Propping up Arizona

By PARKER BROCK

 

The propositions that will be on the ballot will be proposing new laws, and amendments to the state constitution will have lasting effects on the state’s economy and revenue generation.

The general election, which will take place Nov. 6, will have five propositions. Here’s a guide most of the propositions to make an informed decision on which proposition to vote for. Proposition 305

This would initiate state Senate Bill 1431, which passed in 2017 and would increase the amount of recipients eligible to receive an empowerment scholarship account.

This voucher system would affect predominantly low-income students from kindergarten through Grade 12.

The account would allow for spending toward “tuition, textbooks, educational therapies, tutoring, or other qualified forms of instructional assistance at a private or home-based school in an amount equal to 90 percent of the allotted funding that otherwise would have been allocated to the student’s public school district or charter school” according to A.R.S. § 19-111.

“It is a massive expansion of an unaccountable, irresponsible voucher program that defunds the public schools our state relies on and it fails to show that our tax dollars are being well spent.” Beth Lewis, Co-founder of Save Our Schools Arizona said.

Arguments against the proposition say funding designated for public schools should not go into private schools, predominantly religious institutions.

“Those in favor of Prop. 305 are exploiting our children to crack open the funding door for private religious education.” Susan Edwards, Parent of two children utilizing ESA funding.

“Proposition 305 is an initiative that takes desperately needed funds away from our public schools.” Beth Simek, President of the Arizona PTA.

Voting no on Prop 305 would keep the existing rules concerning the scholarship accounts.

“Allowing public tax dollars to fund private schools that discriminate by hand selecting the student demographic doesn’t help Arizona’s future.” Simek said.

Proposition 306

Voting “Yes” on would prevent Arizona candidates from transfering funds received for their political campaigns in the form of public donations to political parties or tax-exempt organizations that seek to influence elections.

It also will “subject the Citizens Clean Elections Commission’s rulemaking procedures to the regulatory oversight that applies to other state agencies by repealing the Commission’s exemption from the Administrative Procedures Act,” according to H.C.R. 2007.

This would mean that political campaigns would not be allowed to use public donations to affect elections outside their own campaign.

Voting “No” would allow the Citizens Clean Elections Commision to determine whether political campaigns would be permitted to transfer public donations; it also would retain the current rules regarding the Administrative Procedures Act.

“This will allow a totally partisan entity, appointed only by the Governor, to oversee the Commission’s rule making, thus removing its independence.” Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona argued against the proposition.

Proponents say the stated goal is to keep political campaign transparent in regard to public funding to ensure donors funds are only used for the campaign they permitted.

The following propositions, if passed, would make alterations to the Arizona state constitution.

           Proposition 125

This three-pronged proposition would give the state the ability to adjust pensions for corrections officers and elected official retirees to financially stabilize the current pension system.

It would also “plan changes for newly hired corrections officers including the replacement of the current permanent benefit increase with a cost-of-living adjustment tied to inflation and transition to a defined contribution system,” according H.C.R. 2032.

Last, it would ensure that elected officials retirees receive guaranteed cost-of-living adjustments tied to inflation.

With the current average salary of Arizona legislators being $24,000, according to Ballotpedia, this would allow retirees to receive enough to retire on.

If this proposition fails to pass, it would maintain current benefit rules regarding corrections officers and elected officials.

           Proposition 126

If Proposition 126 passes, it would prohibit the state and local governments from proposing or instating any new or increased taxes on services that were not already imposed by the end of the 2017.

If the proposition fails to pass, it would maintain state and local governments’ ability to suggest and impose new or increased taxes on services.

The argument for the proposition states that new taxes hurt all Arizonans and the state already generates enough revenue. (Proposition 126) ”protects those who are least able to afford new taxes” Holly Mabery of Citizens for Fair Tax Policy said.

Arguments for the proposition say any new tax would hurt low-income and middle-income Arizonans the most, according to the arguments for the proposition, or C-05-2018.

The main opposition to the proposition comes from The Grand Canyon Institute, a nonprofit, centrist think tank. GCI’s four main arguments against the proposition.

“The Arizona legislature has reduced taxes by more than $4 billion over the last 25 years leading to higher K-12 class sizes, rising challenges to recruit and retain teachers, underfunding services for our most vulnerable children, and preventing investments in children before they reach school age.”

GCI also points out the safeguards already in place to prevent the state from imposing sales taxes: “Either a two-thirds vote from both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s signature or a legislative referral or citizen initiative to voters where voters decide is necessary.”

The final argument is that tax policy belongs in statute, not as an amendment to the state Constitution. According to GCI, “Policymakers need the flexibility to evaluate revenue options. Enough safeguards exist.”

If it passes, this vote will affect the state’s ability to attain funding.

Proposition 127

Proposition 127 would replace the state’s current plan for increasing renewable energy with a new mandate.

This would require electric utilities to increase their usage of certain renewable energies, that being wind, solar and post-1997 hydropower, to 50 percent by 2030.

The current plan increases use of renewable energy from 8 percent this year to 15 percent in 2025, according to Arizona Clean Elections.

Arguments against the proposition state that it would greatly increase energy costs for Arizonans, accusing Tom Steyer, founder of Nextgen America, a left leaning voter advocacy group, of trying to impose harsh regulations on Arizona.

Aztec Press had accepted ad space by Nextgen America.

Opposition predict that the proposition could potentially raise cost by an average of $1,200 per year.

“This is a power play by wealthy California interests that see our state as an easy target for their liberal ideas,” said Scot Mussi, president of Arizona Free Enterprise Club, in arguments against Proposition 127.

Those in favor of the proposition propose that it will be an overall boon for the state. While Arizona ranks as one of the sunniest states, only 6 percent of Arizona’s energy comes from solar, Mussi said.

Alejandra Gomez of Clean Energy For A Healthy Arizona, the main sponsor of the proposition, states in arguments for the proposition it would lower energy bills.

“Over the last five years, solar jobs grew nine times faster than the overall economy,” Gomez said.

Proposition 127 has become the costliest proposition in Arizona history, with NextGen America having donated $17.6 million in support. Arizona Public Service co, the state’s largest electric utility, has surpassed that with $21.8 million to combat the proposition. Both figures are according to AZcentral.

Regardless of political orientation, the proposition will have a large, lasting impact on Arizona.

Make sure to cast an informed vote and seriously consider what you choose to support.

 

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