Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Less-debated Arizona ballot propostions, more yesses than nos

The two big ballot propositions this year – Prop. 204, the sales tax increase for schools, and Prop. 121, the open primaries effort – are sucking up the most voter attention, but there are seven other propositions voters will have to decide.

One, Prop. 115, which reforms the selection of judges in Pima and Maricopa County, and state appellate court judges, has already been argued here – vote no.

Here are overviews and recommendations for the remainder:

• Prop. 120 – State sovereignty. This is the easiest to dispatch because it’s ridiculous. Some of the state’s extremely conservative conservatives arm-twisted this through the Legislature to get it on the ballot. It asserts that Arizona is in charge of all the land within its borders, including the national parks and forests and other lands controlled by the federal government. It’s blatantly unconstitutional and a waste of voters’ time. Vote no on Prop. 120.

• Props. 116 and 117 are related in that they deal with property tax reform. Prop. 116 increases the property tax exemption on newly acquired equipment and machinery for businesses. It’s a common sense measure that gives businesses a break when adding or updating their equipment and has minimal annual impact on the state budget. Vote yes on Prop. 116. Prop. 117 would limit the annual increase in property evaluations to 5 percent. It’s a reaction to the runaway property value assessments of the early 2000s’ real estate bubble when property owners got de facto double-digit annual property tax increases even though counties and other property taxing bodies hadn’t raised tax rates. The increases were coming from the county assessors who argued state law required them to peg valuations to the market. This measure restricts that without handicapping governments from their ability to raise revenue through rate increases. Vote yes on Prop. 117.

• Prop. 114 – Crime Vicitms Protection. This measure reeks of unintended consequences but on its face appears worthy of support. It would restrict a convicted criminal’s ability to sue a crime victim if the criminal is somehow injured during the course of a crime, a burglar falling down loose stairs and breaking his neck, for instance. Vote yes on Prop. 114.

• Prop. 119 – Swapping state and federal lands. Arizona has repeatedly tried to grease the skids of state and federal land swaps only to run into voter resistance. This is another attempt to ease the way for land swaps but giving voters the ultimate say. The measure would allow land swaps for sale or public use or to protect military bases from development encroachment. But voters would have to approve any proposed swap. Vote yes on Prop. 119.

• Prop. 118 – State land funds. This measure would change the way funds realized from sale of state lands are distributed annually to fund schools. Under the current formula, there have been great swings in funding, from zero one year to more than $100 million the next year. This proposed formula would create more stability in annual disbursements to schools but slightly lowers what the schools would likely get over time. Makes sense. Vote yes on Prop. 118.

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