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Thu, Feb. 20

Proposition 301 needs a 'yes' vote on Nov. 7

With each election, people ask me my opinions on ballot propositions. This year we have 14 to consider.

Begin by crossing prop 107 off your information guide. It might have eliminated the state income tax but the State Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

Two growth propositions are on the ballot, 100 and 202. 100 is an extension of Governor Hull's Growing Smarter growth plan. It allows the state to set aside a small portion of state land (about 3 percent) for conservation purposes instead of selling it to support public institutions. It is a small, but not insignificant, start toward committing the state to conserve part of Arizona's unique environment.

Prop 202 (known as the Citizens Growth Management Initiative) ensures that citizens, not developers, control where, when and how growth takes place in counties and communities with populations greater than 2,500 people. Developers would have to pay their fair share of the costs of growth.

Slowing growth may have some short-run, negative economic consequences, but in the long run it insures that we will not outgrow our water resources or ruin our environment. Proposition 202, in general, has the support of all those organizations in the state that represent people's interests and the opposition of those who represent developer interests. Vote "yes."

Prop 106 is my favorite. It takes the legislative redistricting task (the drawing of new legislative districts that takes place every 10 years after the completion of a new census) out of the hands of legislators who draw self-interested boundaries and places it in the hands of a reasonably neutral commission. Almost every responsible body in the state favors this prop. Please vote "yes."

Prop 301 is Governor Hull's proposal to give education better financial support in Arizona by increasing the state sales tax by six tenths of 1 percent. Certainly we have better ways to pay for quality education than by raising the sales tax. But it is unlikely the Arizona Legislature would adopt any of these options. Thus 301 is our only hope for raising teacher salaries and better supporting our kids. I say go for it. Vote "yes."

Each of props 200 and 204 spends the tobacco settlement money in a different way. Both offer good ideas. I wish the sponsors had gotten together and proposed one solution. I'm going to take a chance on this one and vote "yes" on both and hope a single, satisfying conclusion emerges from the confusion of their both passing.

Prop 103 increases the number of Corporation Commission members from three to five. Vote "yes."

Prop 102 is crazy. Vote "no."

Prop 108 would allow Qwest rather than our elected Corporation Commission to set phone rates. That's like asking the fox to manage the hen house. Vote "no."

Prop 101 doesn't really do very much but I don't like the people opposed so I'll vote "yes."

Prop 105 makes cemetery property ineligible for property tax. Vote "yes."

Prop 300 increases legislative salaries. I don't need to tell you what to do on this one. I'm voting "no."

That leaves only prop 203 that deals with teaching English as a second language (ESL) in Arizona's schools and prop 104 which freezes property evaluations for seniors. Both are more complex than they seem. Borrowing Sam Steiger's well known words, they are one-size-fits-all props dealing with difficult problems that we ought to handle at the local level.

I favor total immersion programs for kids through grade seven. They work great for young children but badly for older ones. We ought to have ESL classes for older students just entering the system and allow parents to decide between immersion and ESL for their older children.

We may all come to regret freezing property values for seniors as California has come to regret its infamous prop 13.

For these and other reasons I'm voting "no" on both these props but believe me when I tell you that both will win approval no matter what I say.

(Justin Green wrote about and taught politics for 25 years before retiring to Prescott.)

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