Proposition 204 Arizona: Bad Ballot Box Budgeting

| September 20 2012

Proposition 204 Arizona: Bad Ballot Box Budgeting

Proposition 204 – the so-called Quality Education and Jobs Initiative – is the worst form of “ballot-box budgeting” that sidesteps the state legislature and violates the intent of the state constitution.

Arizona is one of 24 states that give citizens the right to legislate through the initiative process. Along with the courts, it is the last refuge for special interests that cannot get their pet spending projects past the peoples’ elected representatives in the state legislature.

The Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA), a state watchdog group, points out in a comprehensive paper opposing 204 that ballot-box budgeting and earmarking revenue outside the normal appropriation process “has done considerable damage” to the state’s budgeting process. What is more, ATRA says the “devastating impact” on state finances caused by the recent recession has vindicated the group’s opposition to budgeting taxpayer funds through mandated spending.

ATRA goes further, saying its opposition to the initiative process for ballot box budgeting is “entirely consistent” with restraints on referendums by the state constitution and the courts.

“While the Arizona Constitution provides citizens the power to both propose laws and refer acts of the Legislature to the voters,” ATRA writes, “it specifically limits the authority of the citizenry from referring the annual budget”

The group goes on to note that the framers of the state constitution did not want the initiative power extended to laws “for the support and maintenance of Departments of the State and State institutions.”

“In addition,” the group says, “the Arizona Court of Appeals (Wade v. Greenlee County, 1992) interpreted this provision to also prohibit citizens from referring a tax increase that was necessary to ‘support’ the state budget.”

Proposition 204 collides with these principles that oppose ballot box budgeting by mandating spending for education, road building and public transit, and social services programs.

The state constitution guarantees the people’s right to propose laws through ballot initiatives; when it comes to spending the people’s tax money, ballot-box budgeting causes havoc and violates the consent of the governed.

I hope Arizonans vote no on Proposition 204, please visit their Facebook page and add your support.

 

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