Former Sen Jon Kyl: Let’s Debunk The Myth That Prop. 123 Will Hurt Us

Former senator: I’m baffled by claims that Proposition 123 will do irreparable harm to Arizona’s permanent fund.

I strongly support Prop. 123 and am baffled by opposition to it, most of which seems to claim it will do irreparable harm to the state’s permanent fund.

Jon KylThis simply isn’t true.

To help Arizona transition from a frontier territory to the 48th state, the federal government turned over to the new state about 11 million acres of land, to be held in trust for the support of public needs, the first and foremost of which was K-12 education.

The state accomplishes that role by selling and leasing state trust lands to produce revenue. The revenue from the sale of state trust lands are deposited into Arizona’s permanent fund. The money in the permanent fund is then invested by the state in stocks, bonds and other investments and produce additional returns.

We’re dipping into interest, not the fund

Arizona’s permanent fund is currently worth about $5 billion, and the trust earns money each year, with an average rate of return over 6.9 percent for the past 10 years.

Right now, 2.5 percent of the value of the permanent trust fund is distributed on an annual basis to beneficiaries like K-12 public schools. Voting “yes” on Prop. 123 would increase the distribution amount to 6.9 percent (roughly $342 million per year) from 2.5 percent (roughly $125 million per year) for a period of 10 years.

Given that the permanent fund has averaged a rate of return in excess of this proposed 6.9 percent distribution for the past 10 years, which includes the depths of this past recession, we should view Prop. 123 as an agreement to distribute the anticipated interest from the permanent fund to the trust beneficiaries – and not as an agreement to dip into the $5.1 billion corpus of the permanent fund.

Trust also includes $70 billion in land

We also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the trust is composed not only of the $5.1 billion in the permanent fund, but also of the value of the remaining state trust lands, which have a current estimated value of some $70 billion.

As urban growth has reached formerly outlying areas of state trust land, it stands to reason that this value will very likely increase in future years as expanding infrastructure and growth drive values to those lands.

Using $3.5 billion of that combined $75 billion of value over the next 10 years to help educate our K-12 kids is hardly a wasteful dissipation of the trust assets. Indeed, the combined values of the state trust lands and permanent trust fund should very well be even greater in 10 years based on current and expected trends. In any event, the myth of destruction of the trust needs to be exposed.

Why not put this cash to better use?

Prop. 123 does not mandate the sale of any part of the land being held in trust for K-12. That asset will continue to be managed in the best manner possible to provide for this generation of students as well as future generations.

Prop. 123 does put appropriate pressure on the state to ensure it performs its role in producing a quality revenue stream to support the intended beneficiaries of the trust, including our K-12 system.

Here is my question. From what do we get greater value: sitting on the assets in the trust (earning a bit), or investing $3.5 billion to better educate millions of Arizona kids today?

An educated citizenry is the best guarantee of economic growth and societal health. In other words, this human capital will be much more valuable for the state than keeping the assets in the trust, which is supposed to exist to help educate our youth.

In addition, this funding will also satisfy a legal obligation resulting from court decisions holding that the state government had not devoted sufficient appropriations to K-12 education in the past. Without Prop. 123, it is likely a tax increase would be necessary to meet this legal obligation.

Let us keep in mind that the trust was intended from the beginning to provide support for our K-12 system. Rather than allowing the trust to continue to underfund our current students, we should support Prop. 123 and put those funds to work in our classrooms now.

Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl is senior counsel at Covington and Burling in Washington, D.C. 

Prop 123 Proponents Make Their Case on Arizona PBS’ Horizon

Advocates for Proposition 123 appeared on KAET’s Horizon on Monday evening to make the case for passage of Prop 123. Here is the video of that show featuring Chris Thomas, General Counsel for the Arizona School Boards Association:

Poll: Prop 123 Shows Strong Numbers With Early Voting Underway

Predictive Insights

Bi-partisan support for prop 123

PHOENIX (April 27, 2016) — Arizona’s special election for two statewide initiatives including the education bill, Proposition 123, will be voted on May 17th, 2016.

In a survey of 665 likely special election voters, 59.7 percent said they would vote in favor of Prop 123.

Prop 123 – Education Funding
April 25, 2016 Results
Definitely Yes 38.5%
Probably Yes 21.2%
Probably No 9%
Definitely No 24.4%
Unsure/Undecided 6.9%

“Early indicators show strong support for Proposition 123 across all demographics,” Mike Noble, Pollster & Managing Partner of OH Predictive Insights said, “It is surprising to see only 6.9% of likely voters are undecided which tells us voters are keenly aware of the measure.  If you hear someone talking about this next time you are in-line at the grocery store – don’t be surprised.”

Wes Gullett, Partner in OH Predictive Insights and political consultant was impressed that the Yes vote is strong across all demographics and was cautiously positive about the results. “Democrats, Republicans and Independents are all voting yes close to 60%.  However, with ballot measures typically the ‘No’ vote does a better than the polling on election day so the Yes side needs to have a strong turnout of supporters over the next three weeks,” Gullett said.

Methodology: This automated survey was completed by OH Predictive Insights on April 25th, 2016, from a sample of likely special election voters from across Arizona who first answered they were “likely” or “very likely” to vote in the 2016 May 17th special election in Arizona. The sample size was 665 completed surveys, with a Margin of Error of ± 3.8%

VIDEO: Parents are rallying behind Prop 123

Here is the latest ad by Prop 123 showing parents rallying behind the measure to get more money in their children’s classrooms.

Parents are rallying behind Prop 123 because it will put $3.5 billion into the classroom over the next 10 years. It will help Arizona schools pay teachers what they deserve and ensure our students have the resources they need in the classroom.
Share this video with a parent you know, so they know that a YES vote on Prop 123 is our best chance to improve our public schools.

Debbie Moak & Seth Leibsohn Discuss Campaign for Responsible Drug Policy

Debbie Moak and Seth Leibsohn discuss the adverse effects of legalizing Marijuana for recreational use in Arizona. Both Debbie and Seth appeared on Newsmaker Sunday with John Hook.

Here is the video:

Big Solar launches ballot initiative to keep corporate crony deal in place

Interesting political developments taking place over the last 10 days in Arizona regarding energy policy.

Big solar has decided to go on offense by exercising the “nuclear option” and launching an initiative in an attempt to lock in ratepayer-funded subsidies in the Arizona Constitution.

Last Tuesday, a group called “Energy Choice for America” registered as an independent expenditure committee with the Arizona Secretary of State. In its filing it stated that it would be supporting a ballot measure but did not list the name of ballot measure. The group’s chairman is listed as Kris Mayes – a former Arizona Corporation Commissioner.

Three days later on April 15, a group called “Yes on AZ Solar, In Support of C-09-2016” filed registration papers with the Secretary of State’s office. This committee registered in support of a ballot measure but listed the ballot measure as “None exists yet.” Kristin Mayes was listed as the group’s chairman.

On Monday (18th), another group called “Energy Choice for America in Support of C-09-2016” registered as a committee in support of a ballot measure – obviously, C-09-2016. Again, the chairman was listed as Kristin Mayes.

Finally, on Tuesday (19th), another independent expenditure committee called “Save Our AZ Solar” filed papers in support of an unnamed ballot measure. The chairman? You guessed it – Kris Mayes.

So why these committees and why is Kris Mayes at the center of all these committees?

First, a brief background on the current dismal state of rooftop solar companies. Anyone following the industry knows that these corporations have been on a major energy bubble waiting to burst. Fueled by political agendas and taxpayer subsidies, public policy has attracted companies attempting to take advantage of a solar-friendly political climate and of course, those big green profits. Companies like SunEdison have over promised and under delivered while they’ve taken on tremendous debt to lease their products to customers.

Thursday, SunEdison announced it was going into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

We saw a similar situation with Spain-based Abengoa Solar which was working on a project near Gila Bend.

The industry in many ways has become so big, it is failing and it’s failing miserably on its own accord.

Bringing this back to Arizona politics, news of these collapses couldn’t happen at a worse time for politicos seeking to make it a ballot issue for voters.

The formation of these political committees is all part of a last ditch effort by the imploding rooftop solar corporations to cement into Arizona’s Constitution their right to your ratepayer subsidies. Big solar corporations are asking voters to demand that government pick big solar companies as the winner and recipient of utility profits. And don’t be surprised if they use all kinds of fear and loathing messaging to persuade voters to vote for their “free” government money.

It is a horribly inflexible way to make public policy by allowing special interests to seek a corporate crony deal in an ever-changing energy market that requires flexibility.

This is what happens when government creates an incentive for so-called green corporations – they pursue green paper instead of pursuing green energy.

So why did Big Solar choose Kris Mayes to chair their political committees? She lends credibility to their agenda and effort. Mayes served on the Arizona Corporation Commission from 2003-2010 and helped write the Arizona Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) which forces Arizona utilities to produce and deliver a 15% of energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, etc. by 2025. Until the initiative announced, Mayes served as a senior sustainability scholar with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

While I have a tremendous respect for Kris Mayes and ASU’s Schools of Sustainability, as a conservative/libertarian, I do have to disagree with those policy objectives that  increase the size and role of government – especially when the consequences are a disruption to free market economies and a reduction of freedom and the well-being of individuals. There is nothing sustainable about government subsidies and dependency. (Conservatives should actually “own” the word “sustainability!”)

With Big Solar behind this initiative and Kris Mayes as their spokesperson, we can expect millions of dollars to pour into the campaign. In a recent Arizona Republic article, Mayes revealed that “‘significant’ resources will be put in the campaign.”

Thursday it was reported that SolarCity Inc. has already donated $3 million to the campaign. And in a tweet by reporter Rachel Leingang on Wednesday, the committee was already hiring petition circulators off Craigs List at $5 a signature.

A minimum of 225,963 signatures is needed to qualify for the ballot. Doing the math on those numbers shows that it will cost the committee $1,129,815 just to pay for the minimum number of signatures. Most committees try to build a buffer of 15-20% over minimum. Most committees running a “popular” initiative, don’t have to pay for signatures.

That means Big Solar is willing to pay big bucks to keep the subsidies flowing to their business. For them, its the cost of doing business even if it means carving out a special place in the Arizona Constitution.

One of my primary motives for writing columns like this is I’m angered by the injustice of what the rooftop solar is attempting to do to unaware people. These companies will tell a prospective customer that they can generate all their own electricity and that any extra electricity can be sold back to the grid. These companies will sign up customers for a long term lease and install the equipment on their rooftops (free rent to park their units.) The customer will be told they’re helping the environment and saving money on their utility bill (relatively true statements).

But what Big Solar doesn’t really focus on with the customer is who owns the the equipment and that there is a margin between the retail rate and the wholesale rate at which the customer “sells back” their electricity. That margin adds up to big profits for rooftop solar companies.

At the same time, solar rooftop customers do not pay for the cost to maintain and upgrade the main grid. That cost is shifted to non-solar customers to pay. If you’re someone concerned about equity, it’s anything but fair as those folks who are more likely to qualify for a long-term solar lease shift the cost of maintaining the grid to those who cannot afford or qualify for solar leases.

It’s a big racket for Big Solar and they’re willing to spend big money to keep their big profits in place – by enshrining it into our state constitution.

When Arizona utility companies revealed these disparities to the Arizona Corporation Commission and suggested more equitable policy changes like elimination of net metering or demand charges, Big Solar went on the warpath. It’s why they’ve launched their initiative “The Arizona Solar Energy Freedom Act.”

If you are a rooftop solar customer, don’t be surprised to see a signature gatherer show up at your doorstep carrying a petition. Big Solar has your name and address and they’re not worried about sharing your private information with the super PAC’s hiring people off Craig’s List to knock on your door and warn you that the sky is falling.

Watch for Big Solar’s “Arizona Solar Energy Freedom Act” and remember, it’s anything but free.

WATCH: Get Out The Vote For Prop 123

Did you get your early ballot in the mail?

When you do, vote YES on Prop 123, and put it right back in your mailbox. If you plan to vote on Election Day, make sure you mark your calendar for May 17!

Why?

Prop 123 will put $3.5 billion into K-12 public schools over the next 10 years without raising your taxes. That’s money our kids and teachers need to succeed in the classroom.

Today, the campaign released a new video with parents, grandparents and teachers urging you to vote YES on Prop 123. It’s a common-sense solution that better uses our state land trust for its intended purpose: funding our public schools. And it protects the trust, which will still grow by $1 billion over 10 years if Prop 123 passes.

Can we count on you to vote YES on Prop 123?

Team Prop 123

Get the Facts on Prop 123

GetFacts123

Early voting has started, so we want to make sure you have the facts about Proposition 123 before you cast your ballot.  Prop 123 is a sustainable plan to fund K-12 education in Arizona and give teachers and students the resources they need.

Please forward this post to at least one friend or family member to make sure they have the facts before voting in the May 17 special election.

Get the facts below, visit YESProp123.com, or email contact@yesprop123.com if you have questions!

  • Prop 123 doesn’t raise taxes. Prop 123 uses additional dollars from the state land trust fund to give teachers and students the resources they need without raising our taxes. It’s a financially responsible and sustainable way to help our schools.
  • Prop 123 puts $3.5 billion into the classroom. This money will have a real impact over the next decade. It will give teachers and students stability and the resources they need to succeed.
  • Prop 123 gives local control to school districts. No one knows better where this money needs to go than principals, school board members, and teachers. Prop 123 will give individual districts control over the funds to ensure local decision-making and teacher input.
  • Prop 123 protects the trust. According to the non-partisan Joint Legislative Budget Committee, even with the higher distributions of funds from Prop 123, the state land trust will grow by over $1 billion over 10 years. The trust will continue to grow under Prop 123 so it can fund education for future generations.
  • Prop 123 keeps quality teachers. Teachers are fleeing Arizona because of a lack of financial support for education. This will reverse that trend and help pay our teachers what they deserve.

Learn more about why Prop 123 is a financially responsible solution in Robert Robb’s column, “Prop. 123 doesn’t bust the state land trust” below.

Thanks,

Team Prop 123

Arizona Republic: Poll shows Arizona marijuana-legalization campaign could fail if voted on today

Arizona Republic: Poll shows Arizona marijuana-legalization campaign could fail if voted on today

As seen on AZCentral.com

Yvonne Wingett Sanchez
April 20, 2016

If a vote were taken today, Arizonans could reject an initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana by adults, according to a poll released by the campaign opposing the plan.

The survey shows 43 percent of likely voters support legalizing marijuana for recreational use while 49 percent would vote against it. About 8 percent of likely voters were undecided. The telephone survey has a margin of error of about 4 percent.

Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy released the poll on the eve of 4/20, a day on which the drug culture celebrates and consumes cannabis.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is gathering signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot that would allow people age 21 and older to carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants in a home occupied by at least two people, without obtaining licenses. It would also create a distribution system similar to Colorado’s, where licensed businesses produce and sell marijuana, which would be taxed.

Barrett Marson, spokesman for the legalization campaign, said of the poll results: “We look forward to a vigorous campaign informing voters of the benefits of ending the failed policy of prohibition. By regulating and taxing marijuana, we benefit our schools and keep it out of the hands of teens.”

The poll, released to The Arizona Republic on Tuesday, shows voters could narrowly oppose the measure. According to the survey of 500 likely voters conducted April 11 through April 14:

  • When asked if they would be more or less likely to support the ballot measure if they knew recreational marijuana would be taxed at 15 percent and the funds would go to public health and education, 50 percent said they would be more likely to support the measure, while 29 percent said they would be less likely to support it. Eighteen percent said the tax would not really change their decision, while 4 percent were undecided and 1 percent wouldn’t answer the question.
  • About 19 percent said they would be more likely to support legalization in Arizona after being told teen use of the drug here is 70 percent higher than the national average. About 53 percent said they would be less likely to vote for the measure, 21 percent said they still held the same view, 6 percent were undecided and 1 percent wouldn’t answer the question.
  • Asked if they knew the measure would allow growth of up to 12 plants in their homes and allow them to smoke in their backyard, 31 percent said they would be more likely to vote for it, 52 percent would be less likely, 13 percent said their opinion remained about the same, 3 percent were undecided and 1 percent refused to answer.

Of those who responded, 39 percent were Republican, 33 percent were Democrat, 28 percent were independent, and 1 percent didn’t know their affiliation. About 36 percent were 65 or older, 21 percent were 55-64 years old, 17 percent were 45-54 years old, 13 percent were 35-44 years old and 13 percent were 18-34 years old.

Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy argues legalization could upend decades of policies surrounding substance-abuse prevention, law-enforcement and health. They argue legalization could lead to the abuse of marijuana and negatively impact the workplace.

The group’s leaders, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk and radio host Seth Leibsohn, say legalization could lead to increased incidents of impaired driving and lead to accidental ingestion by youth who may find marijuana-laced cookies and candies enticing without knowing they contain the drug.

“Advocates for recreational marijuana argue that legalization is inevitable, but this poll shows it’s just not true,” Leibsohn said in a statement. “Arizonans are beginning to understand that today’s marijuana is not the marijuana of the past. It’s a great deal more potent — practically a different drug — and is made attractive to youth in seemingly innocuous candies like gummy bears.”

Campaign officials argue prohibition of the drug has been a failure, and it’s in the public’s best interest to try to regulate and tax it.

Taxation of the proposed program would pay the state’s cost of implementing and enforcing the initiative. Forty percent of the taxes on marijuana would be directed to the Department of Education for construction, maintenance and operation costs, including salaries of K-12 teachers. Another 40 percent would be set aside for full-day kindergarten programs. Twenty percent would go to the state Department of Health Services for unspecified uses.

A state Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control would regulate the “cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation and sale of marijuana” and would give local governments the authority to regulate and ban marijuana stores. Current medical-marijuana dispensary owners would get first dibs on licenses for the stores.

WATCH: Teachers Explain Why They Support Prop 123

img_2434.jpg

Today, we released our latest ad where teachers explain why it’s so important to support Prop 123.
If Prop 123 passes, $3.5 billion will flow into school districts across the state over the next decade.

This is all possible without raising taxes and it will provide students much-needed stability so they have every opportunity to learn, achieve and succeed.

But, these teachers and students need your help to ensure Prop 123 passes.

Please sign up to volunteer using the button below, to help spread the word about why it’s SO IMPORTANT to vote YES on May 17.

VOLUNTEER FOR PROPOSITION 123