Rep. Anthony Kern on Arizona Propositions

As Arizona leaves the summer heat behind, we are headed into the heat of the 2020 election.

And while the presidential and U.S. senatorial races garner the limelight, state voters have a say on two very important topics – legalizing marijuana and raising income taxes on tens of thousands of taxpayers.

Rep. Anthony Kern
(photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Proposition 207 would legalize marijuana for recreational use, just four years after voters rejected a similar proposal. While Arizona has a robust medical marijuana law allowing people with specific ailments or diseases to use the drug, removing safeguards so that all adults have access to marijuana will hurt our society and lead to far greater ills. 

Allowing greater access to marijuana will increase vehicle crashes and lead to unsafe working environments. We need only look to our neighbor to the north, where car crashes increased by 10 percent following the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, for instance, has found a significant increase in car crashes in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. I don’t want to see that trend come to Arizona.

Legalizing recreational marijuana isn’t the only dangerous measure voters will see in November.

Proposition 208 aims to bring us the largest income tax increase in state history. The measure nearly doubles the income tax rate on thousands of taxpayers, including numerous small and medium-sized businesses.

Arizona doesn’t have a school funding problem, but rather the issue is how the money is spent. Just 55 cents of every education tax dollar goes to our classrooms. Too much money ends up in the pockets of administrators. I believe If our school district leaders made better decisions, our teachers and students would benefit greatly. It’s time to instruct those school board members and superintendents to target more resources into the classrooms to support our teachers and students.

An estimated 90,000 Arizonans will be hit with the tax in the first year. And according to one study, half of those paying the tax will be small businesses, the drivers of our state’s economy. I am also just as concerned with how the tax will stifle the earning potential of people who are near the cap. If striving to earn a little more money makes you eligible for the tax, government has taken away the incentive to provide for your family.

Additionally, it’s unclear whether the tax will bring in the nearly $1 billion backers claim. This unstable source of income won’t be the elixir to fix issues with our schools. Instead, approving Prop. 208 will drive businesses away from the state as employers seek states with fairer tax structures.

Representative Anthony Kern serves in the Arizona House and represents Legislative District 20 located in north Phoenix and Glendale.