of taxpayers.

READ MORE ABOUT STEVE IRVIN

Arizona Taxpayers Score A Win As New Law Reforming Income Tax Rate Is Upheld

Arizona Taxpayers Score A Win As New Law Reforming Income Tax Rate Is Upheld

By Terri Jo Neff |

In a major victory for millions of Arizonans, the Arizona Free Enterprise Club has prevailed at the Arizona Supreme Court in its attempt to protect a forecasted $1.9 billion tax cut through changes signed into law last year to change Arizona from a four rate income tax structure to a single rate.  

On Thursday, the justices ruled in favor of a lawsuit filed the AFEC and several of its members who sought to ensure two provisions of Senate Bill 1828 related to the new 2.5 percent flat rate income structure goes into effect in January 2025. SB1828 was the omnibus appropriations bill signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey in June 2021. 

The AFEC lawsuit was in response to an effort by the Arizona Education Association sponsored Invest In Arizona to have voters overturn those two provisions in November.

But key to the AFEC’s legal arguments is the Arizona Constitution, which prohibits voter referendums of legislative actions undertaken for “the support and maintenance of the departments of state government and state institutions.” Oral arguments were held at the Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday, during which attorneys Kory Langhofer and Thomas Basile presented AFEC’s position.

On Thursday morning, Mussi took part in an interview with KFYI’s James T. Harris about the efforts to protect the forthcoming tax cuts due to changing to a 2.5 percent flat rate. Mussi told Harris that Tuesday’s arguments at the Arizona Supreme Court  “went well” and that he was optimistic “the justices generally understood what our argument was.”

Mussi did not realize how prescient his observation was, as just a few hours later the justices released their decision siding with AFEC and rejecting the referendum attempt.

The decision under the signature of Chief Justice Robert Brutinel enjoined the Invest In Arizona referendum effort from appearing on the 2022 General Election Ballot. In addition, the decision denied Invest In Arizona’s request for attorneys’ fees.

After the Court’s decision was announced, Mussi called it “a big win for taxpayers” across the state.

“The legislature passed historic tax cuts last year that benefit all Arizona taxpayers,” he added. “It’s time for Invest in Arizona and out-of-state special interest groups to accept this reality and stop making a farce of the referendum process.”

A detailed opinion explaining the legal conclusions made by the justices to form Thursday’s decision will be released in the next few weeks.

Hear Scot Mussi, President of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, discuss the flat tax argument at the Arizona Supreme Court

Arizona Supreme Court Clears Three GOP Legislators for Election

Marana’s Development Fees To Be Heard By Arizona Supreme Court

By Terri Jo Neff |

How to interpret changes enacted in 2011 to Arizona’s development impact fee law will be heard by the Arizona Supreme Court, it was announced last week.

At issue is Arizona Revised Statute 9-463.05 which was amended in 2011 to redefine the circumstances under which a municipality can lawfully assess development impact fees. The Legislature noted its intent that courts would “narrowly” construe a town or city’s  privilege to assess development fees.

Specifically, the 2011 version of ARS 9-463.05 prohibits impact development fees on new residents to pay for “a burden all taxpayers of a municipality should bear equally.”

In 2018, the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association (SAHBA) sued the Town of Marana after town officials spent more than $16 million in 2013 to acquire a water reclamation facility formally operated by Pima County. At the time, the facility only had capacity to serve current residents.

Marana then spent more than $17.5 million as part of a multi-phase Capital Improvement Project (CIP) to expand, upgrade, and modernize the facility, including compliance with environmental regulations.  20-year bonds were issued to cover the costs, with bond payments coming from impact fees charged on new homes and other development projects.

SAHBA’s lawsuit contends the expansion of the water reclamation facility and other upgrades undertaken as part of the project benefitted all existing residents as well as new residents. As a result, much of the impact fees violated ARS 9-463.05, the lawsuit argued.  

The town, however, contended there was already sufficient water resources and wastewater treatment capacity to serve existing residents. It only acquired the Water Reclamation Facility and expanded the facility in order “to meet the needs” of future development, town attorney’s argued.

Marana also argued the project was developed “over years of careful consideration” by engineers, consultants, the public, and the Town Council. SAHBA was among the stakeholders involved in a planning process which started years earlier but took no action until 2018, according to town attorneys.

A Pima County judge and later the Arizona Court of Appeals sided with Marana’s position. Attorneys for the town later argued that review by the Arizona Supreme Court is “unwarranted” because the two lower court ruling were rightly decided.

“The trial court and the court of appeals evaluated whether the Town’s impact fee ordinances met the statutory requirements under A.R.S. § 9-463.05,” Marana’s response stated. “Both courts held the statutory requirements were met.”

But on April 5, the Arizona Supreme Court announced it will take up the case later this year, representing the first time the amended law will be subjected to review by the justices. The questions to be addressed during oral arguments are:

  • Did Marana violate A.R.S § 9-463.05 by making future development bear 100 percent of the cost of acquiring the Facility?
  • Did Marana violate the same statute by making future development bear nearly all of the cost of upgrading, modernizing, and improving the Facility?
  • Did Marana further violate the statute by failing to take into account what could or could not be included in development fees under that statute, and by failing to make any proportionate allocation of costs between existing and future development?

The Home Builders Association of Central Arizona, which is a trade association representing nearly 500 member companies engaged in residential construction and development, filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in support of SAHBA’s case.