Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Arizona Proposition 204 is Really About Special Interest Money

Proposition 204 – the Quality Education and Jobs Initiative – not only sets aside permanent spending for the education bureaucracy and road building, it also provides social services spending for families and children out of reach of the officials elected to spend the taxpayer’s money.

Few citizens would argue that the state should provide funds for education and social services within year-to-year budget constraints. But many citizens would argue against automatic and permanent spending free of control by elected officials.

That is what Proposition 204 does with a number of social services programs for families and children. The funding would be allocated through two of the seven “designated funds” dictated by the initiative.
Funding for all the proposition’s “designated funds” would come from a permanent one-cent increase in the state sales tax rate. The tax hike would yield $1 billion a year.

Proposition 204 calls for $500 million annually for K-12 compliance with “assessment and accountability rules” and $100 million for the “state infrastructure fund.”

The next $100 million would go to match federal funds for the “family stability and self-sufficiency fund” to support families living below the federal poverty level. Another $25 million would go to the “children’s health insurance program fund” to reduce
costs for publicly funded health care programs for poor children under the age of 19.

These laudable social service programs deserve consideration by the states elected officials. They are designed to serve the state’s citizens in need of financial assistance.

Regardless, they should not be lumped together with other special interest spending walled off from consideration by elected officials. This is spending on automatic pilot that ignores the consent of the governed. The proposition should be defeated on November 6.

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