Editor's Note: These letters to the editor have been sorted by topic by the Tribune editorial staff in an effort to allow readers to read varied opinions on the issues, candidates, and other circumstances surrounding the 2012 general election. These submissions are the opinions of the author, not the Tribune, and have not been edited for grammar or content.
Stop exploiting our children
It’s time for special interest groups and government to stop exploiting children to justify tax increases for education. For years I’ve listened to and seen propaganda portraying children’s future being at risk because of funding. It’s a weak excuse to appeal to our emotions. The problem is not with funding but with poor leadership. I’m an advocate for a strong education system but tax increases are not the magic fix. Arizona consistently ranks at the bottom in education, has a high dropout rate, and we see no improvement. School programs and staffing have been cut yet the state reported a surplus of revenue for this year. Where is our tax money being spent? Having taught in a east valley school district, I have seen mismanagement by administrators at school and district level. A solution would be to limit the time (three-five years) administrators could remain at a school/district. Introducing new staff would bring new, creative ideas.
They should be required to spend time teaching in the classroom. Vote no on Proposition 204.
Proponents say the measure will produce a better- educated, skilled workforce. Interestingly, they have been saying there’s no problem with our system, just lack of money. Will the money go exclusively to education? I guarantee if Prop 204 is passed, we will be asked for more tax increases within a year. We will hear that our children’s future is at risk. Meanwhile, administrators will be sitting comfortably bidding time for retirement.
Nothing will hace changed.
Legislators have destroyed education with cuts
Since our current legislators have destroyed (with over $2 billion in cuts!) the future of our schools and education of our children, we must hold our nose and vote YES on Prop 204 and then we must elect politicians who will find a way to properly fund our system so our kids are prepared for the 21st Century workplace. Please, voters. Know your issues, know your candidates.
Who will replace this burdensome tax system with a REAL program we can all get behind?
One penny adds up to better future for state
How much is a penny worth? Voting Yes on Proposition 204 will renew the one cent sales tax and dedicate 80% of the funding to education.
What will a penny buy? Yes on 204 strengthens Arizona’s economy by improving the quality of education, making the state more competitive by attracting companies and jobs that require a high-quality work force.
Yes on 204 establishes a state infrastructure fund, creating jobs and helping Arizona’s economy by funding road, rail and transit projects.
Yes on 204 will help to fund scholarships, keeping higher education accessible and affordable. By investing in career and technical education programs, Proposition 204 will ensure that Arizona has skilled workers immediately ready to enter the workforce.
I’ve been a teacher for more than forty years. I know that voting Yes on Proposition 204 adds up to a better future by providing reliable long-term support for education.
Special interest groups reaching into taxpayer pockets
Less than three years ago I fought arm and arm with many Gilbert residents against an unnecessary sales tax increase, Prop 406, as well as the state sales tax increase, Prop. 100. We prevailed in the case of Prop 406 but, unfortunately, our state sales tax increased by one percent.
It is believed that Prop. 100 passed largely because it was portrayed as being temporary. Yet here we are again, fighting Prop. 204, a billion dollar per year permanent sales tax increase! There is no budget crisis on which to blame this tax hike. In fact, we have a budget surplus. There is no reason to further burden Arizona taxpayers. Yet, special interests are combining to reach into the pockets of taxpayers again.
This time, they are bolder, demanding a permanent tax increase to spend at their leisure. There are many problems with Prop 204. The most distressing is that this money will not only be taken from us, but it will also be permanently locked away from our legislature, who we have elected to be the stewards of our tax dollars. The special interest groups divvy up the money amongst themselves, and the taxpayers can’t hold them accountable or expect any real education reform.
Less than 10 cents on the dollar of this tax burden is tied to performance measures in education, and there is no guarantee it will go into the classrooms.
Over the last 10 years, per pupil spending has increased at a much higher rate than population or inflation, and the amount of money that gets into the classroom is decreasing. Are you seeing the quality of your child’s education keeping up with the rate of taxing and spending?
Don’t be fooled that this tax money is all “for the children,” because there are 12 different special interest groups in on this scam, including health care, transportation, welfare, and adult education groups. Not only is Prop 204 the wrong way to obtain and use tax dollars, but it also puts the sales tax burden on Arizona families at the second highest in the nation.
Is that a distinction we want? Is that business friendly? Has your family recovered from the recession enough that you can afford this? High sales tax rates are bad for businesses, families, and our economy.
This sales tax increase will make it more difficult for the legislature to balance the budget. Some of the cities in Arizona will be at a combined sales tax rate of over 10%. Does that alarm anyone? When will these groups have enough money? How many times do we have to stand up and say that we are taxed enough?
I have said it before and will say it again, no! No on Prop 204.
We all should have seen this coming
We all should have known it was a lie when we were assured in 2010 that the billion dollar tax increase we saddled ourselves with would be temporary. Taxes are rarely temporary. Once the politicians, bureaucrats, unions and special interests dupe us into punishing ourselves for the waste and mismanagement of the aforementioned groups, good luck wresting the billion back. Well, this time it won’t take luck, but wisdom. Let’s stop punishing ourselves for the failures of one of the worst education systems in the country.
Instead, let’s hold the education bureaucrats and the unions responsible for the disaster they’ve created instead of allowing them to burn more of our money. Make no mistake — this is not about “the children” for supporters of this unnecessary tax. It’s about their own wealth and power. Despite massive increases in “education” spending over the years, the results produced by the education establishment have been abysmal. It’s obviously not a matter of money, so let’s not allow them to hide behind that excuse anymore. Vote NO on 204.
Politicians need to find smarter ways of spending funds
I am a full-time student at the University of Arizona, and am writing to advise you to oppose Prop 204. This proposition, which is a permanent 1% sales tax, will ultimately cost the taxpayers of Arizona $1 billion per year. There is absolutely no guarantee that money will touch educations and/or jobs. Education is funded by alternate financial sources anyway.
I was also upset to discover that the Arizona Student’s Association (ASA) applied a mandatory $2 fee to my Fall 2012 tuition costs, which was then given to a committee that is campaigning for Prop 204. Therefore, I have personally donated a much larger amount to a committee that is fighting against Prop 204.
Our economy is suffering and we are taxed enough right now.
Our politicians need to find smarter ways of allocating funds and spending money more responsibly than simply trying to tax residents to generate more money.
NO permanent tax increase. NO on Prop 204!
Proposition exploits children, helps special interests
I will vote NO on Proposition 204 because it exploits teachers and children to fund special interests that have nothing to do with the classroom.
I took a close look at the “Quality Education and Jobs Initiative” – all 15 pages. I wondered why the word “jobs” was tacked on to an initiative that claims to focus on education.
This boondoggle will permanently increase our taxes to the tune of at least $1 billion a year. Giving AZ the second highest sales tax in the nation.
After capturing $1 billion a year in protected spending, the proposition hands out the money to designated “funds” – more than a dozen total. It literally sends millions every year to special interest “funds” barely connected to education.
The most glaring example of this special interest funding is the $100 million set aside every year for the construction industry that builds everything from roads, light poles, rest stops, parking structures, landscaping and light rail. It evens allows for the purchase of new vehicles!
Some may say the good outweighs the bad. But the reality is that the Proposition 204 campaign is a deceptive Trojan horse.
Voters should reject it.
Education is a public good, not a special interest
When pursuing an economics degree, I studied “public goods”. I recalled this term when seeing “vote yes” and “vote no” signs on PROP 204, which extends the 1 cent sales tax primarily to fund education, on a road trip from Tucson to NAU. My son (17) and I discussed if funding public education is a “public good” or a “special interest giveaway”.
A public good is an “item whose consumption is not decided by the individual consumer but by the society as a whole, and which is financed by taxation. A public good (or service) may be consumed without reducing the amount available for others, and cannot be withheld from those who do not pay for it. Public goods (and
services) include economic statistics and other information, law enforcement, national defense and other things for the use and benefit of all.”
In the strictest definition, public education is not a public good; K-12 students can be withheld from attending a school due to district boundaries. Otherwise, public education is a public good as it is so valued in our democracy that elementary and secondary schools are free of charge due to providing “spillover” benefits to society.
A special interest group advocates for one’s own benefit and self-interest. A public interest groups advocate for causes for society as a whole. Public interest groups are advocating for Prop 204. Funding public education is a “public good” not a “special interest giveaway”.
Arguments against prop 204 are “not meant to be true”.
Who do you trust: Politicians or educators?
Please join me in voting YES on Prop 204. In keeping the sales tax rate right where it is, we can guarantee that these dollars will get to the schools. The piece that makes so many politicians against it is the very piece that makes it so great. It prohibits the Governor and Legislature from raiding the funds to pay for profiteering private prisons.
And this line that the money can’t be assured of going to the classrooms? Malarkey! The dollars are appropriated in the very same way as other state educational dollars from the general fund have been forever.... right into the state’s funding formula. I guess it comes down to trust at this point. Do you trust the politicians who every election season promise that education is a priority and then get amnesia on November 7? Or do you trust the people who dedicate their lives to children all year long? As a life-long educator, please vote YES on Prop 204!
Vote No on Prop 204
Prop 100 was meant to be a temporary sales tax increase to get Arizona through a tough economic time and to balance the budget. It did that. Arizona now has upwards of a billion dollar surplus and no longer needs the second highest sales tax rate in the nation(only Tennessee is higher but they have no income tax). Currently Phoenix has a 9.3% sales tax rate and some cities in Arizona have over 10% rates! We all want the economy to get better and stronger. High sales tax rates have a strong negative impact on businesses as people will take their retail money to the internet, leaving local businesses holding the “out of business” sign. Prop 100 was temporary. Prop 204 is PERMANENT and will cost every Arizonan hundreds of dollars a year in taxes. If Prop 204 passes it will never be repealed and Arizonans will have to live with the consequences for generations. As a 19 year Arizona resident I respectfully ask all Arizonans to vote NO ON PROP 204. Thank you.
Tax will become part of state’s constitution
One important fact that they are not telling you about Proposition 204. Proposition 204 is not simply a continuation of the existing temporary 1% sales tax, it is a permanent tax that will be part of the Constitution of Arizona and can never be changed. Even if you think giving more money to education is a good thing, you need to ask yourself this question; do you really want a tax to be part of the Arizona Constitution that can never be changed?
That would mean in the future if we didn’t need the 20% that is earmarked for heavy construction; too bad it is in the Constitution that it has to go for that and nothing else.