Thursday, August 16, 2007

Debating the merits of Phoenix Propositions 1 & 3

(This debate was last night)

Fellow Phoenicians--

Tonight (Wednesday, August 15th) I will be debating Phoenix Ballot Propositions 1 and 3 at a forum hosted by the Valley Citizens League and the Arizona Republic. The debate is from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., and will take place at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Avenue (on the west side of Central, just south of the deck park over I-10).

With regard to Proposition 1, I will emphasize an important question that Phoenix voters need to consider:

If Mayor Gordon and the members of the Phoenix City Council really think police and fire need an additional $60 million a year, why have they voted to spend over $300 million on programs other than police and fire during each of the past two years?

Put differently, what did Mayor Gordon and the City Council think was more important than police and fire? Some answers: This year, they voted for the following spending increases (among many other program increases): Convention Center, $6 million; Golf, $1 million; Libraries, $3 million; Parks and Recreation, $10 million; Housing Projects, $17 million; Development Services, $6 million; Transit, $29 million; Tax Dodges for Politically-Connected Developers: $10 million.

With regard to Proposition 3, I will emphasize three problems:

1) Prop 3 is NOT needed to increase public safety budgets. The Arizona Federation of Taxpayers (, has produced a budget worksheet, showing some ways Phoenix can reduce spending by $1 billion per year, while at the same time increasing spending on police, fire, emergency management, and criminal justice budgets by five percent. Included in the worksheet are oversight costs for long-term concessions and also transition costs for the concessions.

2) Prop 3 relies on threats and scare tactics. Politicians who tell Phoenicians that the defeat of Prop 3 would mean cuts in police and fire need to be removed from office. Those politicians are dishonest (they would not actually vote to cut public safety budgets), or they are irresponsible (they would vote to cut police and fire before cutting nonessential services), or they are too confused to hold public offices requiring them to be custodians of taxpayer money.

3) Passage of Prop 3 will prevent Phoenix from making significant tax reductions. The Arizona Federation of Taxpayers worksheet shows that budget reductions would generate General Fund savings of over $150 million annually. $102 million could be used to ELIMINATE THE CITY’S PRIMARY PROPERTY TAX, and the remainder could be used to reduce city sales tax revenues by over ten percent (city sales tax revenues are $425 million annually).

Tom Jenney
Executive Director
Federation of Taxpayers
A state chapter of Americans for Prosperity
(602) 478-0146

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