Arizona Proposition 204: Yes, it is a permanent funding source — and a permanent revenue source

| September 17 2012
Hannah Thoreson

Supporters of Prop 204 have released a new ad continuing to beat the drum for more taxes and more spending.  It points out that, “Prop 204 creates a stable, permanent funding source for K-12 classrooms”.  Yes, it does:  by creating a permanent revenue stream, not only for K-12 classrooms, but also for a host of other public spending items.

Prop 204 is emblematic of the reason that many conservatives automatically oppose any effort to raise taxes:  there’s always an emergency, there’s always a crisis, more money is always needed.  The one-cent sales tax was originally passed during the state’s fiscal crisis as an emergency stopgap measure, and opponents warned that it could be difficult to roll back.  Now, two years later, we are once again dutifully marching to the ballot box to fulfill our civic responsibility, and a host of special interest groups are asking us to renew the tax — permanently.

Prop 204 is not all about education.  It also creates new government programs.  Take, for example, the State Infrastructure Fund, which is basically a giveaway to large construction firms.  There is also expanded funding for public health programs, child care, and sustainability initiatives.  And these things don’t sunset in a year, or even two years — they go on forever, because Prop 204 is a permanent tax.

While much of the Yes on 204 advertising has been misleading, its proponents are right to inform the public that it creates permanent funding for various state-level public spending projects.  That money has to come from somewhere, and in the case of Prop 204, it’s $1 billion in sales taxes — yes, permanently.

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