Proposition mandates huge expansion of Tucson’s payroll

by Nick Dranias
Goldwater Institute
Proposition 200 is marketed as an effort to focus Tucson on giving priority funding to core local government services–law enforcement, emergency medical services and fire protection–in order to generate better response times. But the truth is it would just mandate more government spending with no strings attached.

The hiring mandates tied to the city charter amendment would be imposed on city taxpayers regardless of economic circumstances, and they won’t be cheap. Independent audits estimate Prop. 200 would cost $150 million over the next five years.

Perhaps this major new expense could be justified if Prop. 200 included a strong mechanism for ensuring it would actually result in improved public safety. But there is no consequence if the funding does not, in fact, result in better service.

There is a better way.

The recent Goldwater Institute report, “A New Charter for American Cities,” recommends that funding for public-safety services be tied to performance goals. Police and fire departments that fail to meet their goals should see their operations competitively outsourced to the county, nearby municipalities or even the private sector.

If all else fails, residents and businesses should be given property tax credits for hiring private security or fire-protection firms to furnish public safety services.

By contrast, Proposition 200 would mandate hiring scores of new government employees without requiring spending be reduced elsewhere or imposing any incentive for good performance or consequence for bad performance.

This won’t put public safety first; it will just bloat city government.
Nick Dranias holds the Goldwater Institute Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan chair for constitutional government and is the director of the Institute’s Dorothy D. and Joseph A. Moller Center for Constitutional Government.


  1. Walt Stephenson says

    This sounds like it was written by an academic with no practical law enforcement experience.

    The solution Mr. Dranias sets forth is not only inpractical but it shows a lack of knowledge in the area of crime and law enforcement management.

  2. Please share your credentials, Walt.

  3. brings an end to this nonsense.

    While a government entity would continue to be able to run a proposition if Prop13Arizona were to pass, if they wanted to pay for it out of property taxes, the constitutional reform that Prop13Arizona introduces, they would not be able to obtain additional funding from taxpayers. Governmentwould be forced to pay for it out of the Prop13Arizona contstitutionally and formulaically limited/capped funds received in the year or years in question.

    Prop13Arizona has a proven model that has withstood local, state, federal, federal appeal and supreme court challenges and has withstood the test of time.

    It’s time to stop complaining about what government does and make the real change,, now.. Complaining about it is counterproductive at this point. Doing something about it (passing is productive.

  4. Prop 200 is an unfunded mandate that would probably find its way to your property tax bill. There’s no limit on secondary property taxes or annual increases.

    Can you afford higher property taxes?

    Prop 13 Arizona puts family budgets first, not government’s desire to tax and spend without limit.

    Prop 13 Arizona caps your total tax at 0.5% and limits your valuation increases to no more than 2% per year. As long as you can keep up with a maximum 2% annual increase, you’ll have peace of mind that you will never be taxed out of your home.

    We are collecting signatures to qualify Prop 13 Arizona for the 2010 ballot.

  5. The citizens can’t afford to have underfunded public safety agencies when the Council runs amok and spends taxpayer dollars on other sorts of foolishness. This reasserts public safety as a priority to prevent crime, prosecute crime and reduce response times to emergencies by all public safety personnel.

  6. Jack has the same ole response that all Dems do, especially California Democrats to any measure that limits property taxes: the schools are gonna close, the prisons are gonna open and the ambulances and fire trucks will stop running.

    It’s absolute nonsense, which 78% of the taxpayers of California understood when they passed Prop13 in 1978.

    No schools closed. No prisons opened. The ambulances and fire trucks continued to run.

    It’s time to reform the Arizona property tax system NOW to prevent the continuing onslaught of special interest overrides, bonds and poorly thought out measures like Prop 200.

    Prop13Arizona dot com NOW

  7. Walt Stephenson says

    Mr. Jacobs,
    35 years in Law Enforcement at all levels serving a community of over 3 million people.

  8. Thank you, Walt. Now would you please be more specific? What are the things he wrote that show a lack of “law enforcement management?” Just saying so isn’t an argument. Claiming credibility without demonstrating any facility with the topic does not make you an expert.

  9. Prop 200 is certainly ill-conceived and would be bad for Tucson. It is always amusing to see what the Goldwater Institute comes up with as a solution to every problem. We always see a variation of the old Underpants gnomes model:

    1. Privatize services
    2. ?
    3. Profit

    Somehow we are suppose to believe there will be free enterprise competition for policing services because, what, there will be multiple private police services vying for contracts? Or will it just be a matter of contracting the management of policing to some private company which will do what exactly – eliminate all inefficiencies while having enough profit to have a sustainable business? And how exactly do they determine what their performance will be? Can we imagine a public body setting out to determine how many unclosed raped and murder cases are ‘acceptable’?

  10. Performance goals may well be a better route, however this could possibly also skew or create a bias within law enforcement – in the hands of unscrupulous individuals.

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