Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Prop. 100′s passage nothing to cheer about

Perhaps I’m too cynical or too much of a realist but I don’t get what everyone is so happy about with the passage of Prop. 100.

They act as if a great blow has been struck for education and democracy but I don’t see what’s so great about what happened yesterday.

You get maybe one chance a decade to raise a tax in this state and Arizona’s voters blew it on a tax that won’t solve any problems or make anything better.

Purchases of goods and services in Arizona will be more expensive after June 1 but there will be no improvements to education, social services or public safety.

Will this tax reduce class sizes?


Will this tax prevent the layoffs of hundreds of teachers?


Will this tax allow school districts to hire back librarians, counselors, teacher aids, custodians and other school employees laid off the past two years due to state education budget cuts?


Will this tax improve school infrastructure, put more computers in classrooms, pay for teaching innovations and other needed education reforms?


Will this tax raise Arizona from the bottom of the list of states’ per pupil funding?


Will this tax cause the Board of Regents to reduce the near doubling of tuition at state universities the past three years?


Will this tax bolster the Department of Economic Security and widen the state’s social safety net for the hundreds of thousands of Arizonans being crushed by the home mortgage foreclosure fiasco and the Great Recession?


Will this tax put more cops on the street?


Will this tax modernize our prison system or pay for more prosecutors and parole officers?


Will this tax restore funding to the state parks system?


Will this tax reopen the state’s highway rest stops?


Will this tax reopen closed Motor Vehicles offices?


Will this tax prevent furloughs and pay cuts for state employees?


Will this tax prevent the state from mortgaging state buildings and paying millions of dollars in interest?


All this tax does is possibly prevent some of the above from getting worse. And for that we cheer and make silly statements about how “proud” we are of our state’s voters?

Voters went to the polls yesterday with a gun to their heads. Gov. Brewer and Republican legislative leaders offered up a parade of horribles if voters didn’t pass the tax. They were going to dump thousands of killers, robbers and rapists in the last years of their sentences into county jails. They were going to dump juvenile prisoners onto the counties, which are ill-prepared to take them. They were going to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from schools and universities causing thousands of layoffs.

But those were all just threats. Voters still possessed the power to prevent all those terrible outcomes. None of it had to happen. But because the threats were made, supporters of Prop. 100 feel like they’ve staved off disaster and sent a rebuke to the Legislature.


The irony for the Democrats is they were so backed into a corner on this that by advocating for Prop. 100 they’ve practically guaranteed that Brewer will win in November. Their candidate, Attorney General Terry Goddard, was nowhere to be found on Prop. 100 (or anywhere, for that matter. He’s apparently waging a ghost campaign for governor).

Prop. 100 was no great victory for Arizona.

What Arizona needs is a massive overhaul of state government. We need to reform the state budgeting process and the tax system. We need to remove mandated and earmarked spending requirements. We need new, reasonable legislators who legislate for all of us, not just deeply religious conservatives.

This ridiculous tax doesn’t give us any of that.

And the sad irony of it all is that Prop. 100 may have none of the effects its supporters hope. They still need to vote in November to eviscerate First Things First and the Land Conservation Fund, otherwise the Legislature has threatened to cut another $450 million out of the state budget, about half of what this tax is supposed to bring in this fiscal year.

They still need to vote out the yahoos in the Legislature who got us into this mess, yet considering that 6 out of 10 registered voters DIDN’T vote yesterday, chances of any great ouster of incumbents are slim.

And, if the SB 1070 economic boycott takes hold, thanks to the same legislative leaders who gave us yesterday’s Hobson’s choice, we face a deep, double-dip recession that could eradicate any gains from the sales tax increase.

Nothing good happened yesterday. A small battle may have been won, depending on your perspective, but we’re still losing the war. Badly. What’s good about that?


Read my screed against Prop. 100 from April 18.

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