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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Our guide to the 2008 ballot propositions

    Proposition 100
    We say: No.
    As a rule, if an amendment seems unnecessary, it probably is. Proposition 100, which seeks to prevent lawmakers at any level of Arizona government from taxing real estate, isn’t just unnecessary; it’s a bad idea.
    Amendments with absolutist language should also rouse our concern. We’re certainly opposed to unnecessary taxes, but a blanket ban on a certain type of tax is simply unreasonable. Even some businesses are opposed to the measure.
    The state is in serious debt. Legislators are undoubtedly going to have to take drastic actions to fix that, and we ought to be wary of anything that ties their hands. Taxes might be used for a lot of frivolous things, but taking away lawmakers’ ability to even discuss a new tax is unrealistic and ill-advised.


    Proposition 101
    We say: No.
    In his Oct. 26 Washington Post column, George Will called for Arizonans to set “”a good example”” for the rest of America by passing this proposition, and to set the stage for a clash between state and federal authority if a national health care program were ever passed. While it would undoubtedly be entertaining to watch, we’re going to have to disagree with Will.
    Since no health care package seems likely to pass through the Arizona legislature any time soon, Proposition 101 seems like a peculiarly pointless measure. Its only purpose seems to be to tie the hands of legislators in the distant future.
    But conservatives who fear an intrusive state should consider this: Arizona already has a health care system. This amendment might interfere with legislative attempts to improve it. That’s more than enough reason to oppose it.


    Proposition 102
    The story: Would amend the Arizona Constitution to state that, “”Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.””
    We say: No.
    Hands down, this stands as the single worst proposition on the ballot.
    Since same-sex marriages are already prohibited in the Arizona Constitution, it’s hard to see any reason for this proposition. The reason is as simple as it is absurd: a minority of Arizonans apparently detest gay people so much that they wish to see those partnerships deprived of any recognition whatsoever. The Supreme Court overruled state governments’ ability to outlaw interracial marriages in 1967, but as Arizona’s continuing series of anti-gay initiatives shows -ÿwe shot down a similar proposition in 2006 – bigotry and invasive legislation remain as alive as ever.
    In April, Arizona finally approved domestic partner benefits for state employees. Until recently, the UA and ASU were the only Pac-10 universities that didn’t offer benefits to employees in domestic partnerships. “”This fact not only prevented our employees from gaining access to needed health care services, but also interfered with our ability to recruit and retain top faculty and staff,”” former UA President Peter Likins said in a statement. Rewriting explicit discrimination into the Arizona Constitution could very well be used as an excuse to attack these benefits.
    As the political philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote in 1959, “”The right to marry whoever one wishes is an elementary human right.”” Proposition 102 is an appalling assault on that right.


    Proposition 105
    The story: Would require a majority of all registered voters, not just those who actually vote, to approve a ballot initiative if it involves taxation or state government spending.
    We say: No.
    People frequently complain that propositions mask their true intentions with garbled, confusing language. But sometimes their intentions are all too clear.
    This simple-sounding measure seeks to get rid of citizen-backed initiatives altogether. It does so by the astonishing suggestion that we should count non-votes as “”no”” votes. It would undermine democracy in Arizona by making it all but impossible for any initiative to get passed.
    If Proposition 105 were passed, its most likely impact on Arizona politics would be the curtailing of citizen involvement in their government. Since almost every initiative would be overwhelmingly likely to fail, citizen groups would have little reason to try to get them on the ballot.
    While the proposition comes disguised as a pro-citizen measure -ÿappealing to our dislike of excessive taxation or government spending – it would actually prevent citizens themselves from passing anything that required any money whatsoever. In short, it would deprive Arizonans of their right to participate in their own government. It’s hard to imagine a more insidious measure.


    Proposition 200
    We say: No.
    As the Daily Wildcat argued Oct. 7, this is a truly deceitful measure. It was written by the payday loan industry itself, and its only purpose is to save a predatory practice from a timely demise.
    All other lenders are capped at a 36 percent interest rate. Payday loan stores can only exist if they’re allowed to charge ridiculously exorbitant interest rates -ÿ459 under the current law, 391 under Proposition 200.
    We understand the free-market argument that people should have the right to take risks as they see fit. But we don’t understand why all loan companies shouldn’t be held to the same standard.
    The Arizona legislature made a serious error when it chose to legalize the underground payday loan industry in 2000. The result has been to encourage reckless borrowing habits and poor financial responsibility.
    The payday loan stores that dot Arizona’s poor neighborhoods are a blight on our community. We’ll be happy to see them fade away right on schedule in 2010.


    Proposition 201
    The story: Would require a minimum 10-year warranty on new homes and require sellers to hire qualified contractors to complete any and all repairs, permit a homeowner to sue homebuilders without having to pay for builders’ attorney costs and would give buyers of new homes the right to cancel within 100 days and get back most of their deposit.
    We say: No.
    As students, we aren’t exactly the target of this measure. Like most students, we don’t own our own homes. But we’re all affected by the state of the Arizona economy, and the so-called “”Homeowners’ Bill of Rights”” would hurt the housing industry by saddling it with legal landmines.
    Builders are rightly concerned about the measure because it would force them to give ridiculously long warranties and leave them open to reckless lawsuits. Even being in the right wouldn’t protect them: under the measure, builders would be obliged to pay all their legal costs no matter what the outcome of the case was.
    Advocates insist on the need for regulation. “”There’s been very little oversight or checks for the home building industry because it’s been the economic engine for the state,”” Linda Brown of the Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation told CNN this week. “”It’s been the Wild West for them.””
    But is there any pressing need for “”oversight”” in this industry? Isn’t it the responsibility of buyers to make sure they really want that new house? We favor regulation if it’s needed, but this feels frivolous and unnecessary.


    Proposition 202
    The story: Would revoke the business licenses of employers who hire illegal immigrants, whether they knew they were illegal or not. Increases penalties for identity theft. Fines collected will be distributed to schools and hospitals.
    We say: Yes.
    While we categorically oppose the anti-immigrant bigotry that leads to crusades to purge the workplace of alleged illegals, we’re giving our qualified approval to Proposition 202. Despite the harsh-sounding language, the measure would actually protect businesses from being wrongly penalized for hiring illegal immigrants. The proposition would rule out anonymous tips and allow employers to use other methods than E-Verify to check the immigration status of new employees.
    While it isn’t ideal, we think Proposition 202 is a much more sensible immigration measure than we’re likely to see come out of the state legislature anytime soon.


    Proposition 300
    We say: No.
    We’re sympathetic to the fact that Arizona legislators haven’t seen their salaries raised in a decade. Unfortunately, this proposition couldn’t have come at a worse time. Raising the salaries of legislators at a time when a lot of Arizonans are wondering whether they’re even going to have jobs next year is downright unconscionable. Even Gov. Janet Napolitano has come out against it.
    The measure comes at a bad time for the country and the state. With 90 legislators in the state government, funding the pay raise would cost $540,000. With the state facing a $2 million shortfall, can we really afford to spend more than half a million boosting our legislators’ salaries?
    Let’s see if they can manage to pull the state out of its deficit. Then we’ll talk.


    Proposition 403
    The story: Would expand Tucson Unified School District’s current budget limit by 10 percent for the next five years. The budget increase would be paid for by increasing the district property tax.
    We say: Yes.
    The importance of public education is one of the few things most of us seem to agree on. So why is it that public schools have so much trouble getting funding?
    We couldn’t agree more with the importance of this budget override, particularly in light of TUSD’s recent troubles. Some people are complaining that the district doesn’t know how to manage the budget it already has, but the additional money would go to cap class sizes – something studies have shown is crucial to effectively teaching K-8 students – as well as expanded arts education and recruiting and retaining better teachers. Sounds pretty unimpeachable to us.
    No one likes paying higher taxes, but we think it’s worth the expenditure -ÿand the price tag isn’t particularly bad this time around. The measure would cost every homeowner in Arizona an extra $127 a year, which amounts to about 35 cents a day. That’s significantly less than most of us spend on our morning cup of coffee.


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