Proposition 204 (“Permanent Sales Tax Increase, Education & Transportation”) is NOT the same temporary tax that is in place now and that will expire in 2013. This is a whole new tax with many changes written into the initiative.
Prop. 204 is very dangerous, because it changes our constitutional form of government that requires the Legislature to appropriate the tax dollars. The tax in place now did not make constitutional changes. Prop. 204 decreases the power of the people by taking away their vote to check the Legislature in the budgeting process. If Prop. 204 passes, it will be nearly impossible for the Legislature to change the sales tax rate, one of the highest in the nation, in the future.
Our national economic future is uncertain. Congress is wrestling with their $1.4 trillion budget deficit and the $16 trillion debt, and has passed a budget reduction bill that will cut aid to the state by 9 percent in 2013. The Arizona Legislature, which is elected by the people and accountable to the people, will need the ability more than ever to appropriate our tax dollars in the best interest of the public’s welfare and safety to keep all state responsibilities functioning.
In addition to the significant structural change in our management of tax money, Prop. 204 also has language written into the bill stipulating that the Legislature cannot reduce education funding from the 2012 levels going forward. This is reckless, considering that school enrollment can go up or down, and education funding should reflect that reality.
The proposition also has language that gives the Arizona Department of Transportation millions of dollars that can’t be touched and yet there is no reduction in the state gasoline tax that citizens are paying at the pump.
Those who wrote Prop. 204 were also generous with other areas concerning welfare and health care, throwing millions of dollars into programs, and again tying the hands of the Legislature in the budgeting process.
As the teachers union and others talk about the reductions to education these last three years, remember the $3 billion deficit that was brought about by increases in spending that could not be sustained. Between 2008 and 2010, the state lost 33 percent of its revenue, yet education received a reduction of 3.4 percent, in comparison to other state agencies which received reductions from 15.8 percent to 53 percent.
In 2008, state aid was $5,431 per student. Today it is $5,244. (Schools also receive federal and local dollars we have no control over.) This last session we increased funding to education by $56 million and as revenues improve, the Legislature will add more.
The Arizona Legislature worked hard to bring our state budget back into balance. Along with other good legislation we have been able to improve our state economy whereas national job growth is stagnant. Arizona is now No. 4 in the nation for job creation opportunities.
Please vote NO on Prop. 204 and protect your ability to have a say in the budgeting process through your elected legislator.