Arizona Proposition 204 is bad policy. A close look at the fine print in Proposition 204 reveals the true purpose of the initiative.
The measure creates 14 separate carve outs for special interest groups, creating a grab bag of taxpayer funded giveaways. While special interests are getting enriched, Arizona families will see a $1 Billion dollar PERMANENT tax increase. If passed, Arizona will become the second highest sales tax state in America, just behind Tennessee, a state with no income tax.
But, how does Proposition 204 reward politically connected groups? The device is a list of “designated funds” that would dictate how the money is spent. Students and teachers in the classroom are barely in the equation.
Arizonans need only to read the ballot language to see that Prop 204 is more about “pet projects” and less about improving the state’s education system.
STATE INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING ARTICLE 1. ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR STATE INFRASTRUCTURE
28-9301. State infrastructure fund
A. THE STATE INFRASTRUCTURE FUND IS ESTABLISHED CONSISTING OF LEGISLATIVE APPROPRIATIONS, FEDERAL MONIES, PRIVATE GRANTS, GIFTS, CONTRIBUTIONS, DEVISES AND MONIES DEPOSITED IN THE FUND PURSUANT TO SECTION 42- 5029.02. MONIES IN THE FUND ARE CONTINUOUSLY APPROPRIATED TO THE DEPARTMENT FOR THE PURPOSES PRESCRIBED IN THIS SECTION AND ARE EXEMPT FROM THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 35-190 RELATING TO LAPSING OF APPROPRIATIONS.
That’s why Doug Ducey, Arizona’s State Treasurer said, “Prop 204 is genuinely bad policy. It makes a permanent, billion-dollar-a-year spending commitment; it provides for no oversight as to how the money is spent; and it makes no reforms that actually improve accountability or the quality of education. Prop 204 amounts to just throwing money at a problem and hoping that somehow, magically, things will just get better.”
Out of the $1 billion collected every year, only $125 million would go to the state’s general fund for “inflation adjustments” for K-12 education. Then the spending begins to disburse $875 million to the initiative’s pet projects through the designated funds.
- The largest share, $500 million, goes to something called the quality education and performance fund to assist K-12 schools with “assessment and accountability” rules. Sounds good right? But the ballot language specifically uses the word “may use the monies.” There is no guarantee that they will be used effectively, again no oversight or accountability, just words on a page.
- The state infrastructure fund gets $100 million for road-building and public transportation.
- The family stability and self-sufficiency fund receives $100 million to support families living below the poverty level.
That takes care of $700 million projected for the designated funds. The first fund feeds bureaucratic record keeping. The second supports contractors and transportation subsidies. The third funds a social services program outside the purview of education.
The rest of the money — $175 million – goes to fund areas that again lack accountability and oversight.
To fund the $1 billion a year initiative, taxpayers will be forced to pay a one-cent increase in the state’s sales tax rate. The initiative forbids the Governor and State Legislature from any participation in spending the funds.
In fact, Prop 204 prevents the Auditor General, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee or the Governor’s Office from doing any performance audits on how the money raised is to be spent. So much for sunshine and accountability.
If Arizona wants long-term education reform, Proposition 204 is not the answer. Proposition 204 is just too taxing on Arizona families.