Propositions 128, 129 and 132 would limit your power. vote no

Opinion: Lawmakers returned props. 128, 129 and 132, purporting to resolve the problems associated with the ballot initiative process. But be careful: they are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Invest in Education, a campaign initiative to tax the rich for schools, largely broke partisan lines and passed by less than 52% of the vote in 2020.

The income tax increase was rejected by the courts before it could be enacted.

Republican lawmakers who were furious with progressives for pushing the measure were unforgiving. Nor forgot.

Their clawback footprint is evident in three ballot proposals returned by the Legislature that would rewrite the Arizona Constitution to limit voter power:

  • Proposition 128 gives state legislators the power to change any Citizen Measure as they see fit if any part of it is found to be unconstitutional or illegal by the courts.
  • Proposition 129 limits citizens’ initiatives to a single subject and requires that this subject be specified in the title.
  • Proposition 132 requires that any initiative or referendum on a tax increase must be approved by 60% of voters to take effect.

We encourage a “no” vote on all three.

They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Read the arguments in support of the proposals yourself.

Lawmakers can act without Proposition 128

Start with proposition 128.

Funders, such as the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, lament that there is currently “no simple mechanism to fix a broken measure except to return it to voters, an expensive and confusing option.” Fair point.

They say Proposition 128 would free up lawmakers to help save voter-approved measures like Investing in Education that a judge or appeals court finds problematic.

If it were not so.

Lawmakers had no trouble responding to Invest in Ed. The GOP-led Legislature unilaterally killed the intent of Proposition 208 by cutting income tax rates so high earners no longer pay taxes. taxes than they already are – even before the courts ruled the measure largely unconstitutional.

Another view: Was taxing the rich worth it, now that the rich have their revenge?

In fact, the legislature could have simply raised the cap on education spending, as it has done in years past, and brought Invest in Ed to life. Governor Doug Ducey and GOP lawmakers deliberately chose not to. exercise that authority.

Read Proposition 128 more carefully, and note that any discovery of legal issues with a voter-approved measure—even minor points that, if struck, would leave the bulk of the initiative intact—would allow the legislature to withdraw also measure funds and use them as they see fit.

Does it give the impression of doing the will of the voters?

Courts intervened without Proposition 129

Proposition 129 is more of the same shenanigans.

The same group of supporters say the state constitution should be amended to require citizen groups to meet the same “single subject” or “adequate title” standard that binds the Arizona legislature.

It is a false argument.

Lawmakers, indeed, must follow the norm. Three of the legislature’s budget reconciliation bills were thrown out by a judge last year for violating the proper title provision.

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But their only job is to legislate. They have months to adjust the language on the invoices. They have staff and lawyers to help them research and follow the rules.

Citizens do not have the same resources and the same time. But this does not mean that any petition initiated by them and signed by a sufficient number of voters automatically qualifies for the ballot.

A number of them were challenged in court and disqualified for omitted or misleading language in the proposal’s 100-word summary. This safeguard refutes a key argument of Proponents of Proposition 129: that it would prevent special interest groups from scrambling unrelated provisions into a single measure to sneak into pet projects.

Don’t buy this nonsense that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Citizens need not be held to the same rigid legislative standard as full-time legislators.

Proposition 132 has unintended consequences

Finally, there’s Proposition 132, a well-intentioned but misguided effort to pay attention to Arizona taxpayers.

We support the position that raising taxes should not be taken lightly. We are certainly aware of the divisive Investing in Education measure, which we opposed in 2020, which brought us here.

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We also appreciate that Arizona voters in 2012 imposed a stringent threshold for lawmakers — requiring a two-thirds supermajority in both chambers of the statehouse — to enact a tax hike.

That said, requiring more than a simple majority for voter-approved tax measures is extreme. Only nine states require supermajority approval at the polls, including four only on constitutional amendments.

Most importantly, beware of unintended consequences.

Several key education funding initiatives in Arizona history have won with less than the 60% approval threshold imposed by Proposition 132. Among them:

  • Proposition 203, aka First Things First, in 2006, which raised tobacco taxes to fund early childhood programs; and
  • Proposition 301, a six-tenths-of-a-cent education sales tax in 2000, championed by then-Republican Governor Jane Hull, and which Governor Ducey and the Legislature saw fit to extend in 2018 for another two decades.

Is it right or wise to cut off voters’ voices?

Given the ongoing debate over more money to attract and retain teachers — not to mention the frustration over Legislature tax cuts that repudiated voters’ willingness to invest in education — do we really want to restrict the ability of Arizonans to effect change? Or to reduce their voice?

Is it fair or wise?

The ballot initiative process is not perfect. Measures can have unintended consequences. Protected financial measures can make it difficult to fund other priorities and an overall budget, especially when there are cuts to be made.

But these proposed “fixes” are bad faith attempts by lawmakers to assume greater power at the expense of the constituents they serve.

Vote “no” on proposals 128, 129 and 132.

This is an opinion of the editorial board of The Arizona Republic.

About Myra R.

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