On Thursday, surrounded by children playing, Arizona Treasurer Jeff Dewit held a press conference at a children’s-style pizza parlor outlining the multiple reasons why he does not support Prop 123. “I have been very disappointed by the tactics used by proponents of Prop 123, and how they have pushed the bill,” began DeWit.
DeWit continued, “In fact, if they were a private business they could be sued for fraud; with fraudulent advertising. They say it will not raise taxes. Prop 123 does, in fact, raise property taxes. They say it is more money for teachers – Prop 123 has no requirement that any of the money goes to teachers. So we need a better plan.
DeWit then laid out his plan based the fact that Arizona is flush. DeWit argues that because revenues are high, there is no need to risk the State Land Trust Fund. He said the State’s surplus could be used to fund schools – even up to double the amount provided by Prop 123 – or fund prisons instead of schools.
Ducey, a darling of the private prison industry appears to be choosing prisons.
Some in the private sector have been pouring money into Ducey’s scheme. They have gone so far as to bring in campaign forces from out of state, and hire the likes of Sam Stone to wine and dine Republican Party activists, as part of the effort to enlist foot soldiers for the cause.
Those particular tactics may be the subject of an inquiry attorney Tom Ryan will be making of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich as to whether Ducey and company have illegally offered inducements to voters.
Many Republicans who had come out in favor of Prop 12 initially, after learning of the fine financial shape of the state, now silently oppose the proposition. Unlike DeWit, who has been willing to stand up to the governor and his deep-pocketed supporters and notoriously vicious staff, Republican lawmakers are afraid of incurring Ducey’s wrath. As a result, DeWit has earned kudos from Democrat leaders and Republican grassroots, while being subjected to childish and ugly attacks and intimidation from the governor’s minions.
Prop 123 was crafted by Ducey before he was aware of the State’s good financial health in an effort to settle a lawsuit over school funding. Because of its failings, Prop 123 is expected to spur more lawsuits.