RECOMMENDATIONS ON 2012 BALLOT MEASURES
Prop. 114 – Crime Victim Protection From Liability for Damages
The Arizona Constitution prohibits limitations on causes of action and the recovery of damages. The Arizona Legislature created a sympathetic straw-man – the innocent victim of a crime – to begin eroding these Constitutional protections through ”tort reform.” Arizona juries do not award civil damages to the perpetrators of crimes against their victims. This is a solution in search of a non-existent problem. Recommendation – Vote NO.
Proposition 115 – The Judicial Department
Arizona’s Judicial Merit Selection System is a model for the nation. The Arizona Legislature wanted to repeal the Judicial Merit Selection System entirely, but settled on this “great compromise” which, would remove any limitation on the Governor’s selection of members of the nominating commissions and selection of judges, and in the long run, significantly increase the influence of the executive and legislative branches of the government over the independence of the judicial branch. Recommendation – Vote NO.
Proposition 116 – (Personal) Property Tax Exemption
Under current Arizona law, the first $50,000 of full cash value of a taxpayer’s equipment and machinery used in agriculture or in a trade or business is exempt from tax. This measure would exempt such personal property from taxation in an amount “equal to the amount of the earnings of fifty workers in this state.” The exemption would apply to equipment and machinery initially acquired in 2013. Recommendation – No Position.
Proposition 117 – Property Tax Assessed Evaluation
The Arizona Legislature put this measure on the ballot to compete with the failed “Proposition 13 Initiative” that would have imposed a Howard Jarvis-style California Proposition 13 (1978) in Arizona. This measure would limit the full cash value assessed valuation to 5% over the value of the property for the previous year, beginning with the 2015 tax year. This is a solution in search of a problem that no longer exists – rapidly increasing assessed valuations resulting from hyper-inflation during the housing bubble that burst in 2007. Recommendation – Vote NO.
Proposition 118- Establishment of Permanent Funds
The state land trust produces revenue for public institutions, e.g., schools, colleges, prisons, etc. This measure would temporarily amend the distribution formula in the Arizona Constitution from fiscal year 2012-2013 to 2020-2021 to 2.5% of the average market values of the fund for the immediately preceding five calendar years. After the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the distribution formula would return to the current formula under the Arizona Constitution. Recommendation – Vote NO.
Proposition 119 – State Trust Lands
This measure would allow the state to exchange state trust land for other public land in the state if: (1) it is in the best interest of the state land trust; (2) the purpose is for protecting military facilities from the encroachment of development, or to improve the management of state lands for the purpose of sale or lease, or conversion of state lands to public use. It requires two independent appraisals, public notice and hearings, and statewide voter approval of the exchange in a general election. Recommendation – Vote YES.
Proposition 120 – Sovereignty
This proposition would amend the Arizona Constitution in an attempt to repeal Arizona’s disclaimer of all right to public lands within the state (except Indian Reservations) and to repeal Arizona’s consent to provisions of the Enabling Act that established Arizona statehood. In short, this is a Tea Party “states’ rights” ideological temper tantrum that seeks to seize federal lands. It is unconstitutional and is unenforceable at law. Recommendation – Vote NO.
Proposition 121 – Open elections/Open Government Act
This citizens initiative would impose a top two “jungle primary” in which all candidates from all political parties (or no party affiliation) would run in a single primary in which all registered voters would be eligible to vote. The top two finishers (or multiples where more than one seat is contested) move on to the general election in November. The backers of the initiative claim that it will increase voter turnout in primary elections and lead to the election of more moderate candidates. There is no empirical evidence to support these claims from the states which use this primary method (Louisiana, Washington, and California this year). Automatic ballot access on the general election ballot for political parties in Arizona would no longer be assured, thus reducing candidate choices available to voters in November. This would disenfranchise voters of their preference and likely reduce voter participation. Recommendation – Vote NO.
Proposition 204 – Quality Education and Jobs Act
This citizens initiative would make permanent the temporary state sales tax increase to 6.6 percent enacted by voters in May 2010, beginning on July 1, 2013. The backers of the initiative anticipate the tax to generate at least one billion dollars. The initiative directs that these tax revenues are to be used for education, public transportation infrastructure projects, and human services programs under a statutory formula imposed by the initiative. The initiative also requires the Legislature to annually increase specific components of the school finance formula. Recommendation – Vote YES.
Proposition 409 – City of Tucson Road Bonds
The City of Tucson was forced to make budget cuts for road repairs as tax revenues fell during the Great Recession. The Arizona legislature made matters worse by sweeping revenue sharing funds and HURF funds (shared gas-tax collections) to balance the state budget at the expense of local government. Proposition 409 would authorize $100 million in road bonds to be spent over five years to repair and resurface 31 percent of the city’s major streets and 7 percent of neighborhood streets. The annual cost to taxpayers is an estimated $18 per $100,000 full cash value of their property. There is no guarantee the City of Tucson will receive revenue sharing from the state legislature for road repairs in the future. Recommendation: Vote YES.