This year’s election appears to be pivotal in determining Arizona’s path forward as a state. Propositions 126, 127 and 305 have attracted plenty of attention over the last few months as they each seek to provide long-term solutions to problems Arizona faces. However, not everyone agrees that the propositions are the best guide to navigate the state to a better destination.
Tax increases are always a controversial topic, especially when legislators raise taxes without voter approval. Proposition 126 would amend articles nine and 13 of the state constitution, prohibiting the government from increasing taxes on any in-state services without voter approval.
It aims to protect the cost of living for Arizona residents by making it illegal to raise taxes on any service you pay for from haircuts to car repairs and many other routinely-taxed services.
The goal of making it part of the state constitution ensures it would be extremely difficult to change compared to other methods of implementing policy. If Proposition 126 is approved by voters, it will limit the government’s ability to fund public needs and forces them to make ends meet through other methods.
Resources for energy are extremely valuable in maintaining societal functions and people will have a choice to make concerning them in November. Proposition 127 provides a possible solution to energy shortages in the future.
If approved, it will mandate that 50 percent of Arizona’s energy must be clean energy by the year 2030.
Given the fact that Arizona is a desert state, solar energy could be used in abundance. Persistent winds in the high country could be harnessed and utilized by wind turbines as well.
Particularly, the group Affordable Electricity has been advocating against this proposition. Matthew Benson, a spokesperson from this campaign, explained that he was opposed to the proposition because he thought it lacked focus.In addition, having 12 years to meet this standard gives Arizona some time to gradually adjust to a more permanent and cleaner source of energy. However, there are repercussions that many people are concerned about.
“I can’t imagine an initiative with broader impacts than those of Prop 127,” said Benson.
He went on to state that every independent entity that had studied the proposition had come to the conclusion that it would significantly increase the price of electricity if approved.
The proposition, if approved by voters, would require public utilities across the state to phase out many of their power plants, including the nuclear Palo Verde Generating Station.
This would force the companies to take on approximately $15 billion in additional expenses for solar farms, battery storage, transmission lines and other infrastructure. Benson believes these costs would get passed along to consumers.
Benson also questioned those who were behind the proposition, as he discovered that it had been funded by California billionaire Tom Steyer, an influential political activist.
Steyer is most known for creating NextGen America, a nonprofit political action committee dedicated to fighting for clean energy in America among many other progressive goals including an active voter-registration campaign.
“The fact of the matter is that Tom Steyer isn’t going to be here after the election to deal with the increased electric rates, lost jobs and other consequences of this initiative,” Benson said.
Finally, Proposition 305 takes aim at Arizona’s education system. Traditionally, most students receive their education through public schooling, where teachers are responsible for developing the minds of the future.
In recent years, other methods have become more popular such as private and charter schools or homeschooling.
Rather than having their children attend public school, Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) allow parents to receive and utilize public funds to pay for their child’s private education.
On April 6, 2017, Gov. Doug Ducey signed SB 1431, which permits the expansion of ESAs and increased government funding for private education.
If approved, Proposition 305 will expand funding for ESAs by 500 percent. Moreover, ESAs can only be used for educational services that are for profit, such as private tutoring and schooling.
Those opposed to this proposition argue that it would take hundreds of millions of dollars away from public education to fund the ESAs. A political group called Save Our Schools (SOS) is actively fighting against 305.
SOS communication director Dawn Penich-Thacker wants legislators to fix the public school system first.
“Public schools in Arizona are already scraping by as it is,” said Penich-Thacker.
She laid out how it would be a massive blow to schools in rural communities in particular because they have even less funding than metropolitan schools.
“It would shut down schools and teacher vacancies would be more common because there would be no money to pay educators or keep the lights on,” Penich-Thacker said. “It is devastating to the public school system.”
In addition, she believes it would impact other areas in the state from the economy to healthcare. A vast majority of workers and employees come from public schools, and if companies can not hire skilled workers locally, it forces them to allocate resources to recruit employees from out-of-state as well as internationally.
Moreover, empty schools lower property values in their perspective communities. She stated that the quality of healthcare people receive will also be impacted if nurses and doctors aren’t properly educated.
“Every time we hurt the public school system we hurt our community and our economy,” Penich-Thacker said.
The future of Arizona is up in the air right now, and whatever the voters decide it is sure to have lasting repercussions for years to come. Being informed in these issues and voting on them is an opportunity for Arizona residents to choose their future. The polls open Nov. 6.