Originally Published: April 25, 2016 6 a.m.
In response to Prescott Councilwoman Billie Orr’s column for a “Yes on Proposition 123,” why the Citizen Tax Committee recommends a “No vote on Proposition 123.”
Proposition 123 is a con game, it is a poor attempt at a temporary solution for a long-term problem that needs to be solved by the state Legislature in a responsible manner. The League of Women Voters agree and call the proposition a “fraud on the people” and a manufactured crisis by Gov. Doug Ducey.
The proponents for Prop 123 claim an increase to school funding without raising taxes. This is not true. The more affluent school districts such as Prescott Unified School District (PUSD) will receive a tax increase, according to current Arizona Treasurer Jeff DeWit; former Arizona Treasurers Dean Martin and Clark Dierks; Kent Frison, associate superintendent of Operations and Finance with the Cave Creek Unified School District; and the Arizona Republic (azcentral.com), to name just a few.
Another claim by the proponents of Prop 123 is it will raise salaries to help retain quality teachers. The National Center for Education Statistics ranks Arizona at 30th for annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools. Arizona is ranked 18th of the 50 states for teacher salaries, according to the Rasmussen College.
Arizona is ranked 49th in classroom spending. There is no requirement that 100 percent or some percentage of the Prop 123 money goes “directly” to classrooms. The distribution of funds rests with the superintendents and school boards. There is no directive or accountability in the spending of taxpayer money.
Locally, teachers comprise 50 percent of employees in PUSD and the remainder are the administrative and support personnel. PUSD personnel received two raises totaling 8 percent for the last two years.
According to the Arizona School Board Association (ASBA) and the pro-123 flyer, “The settlement of the inflation lawsuit is a good first step; but it is only a first step.” Presently, Arizona spends 42 percent of the state’s budgeted funds on education. The ASBA website states “Prop 301’s sales tax expires in 2021 and must be renewed – and hopefully expanded.” It is clear the school systems expects a great deal more of additional funding.
The Prop 123 flyer states the land trust will be protected. This is not true. At the accelerated payout of 6.9 percent, proposes by Ducey, the principal will be reduced. This is in conflict with the Enabling Act of 1910. Five previous and the current Arizona Treasurers oppose Prop 123, contending Prop 123 pulls more money from the land trust than can reasonably be replenished over the next 10 years. The land trust was established to fund Arizona education FOREVER.
Finally, facts are not emotional, they are objective. They are not colorful, like the flyers and TV commercials. They do not pull at the heartstrings or use children as puppets for financial gain. By definition, facts are true. Emotions are feelings that are subjective and can be distorted and used to one’s advantage. Please put aside the emotions and research the facts. Vote No on Proposition 123.
President, Citizens Tax Committee