One of the more shabby aspects of Proposition 204 is the unholy alliance between the education and construction lobbies that hides taxpayer infrastructure subsidies behind funds for school children and vague promises of jobs.
Labeled the Quality Education and Jobs Initiative, the proposition aims to fill the education and special interest coffers with a one-cent permanent increase in the state sales tax rate. The $1 billion annual take from the tax hike would be allocated to designated “funds” walled off from control by the Governor or State Legislature.
The number one fund would provide $500 million for the “quality education and performance fund” to assist K-12 comply with “assessment and accountability” rules. That sounds like the education bureaucracy at work, but at least the fund is earmarked for children’s education.
Next in line on the list, along with a major social services fund, is the “state infrastructure fund.” It would provide $100 million a year to support road building and public transit. This is not annual funding approved by officials elected to prioritize spending; it is a permanent subsidy out of the reach of taxpayers and the officials they elect to spend their money.
One of the key supporters of Proposition 204 is “We Build Arizona,” an industry association reported to be a major funder of the petition drive to get the measure on the November ballot as well as the campaign to get it passed.
The group boasts a who’s who of construction interests in its coalition, including the Arizona Builders’ Alliance and the Arizona Transit Association. Construction interests are relying on Proposition 204 as the road to permanent subsidies out of reach of the taxpayers and state legislators.
We Build Arizona states its goal clearly: “To protect and grow state and local infrastructure funding.” State spending for education and jobs should be controlled by elected officials, not special interests who seek to “protect and grow” spending on their own terms.