Positive Step for Secretary Bennett’s Planned Defense of Citizenship

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 27, 2011
CONTACT: Matthew Roberts

Rehearing Granted in Voter Registration Case

Today’s decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant a rehearing on Gonzalez v. Arizona before the entire membership of the court, (en banc) comes as great news to many, including Secretary of State Ken Bennett who promised to defend Arizona’s Proposition 200 all the way to the Supreme Court.

Proposition 200, when passed by Arizona voters in 2004, required that voter registration applicants provide documentary proof of citizenship. In addition it required that voters provide proof of identity at the polls on Election Day.

“Today’s decision to grant the petition for a rehearing en banc by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is encouraging,” said Secretary Bennett” “Arizonans obviously believe that people should provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote and we are pleased that the court may reconsider its decision.”

Last October, the 9th Circuit in San Francisco struck down Arizona’s requirement that residents provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote. Proposition 200 was passed by Arizona voters in 2004 and helps make sure that only eligible people vote in elections. The Court ruled that a federal voter-registration law supersedes Arizona’s requirement.

“What seems like common sense to most of us, others feel is a burdensome requirement,” the Secretary continued. “The previous decision by the 9th Circuit was an outrage, and I thought was a slap in the face to Arizonans who are concerned about the integrity of our elections. There isn’t a corner of this state where people are not concerned with voter fraud and opposition to the simple act of providing proof that you are legally eligible to participate in our elections is incomprehensible.”

Those registering to vote in Arizona are required to provide one of the following documents: a driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, tribal identification or naturalization certification number. Voters seeking to register online must provide a driver’s license number, which is verified through Arizona’s motor vehicle system.

“Not expecting either side to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court is like not expecting hot summer days in Phoenix,” said Bennett. “Today’s decision is just another step along that path and we’re prepared to fight for Arizona’s right to fair and fraud free elections.”

Arizona Tax Research Association Opposes Proposition 200

Taxpayers in the City of Tucson, courtesy of Proposition 200, are being asked to amend the city charter to strip the current and future city councils of their authority to establish budgets for the police and fire departments. The Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA) strongly urges Tucson taxpayers to reject this effort at ballot-box-budgeting.

From local school districts to the state of Arizona, clearly the most important duty of our elected representatives is to establish an annual budget. Once adopted, those budgets reflect months of planning where elected officials are challenged with managing changing spending priorities against the budget decisions of previous elected officials.

The State of Arizona has become the poster child for the negative policy implications of ballot-box-budgeting. For the last two decades, a steady stream of special interest groups used the initiative process to either permanently earmark funds to their causes or establish guaranteed funding levels outside of legislative oversight and control. Collectively these initiatives have undermined the state’s budgeting process by handcuffing state lawmakers ability to react to changes in the economy or spending priorities. Today, the state of Arizona faces a $3 billion budget deficit. It would be an understatement to say that the challenge of closing the deficit is complicated by the fact that some major budgets units are “voter protected” and cannot be reduced.

The inherent flaw with ballot-box-budgeting is that citizens vote to mandate a spending obligation without understanding the long term budget impacts of the proposals and clearly the proponents prefer it that way. Side-stepping the cities budgeting process allows the proponents of Proposition 200 to have an isolated budget debate regarding police and fire protection without the unpleasantness of a tax increase to fund it. Make no mistake; in the end, this process always poorly serves taxpayers who are left questioning why citizens were not properly informed that these services are not free.

In fact, in order to force a more informed debate regarding the true costs of mandated spending initiatives, Arizona voters amended the state’s constitution in 2004 to require that such initiatives “also provide for an increased source of revenues sufficient to cover the entire immediate and future costs of the proposal.”

By any measure, Proposition 200 will force increased spending that will either drive future tax increases or impact other city services. With the current economic crisis facing Arizona serving as a painful reminder, Tucson taxpayers can be assured that, if approved, Proposition 200 will certainly force a tax increase at some future date.

Kevin McCarthy, President
Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA)

ATRA is a sixty-nine year old statewide, non-profit, non-partisan taxpayer association