Proposition 132 is a Dangerous Power-Grab That Will End Majority Rule in Arizona
The Arizona Center for Economic Progress urges voters to reject Proposition 132 by voting NO on this November’s ballot. Proposition 132 is a part of a series of tricks proposed by the Arizona legislature to convince voters to give up their power. Proposition 132 moves the goal post for passing initiatives and referendums from a simple majority to 60 percent, which would severely limit the ability of Arizonans to raise revenue and invest in their future.
Since statehood, Arizonans have used their constitutional right to direct democracy – the initiative and referendum process – to voice and enact their priorities, especially when the legislature has failed to listen to voters. Arizonans voted directly to fund things like schools, healthcare, and early childhood development programs. Often a majority of voters, but less than 60 percent, passed these important ballot measures that raised revenue. Had Proposition 132 been in place, these would have failed.
For example, First Things First funds early education and health programs to prepare young children to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. It was approved by 53 percent of the voters in 2006 and thus would not have been enacted had Proposition 132 been in place. Similarly, in 2000 a majority of Arizona voters passed an education sales tax (Proposition 301) which has since generated nearly a billion dollars in annual funding for Arizona’s K-12 public schools, community colleges and universities. Because 53 percent (but not 60 percent) of Arizona voters approved that measure, Arizona’s public schools would have been denied vital resources if Proposition 132 had been in place.
The legislature has also looked to voters to respond quickly in times of crisis. During the Great Recession, the legislature and the Governor asked voters to raise revenue to balance the state budget, which passed in 2010 (Proposition 100). If Arizona were to face a recession once more, Proposition 132’s threshold of 60 percent would make this important action even more difficult— ultimately threatening the state’s economic stability and constraining the government’s ability to provide critical services. And even this year, the legislature is asking voters at the ballot to combat wildfires by raising the sales tax to generate $190 million to support fire districts and emergency response (Proposition 310). Voters’ hands should not be tied when making these important, timely decisions.
Funding Arizona priorities through an initiative or referendum is necessary because the past 30 years have shown that legislators have refused to raise revenue. At the same time, legislators only need a simple majority in both chambers to cut taxes, which they been done every year but two for the past three decades. But for the legislature to reverse those tax cuts or raise revenue in other ways would require a two-thirds (supermajority) vote of both legislative chambers. Because of the supermajority requirement, it has been practically impossible for the legislature to raise revenue – doing so only once since 1990.
Thirty-plus years of tax cuts without the same ability to raise revenue when needed has taken its toll on Arizona —be it underpaid school professionals, soaring tuition at our community colleges and universities, a shortage of affordable housing, and crumbling infrastructure. It has also worsened an upside-down, unjust tax code which allows billionaires and giant corporations to pay less in state and local taxes while lower-income Arizonans pay more (as a share of their income). A supermajority requirement to raise revenue through the legislature combined with a 60 percent threshold to pass revenue increases at the ballot will prevent Arizonans from making the tax code fairer and to raise revenue for important state needs.
Prop 132 would mean a permanent change to Arizona’s constitution, undermining freedom and right to vote. By letting 41% of voters to block funding for shared priorities and shared values, Arizonans surrender their freedom to shape their future. Voters should reject Proposition 132.