Arizona is set to vote on Proposition 204 and its permanent 1% sales tax increase in November and its implications are controversial at best, and unconstitutional at worst. Labeled with the warm and fuzzy “Quality Education and Jobs Act” moniker, the proposition is really a blatant attempt to circumvent a conservative legislature, mandate high taxes, and line the pockets of special interest groups.
Two areas of the proposal are specifically troubling. First, Prop. 204 says that sales tax cannot be adjusted to result in any decrease in revenue year over year. In fact, it mandates that income tax revenues MUST increase by at least 6% annually! Setting a baseline on annual spending is bad enough, but to dictate tax levels is absurd. Second, specifically where these mandated taxes will go has also been predetermined and is not to be adjusted by the legislature under ANY circumstances. These two points alone are laughable and obscenely dangerous to the future of Arizona.
Think for a minute what would have happened from 2008-2010 in the depths of the recession if such mandates were in place. Literally, our state would be bankrupt. Ironically, this is the very reason Prop. 100, the temporary precursor to Prop. 204, was passed. But predictably, those who cashed in on the new flow of income will now fight tooth and nail to hold on to it permanently.
This proposal is a blatant attempt to undermine legislators and leave them powerless, beholden to special interests and unions. Many even claim that Prop. 204 will be deemed unconstitutional as it directly interferes with the ability of the legislature and Governor to properly execute the budget making process. While that may be the last resort, it does not need to come to that.
If citizens are educated to the true nature of Prop. 204 and can get past the flowery title, this initiative will die at the ballot box. Arizonans were willing to temporarily chip in and pay more in 2010 to avoid disaster, but with the economy improving daily, voters will not allow special interest groups to levy a permanent tax burden on the state and handcuff the capitol during times of future hardship.