Arizona has two major problems with the way ballot measures are initiated and approved.
One of those problems is that any individual or group of individuals with a lot of money may hire professional signature gatherers to convince voters to sign petitions, often using misleading arguments. Then the same individual or group of individuals may dump millions of dollars into a campaign to obtain favorable votes, using the same deceptive techniques. That is what is happening with two of the five propositions on the ballot this year, Props 126 and 127. For that reason, among others, they should be defeated.
The other problem is that well-meaning individuals often end up initiating and enacting measures that were not very well thought out and we end up with voter protected bad laws that are nearly impossible to correct, unless we can muster support for ballot measures aimed at correcting previous mistakes. That is what is happening with Pops 125 and 306. Both of these measures should be approved by the voters.
Prop 305 is somewhat unique because it is nothing more than a political ploy by the Save Our Schools organization to extract from the voters a vote of no confidence on parental school choice. Folks who favor enhancement of parental school choice should vote yes on Prop 305.
Proposition 125 – Vote Yes
Allows for adjustments to the Elected Officials’ Retirement Plan and Corrections Officer Retirement Plan
- Aimed at correcting a previous ballot measure that has made it impossible to react to changing economic conditions.
- Mostly housekeeping, allowing legislature to make changes in the pension program to keep it from going bankrupt.
- Failure to approve Prop 125 will prevent the changes that need to be made to keep these programs solvent.
Proposition 306 – Vote Yes
Prohibits the transfer of clean elections moneys from candidates to political parties and other special interest organizations
- Political candidates’ misuse of funds is bad enough when it involves funds collected from contributors. It should be criminal to misuse funds that were extracted from tax payers.
- Under current clean elections rules, candidates can sign up for clean elections funding, collect the required $5 contributions, and then withdraw from race and transfer the clean elections funds to their favorite political party or special interest group.
- That money laundering practice must be stopped by voting YES on Prop 306.
- When voters approved the clean elections system, they intended to give new candidates and underdogs a fighting chance. It was not their intention that public funds be used to enrich political parties.
- A YES vote on this measure is a vote in favor of restoring the initial intentions of the AZ voters regarding public financing of political campaigns.
Proposition 126 – Vote No
Prohibits the government from increasing taxes on services in the future
- This is a case of corporate welfare affirmative action. The only difference is that it is based on the type of business instead of race, gender, etc.
- Most citizens tend to resist tax increases, but Prop 126 does nothing to prevent tax increases overall. It merely limits or prohibits taxation of certain business transactions and not others.
- It is a well-known fact that when some sectors of the economy are exempt from taxation, governments will simply pile taxation on sectors that are not exempt.
- If the real purpose of Prop 126 is to protect citizens from future tax increases, the language should read something like this, “The overall tax level of taxation from all sources shall not be higher than X percent of AZ’s gross domestic product”.
- Arizonans are already protected by the requirement that tax increases must be approved by a 2/3 supermajority in both chambers of the legislature.
- There is no definition of what constitutes a “service”. Well connected businesses could get away with calling almost any transaction a service, thus conveniently gaming the system to avoid their share of the taxation pie.
- If passed, Prop 126 will torpedo permanently any effort by future legislatures to ease individual tax burdens by widening the tax base.
- While some services may be worthy of taxation exemption, not all services are equally worthy.
- Prop 126 is clearly aimed at benefiting one particular industry, evidenced by the fact that the AZ Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors are spending a combined $6,100,000 (*) to promote a yes vote on Prop 126
Proposition 127 – Vote No
Requires 50 percent of energy to come from renewable sources by 2030
- Harsh measure, not needed. AZ utilities, responding to regulations and market forces, have been gradually shifting to renewable energy sources. Prop 127, if enacted, will torpedo that effort.
- Permanent and inflexible constitutional amendment is bad idea. If we are going to adopt the Marxist model of dictating how corporations do business, it should be done via regulation and legislation, both of which may be reversed when they do not work. With a constitutional amendment we are stuck regardless of consequences.
- Uneven application of the law. It affects only private utilities. Government backed utilities like SRP are not affected.
- Renewables are not dependable. We still need electric power when the sun goes down, on cloudy days, and when winds are calm. Wind and solar make sense when they complement other sources, but it is absurd to depend on them for 50% of our energy production.
- This is a very expensive exercise in socialism. Storing solar and wind energy to use when those sources have to be idle is a very expensive endeavor. The expense goes beyond dollars because production of storage batteries is also expensive in terms of resources, pollution, and emission of greenhouse gases.
- It will cause utility rates to skyrocket. The higher rates will affect more than household electricity rates. Almost every good and service we use requires electricity to produce. The higher costs will be passed on to consumers.
- The YES on Prop 127 campaign is being financed, at the tune of $8,257.000 (*) by California billionaire Tom Steyer, whose three goals are to sell solar equipment, turn AZ into a blue state, and get rid of Trump.
- What about Palo Verde? Our state is proud to have the greatest electricity producer in the U. S., if not in the world. It produces electricity at a reasonable cost, does not pollute, works day and night and on windy and calm days. Adoption of Prop 127 will force a drastic reduction in Palo Verde’s production, effectively turning it into a stranded asset that will have to be disposed of by its operator. Shutting down and dismantling Palo Verde will cost us, the rate payers many millions of dollars.
Proposition 305 – Vote Yes
Upholds SB 1431, expanding Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program
A YES vote means we keep SB1431. A NO vote means we veto SB1431
- The provisions of SB1431 are so miniscule that under normal circumstances no one would even notice that they are in effect. But the Save Our Schools and their accomplices are hell bent on denying AZ parents any hint of school choice via a NO vote on Prop 305
- When it comes to the overall K-12 education scene, SB1431 is not even a drop in a bucket. It is more like a drop in an Olympic size pool. The number of students allowed to participate is limited to ½ of one percent of the student population, roughly 5,000 students per year. The total limit is 30,000 students, regardless of how much the student population increases. Only 90% of the state funding per pupil follows the student. The district keeps all other funding, federal, county, and 5% of the state funding. (The other 5% of state funding goes to the ADE for administration expenses.)
- A case can be made that school districts benefit from SB1431 because it would allow them to educate fewer students with more money, providing an increase in per pupil funding and a reduction in classroom size. Again, the amounts involved are so small that no one would notice, but is should be clear that SB1431 will not hurt school districts.
- Some school choice advocates may erroneously be tempted to vote NO on the assumption that repealing SB1431 will wipe the slate clean and allow the legislature to come up with a much better bill. The fallacy of this line of thinking lies on the fact that we do not have a senate that will allow any kind of significant school choice legislation to advance. Currently we have three Republican senators that will join Democrats in torpedoing any such legislation. When the legislature convenes in January the number of never-choice Republican senators will increase from three to four.
- Regardless of the Prop 305 outcome, there will not be any substantial improvement in parental school choice in AZ until some of the never-choicers in the senate are replaced, which is not likely to happen in the foreseeable future.
- Here is the most relevant question to ask regarding Prop 305. Considering that SB1431 will not have a significant adverse effect on district schools, and could possibly have a positive effect, why is the radical Save Our Schools organization spending $307,000 (*) promoting a NO vote on Prop 305? The answer is that it is simple politics. A NO on Prop 305 will allow the SOS and their accomplices to claim that the voters in AZ do not want school choice. This would further hinder any future efforts at implementing substantial parental school choice.
- Folks who favor school choice should vote YES on Prop 305. Keeping SB1431 in spite of its limitations will at least serve as a modest pilot program that will provide valuable real world input regarding what is good and what is bad about this program. This information will be valuable in charting school choice policy (outside of SB1431 and the ESA program) if and when we have a more choice-friendly legislature.
(*) Information taken from AZ Ballotpedia and easily verified with the AZSOS website.