In ballot proposition results, Gila County voters echoed statewide outcomes with a mostly extra-conservative twist, including rejection of a sales tax for education, a bid to takeover federal lands and a measure to radically transform partisan primaries.
A whopping 71 percent of Gila County voters opposed perhaps the most controversial measure — a bid to extend an existing one-cent sales tax with most of the money earmarked for education. Statewide, voters rejected Proposition 204 by 65 percent to 35 percent.
Gila County voters also decisively rejected Prop. 120, a measure authored by Legislative District 6 Rep. Chester Crandell that would have granted state sovereignty over the forests and other natural resources.
Gila County voters rejected the proposition by a margin of 63 to 37 percent, compared to the statewide ratio of 68 to 32 percent.
Crandell, however, handily won his bid for state senate in the district.
The local tally on ballot measures includes:
Prop. 114: Protection from lawsuits for crime victims
YES: 79 percent; NO: 21 percent
YES: 80 percent; NO: 20 percent
Voters overwhelmingly approved added protection from lawsuits for crime victims, the outgrowth of a Tucson case in which a woman sued a supermarket security guard who had subdued her husband, a shoplifter who later died of his injuries. A 1993 state law protected people from lawsuits filed by someone committing a felony, but the Arizona Court of Appeals overturned that law on constitutional grounds in 2006.
Prop. 115: JUDICIAL SELECTION
YES: 23 percent; NO: 77 percent
YES: 27 percent; NO: 73 percent
Voters rejected a measure that would have given the governor and lawmakers more say in selecting judges in Pima and Maricopa Counties, as well as state appellate and Supreme Court judges. The measure would have curtailed the role of merit selection panels to recruit and review candidates for judgeships before forwarding to the governor three names for each position.
Prop. 116: REDUCTION IN BUSINESS PROPERTY TAX
YES: 45 percent; NO: 55 percent
YES: 44 percent; NO: 56 percent
Voters narrowly rejected a proposal to reduce business taxes on things like machinery and office furniture. The measure would have raised the exemption from property taxes for such items from $68,000 to $2.5 million, which the Joint Legislative Budget Committee concluded would have shifted about $8.2 million annually from businesses to homes.
Prop. 117: LIMITS ON PROPERTY TAXES
YES: 58 percent; NO: 42 percent
YES: 57 percent; NO: 43 percent
Voters liked the idea of slapping a 5-percent annual limit on how much the assessed value of a piece of property can increase, a measure that would limit revenue for schools, towns, counties and fire districts should the housing market recover. The measure greatly simplifies the assessment system which now features both “full cash value” and “limited property value” and can increase by as much as 10 percent annually.
Prop. 118: STABILIZING STATE TRUST LANDS PAYOUTS FOR SCHOOLS
YES: 52 percent; NO: 48 percent
YES: 50 percent; NO: 50 percent
With 600,000 provisional and early ballots still uncounted statewide, Prop. 118 remains up in the air. The measure would require the state land trust to turn over to schools 2.5 percent of the average market value of the fund annually. Money in the fund comes from selling state-owned land, which is earmarked for schools. Average payouts from the fund vary wildly, ranging from $78 million in 2012 to nothing in 2010. The change would result in payouts of $60 to $80 million annually, which mostly goes to K-12 schools, but also benefits universities, state hospitals and schools for the deaf and blind.
Prop. 119: LAND SWAPS FOR MILITARY BASES
YES: 63 percent; NO: 37 percent
YES: 62 percent; NO: 38 percent
Voters gave strong support for a measure that would change constitutional provisions that require the state to use the nine millions of acres of land it owns to benefit education. That provision prevents the state from selling or leasing or trading land to help military bases, based on two independent appraisals.
Prop. 120: State control over federal land
YES: 37 percent; NO: 63 percent
YES: 32 percent; NO: 68 percent
Voters decisively rejected this change in the Arizona constitution that would have attempted to revoke the terms of statehood by declaring the state’s “sovereign and exclusive authority and jurisdiction over the air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within its boundaries.” Proponents said it would enable the state to seize and make uses of federal lands in the state. Proponents said federal courts would declare the measure unconstitutional and the state couldn’t effectively manage 45 million acres of federal land anyway.
Prop. 121: open primaries for top-two vote getters
YES: 33 percent; NO: 66 percent
YES: 33 percent; NO: 67 percent
Finally — something the Republican and Democratic parties agreed on. Both parties fought against a measure intended to open up party primaries in hopes of reducing political polarization. The measure would have enabled the top-two vote getters in the primaries to advance to the general election — even if they are from the same party. Proponents said that in lopsided districts, the system would help moderate candidates survive the primary for either party and make it into the general election. Moreover, it would have reduced the influence of party labels in things like local county races, for instance sheriff and supervisor. Opponents maintained it would weaken the existing parties while also making it unlikely third party candidates would ever make it into the top two and so appear on the general election ballot. Former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson spearheaded the effort, hoping to reduce extremism in state politics. A last-minute flush of $600,000 from the still mysterious Americans for Responsible Leadership committee helped seal the fate of the measure.
Prop. 204: Sales tax for education
YES: 29 percent; NO: 71 percent
YES: 35 percent; NO: 65 percent
Voters rejected this proposal to extend the one-cent sales tax increase voters approved two years ago, with most of the money earmarked for public schools. Education advocates put the $1 billion tax proposal on the ballot after the Legislature diverted most of the existing levy into the general fund while cutting billions from K-12 education. Proponents said only a designated tax would boost state spending on schools from 50th nationwide. Opponents said the state already has one of the highest sales tax rates in the country and the measure would tie the hands of the Legislature.
The current one-cent sales tax expires next year, which will create a billion-dollar shortfall in the state budget.