And finish with no real reforms to fix an education system that is badly in need of repair.
That’s the recipe for Prop. 204, the ballot measure that claims to save the day for education in Arizona. It is arguably the worst proposal I have seen in my limited years in public life, and it deserves a stinging rejection by voters on Election Day.
There are so many flaws in this proposal that it’s hard to know where to start.
Prop. 204 makes the temporary sales tax, passed as Prop 100 during the height of our state’s budget crisis, into a permanent one. During the recession Arizona’s revenue collection decreased 30 percent. Prop 100 was a stop gap measure until we regained our footing and got our financial house in order. Today we have a balanced budget, over $1 billion in the state’s operating account, and another $450 million in a reserve account earning interest. Our state’s financial circumstances have changed dramatically, and yet proponents of Prop. 204 want to increase taxes and take us right back to the “spend more, spend now” mentality that got us into such serious financial trouble in the first place!
The measure is marketed as being “for education,” except large portions of our tax dollars will not be spent in the classroom, but on special interest projects such as road construction. Is there any reason that contractors should be considered a “special class” of citizen and be guaranteed at least $90 million in protected government spending forever? This is the Washington, DC approach to spending, virtually guaranteed to result in waste and corruption. Why would we follow that model in Arizona?
In addition, the money designated for education is not guaranteed to go to teachers or the classroom. Prop. 204 contains no accountability or oversight in how the money is to be spent. It’s pure pork. That’s why the Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA) said, “ The so-called Quality Education and Jobs Initiative is the most complicated earmarking effort to ever be placed before Arizona voters.”
More importantly, higher taxes will not allow Arizona to attract new business or help existing business grow in our state. Arizona already has higher-than-average property taxes, income taxes, and corporate taxes. This will give us the dubious honor of having the second-highest sales tax in the country. Add it all up and Prop. 204 is a distinctly bad proposition.
Finally, Arizona families will be disproportionately affected by Prop. 204. Middle class and lower income families will pay more for household goods and services in an Arizona economy that is still struggling to fully recover.
I am leading this effort because I care about Arizona’s future. I believe that in order for our state to be competitive we need real education reform. Passing Prop. 204 simply sends the message that the old way of doing things is fine; that special interests still have too much influence; that spending with no reform and no accountability is acceptable; and that we’ve learned nothing from the crisis we were in just a few short years ago.
I hope you and your family vote no on Prop. 204. If you want to learn more about it, visit www.VoteNoOn204.com.