The Tribune Editorial Board doesn’t endorse any candidate for office. But we do share our views with readers about ballot measures as part of our role as a community watchdog and political observer. The following is a summary of where we stand on various state and local issues before voters in the Nov. 4 general election.
This should be treated as a guide and starting point for readers to develop their own opinions about election issues and then decide for themselves how they will vote.
Proposition 100 — YES
What it would do: A constitutional amendment to permanently bar any new taxes on the sale of real estate.
Pro: Keeps government from adding a new tax burden on everyone.
Con: Keeps government from accessing a new source of revenue to fund government services and possibly reduce other forms of taxes.
Our view: Arizona doesn’t have a real estate sales tax now; approving this measure does no harm while preventing potential new taxes in the future.
Proposition 101 — YES
What it would do: A constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to use private health insurance or to directly pay for medical care.
Pro: Protects freedom of choice for both patients and doctors.
Con: Depending on court interpretation, could prevent state Medicaid program from using managed care to control costs.
Our view: We endorse any effort to limit further government takeover of the business of health care, which merely shifts the ultimate costs while limiting options.
Proposition 102 — NO
What it would do: A constitutional amendment that says marriage in Arizona can only between one man and one woman.
Pro: Arizona law carries this marriage definition, but the courts could overturn it as happened in California and Massachusetts.
Con: Arizona Supreme Court already upheld current law.
Our view: Marriage should become a private religious institution, not the subject of government sanction and discrimination.
Proposition 105 — NO
What it would do: A constitutional amendment to require a majority of all registered voters approve any ballot initiative that would increase taxes and government spending, or that would mandate a spending obligation on private groups. The current standard for passage is a majority of votes cast for or against an initiative.
Pro: Limit the ability of special interest groups to use the initiative process to pass unpopular, illogical laws.
Con: No initiative approved by voters in at least the past 20 years would have passed under this amendment.
Our view: Not voting is a choice and a right, one that would be revoked by this measure.
Proposition 200 — YES
What it would do: Permanently allow payday lenders to operate in Arizona (current law is set to expire in 2010), establish new limits on the interest fees that could be charged and other reforms.
Pro: Provide a means of short-term borrowing for people unable to get such loans from traditional lenders such as banks.
Con: Annual interest rate of up to 391 percent far exceeds legal limits on bank loans; payday lending can become a trap for the poor and fiscally irresponsible.
Our view: Responsible reforms would eliminate worst practices of payday lending; consumers shouldn’t have options artificially limited by government intervention.
Proposition 201 — NO
What it would do: Require new homebuilders to offer comprehensive, 10-year warranties and impose other requirements on resolving disputes.
Pro: Force homebuilders to be more accountable for their work, shift power to homebuyers who discover problems months or years after sale.
Con: Artificially inflate costs of new home construction, more disputes would wind up in court instead of mediation.
Our view: This union-driven initiative would be a litigation nightmare and is completely unnecessary as extended warranties are already available to buyers willing to pay for the additional protection.
Proposition 202 — NO
What it would do: Reform the 2007 state employer sanction law to require proof that an employer had direct knowledge of hiring an illegal immigrant and that complaints must be written and notarized. The measure also increases the penalties for identity theft and creates new penalties for paying employees under the table.
Pro: Would limit frivolous or racially motivated complaints against employers, hold businesses accountable for conscious violations of federal immigration laws in this state.
Con: Eliminates requirement to use federal employment eligibility program (E-Verify); establishes a fine that could violate federal law; some businesses covered by current statute might be exempt.
Our view: While we like several elements of this measure, we oppose using the initiative process in this manner, which would make fixing mistakes far more difficult than the employer sanction law passed by the Legislature.
Proposition 300 — NO
What it would do: Raise the salaries of state lawmakers from $24,000 a year to $30,000.
Pro: Legislative salaries are far below those of most other states of similar population, last raise was in 1998.
Con: Higher salary could encourage lawmakers to move even further away from part-time citizen Legislature.
Our view: Lawmakers will deserve a pay raise when they figure out how to adopt a budget in a timely manner, instead of putting it off until the last minute.
Mesa Proposition 400 — NO
What it would do: Amend the city charter to allow code enforcement to inspect the interior of apartments and other rental units without search warrants.
Pro: This measure would make it easier for the city to identify and correct poorly maintained rental units, reducing the likelihood of “slumlords” operating in Mesa.
Con: Reduces property rights of legitimate landlords and could interfere with privacy rights of renters.
Our view: Landlords have the same Fourth Amendment rights as everyone else.
Mesa Questions 1 and 2 — YES
What it would do: Approve $159 million in bonds for police equipment, fire stations and street construction. The Mesa City Council has pledged to adopt a secondary property tax to repay the bonds, at an average of 17.18 cents per $100 of net assessed value.
Pro: The council scaled this proposal down from earlier versions; the secondary property tax must expire once the bonds are paid off.
Con: City is likely to request voters to approve new bonds in the future and continue the secondary property tax.
Our view: In principle, we support a Mesa property tax to address the city’s critical needs. But we fear this request comes too soon after Mesa voters rejected a property tax in May 2006.
Tempe Question 1 — YES
What it would do: Approve $113.3 million in bonds for water and sewer systems including new pipelines, improved security equipment at treatment plants and expand treatment capacity.
Pro: Bonds would be repaid through water and sewer fees instead of tax dollars.
Con: Additional debt contributes to future fee increases.
Our view: City needs to keep pace with maintenance needs.
Tempe Questions 2 and 3 — YES
What it would do: Approve $76.2 million in bonds for street construction, storm drain improvements, renovation of the police/courts building, upgrade police radio system, improve fire stations and build new ones.
Pro: Projects are central to government functions of public safety and transportation.
Con: City must maintain higher tax rate to repay debt.
Our view: These maintenance projects represent critical government functions and debt would be repaid within existing property tax revenues.
Tempe Question 4 — NO
What it would do: Approve $51.8 million in bonds to renovate neighborhood parks, upgrade city museum, install new scoreboard at Diablo Stadium, improve lighting at other sports facilities.
Pro: Such projects improve quality of life and tourism.
Con: State and national economic problems are starting to affect city tax revenues, projects are not essential to core government operations.
Our view: These issues could be postponed for a year or two until economic picture improves.
Proposition 412 — YES
What it would do: Adapt an updated general land-use plan to prepare for “buildout,” the point at which little previously undeveloped land remains. Specific changes include allowing more locations for commercial and industrial development; identifying street corridors where residential development could rise above 18 dwellings per acre.
Pro: Shifts city’s focus away from new construction and toward redevelopment and revitalizing or protecting established neighbors and commercial areas.
Con: Would allow higher density for more land uses; potential future conflict between new land owners and established uses.
Our view: A smart move that allows Chandler to tackle new problems methodically instead of playing catch-up after buildout arrives.
Proposition 411 — YES
What it would do: This is a referendum of a special-use permit issued for a new Ritz-Carlton 225-room resort northwest of Lincoln Drive and Scottsdale Road. The project is also slated to include up to 161 condos or town homes.
Pro: Expand Paradise Valley’s tax base while continuing town’s emphasis on residential land uses and no property taxes.
Con: Density for condos would be much higher than Paradise Valley’s standard for residences of 1 acre per unit.
Our view: Hotel-condo combinations are the current trend for high-end resorts; valuable land would remain unused if special permit is rejected.
Chandler Unified School District
Maintenance and operations spending override — NO
What it would do: Authorize the district to keep exceeding spending limits by 10 percent, or $19.5 million a year, for seven years.
Pro: Maintains current budget with no proposed tax increases.
Con: Property taxes are higher by 21 cents per $100 of net assessed value with override in place.
Our view: Please see editorial on Page F2.
Central Arizona College Bond Question — NO
What it would do: Authorize $98.98 million in construction bonds to launch satellite campuses in San Tan/Johnson Ranch area and Maricopa, and double the amount of classroom space at the Apache Junction campus.
Pro: Pinal County’s only community college would expand to keep pace with rapid population growth.
Con: Would establish secondary property tax rate of 16.93 cents per $100 of net assessed value.
Our view: CAC’s proposal is scaled back significantly from a 2005 bond package rejected by voters, and the governing board has been lowering primary property tax rate. But homeowners and businesses need that tax relief in the current economic climate.
Tempe schools consolidation
Maricopa Unified East District “A” — NO
What it would do: Combine Tempe and Kyrene elementary school districts with Tempe Union High School District into a single district for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Pro: Part of a statewide consolidation plan, would eliminate overlapping districts and potentially save tax money by improving economies of scale and ending redundancies.
Con: At an estimated 44,000 students, a combined district would be larger than the state consolidation commission reported would be optimal to balance budget savings with educational quality.
Our view: Final consolidation proposal driven by politics, not by best available research; too many unanswered questions about how Tempe districts would merge operations.
Tempe Union High School District
Question 1, Bonds — YES
What it would do: Allow Tempe Union to issue $30 million in construction bonds to replace roofs, upgrade heating-cooling systems and other major projects. Property tax increase would be 4 cents for every $100 of net assessed valuation.
Pro: Would repay state loan for replacing ventilation system at Corona del Sol High School.
Con: Takes on additional debt for some projects that should be funded with cash.
Our view: The district has to pay for the emergency repairs at Corona del Sol; this would be smallest component of the school district’s property tax bill.
Question 2, Maintenance and operations spending override — NO
What it would do: Authorize the district to keep exceeding spending limits by 10 percent, or $6.3 million a year, for 5 years. Property tax rate would be 12 cents per $100 of net assessed valuation.
Pro: Legislature hasn’t adjusted school district funding formula in nearly 30 years; this override is a routine part of district funding for teacher salaries, textbooks, etc.
Con: Voters rejected continuing override in November 2007; property tax set to expire in 2010-11 school year.
Our view: Please see editorial on Page F2.
Question 3, Capital outlay override — YES
What it would do: Restore $6 million a year, for seven years, to fund upgrades and repairs for district buildings. Property tax rate would be 11 cents per $100 of net assessed valuation.
Pro: Legislature has failed to meet its own standards for funding school building maintenance over last decade; this override fills that gap.
Con: Voters rejected continuation of override in November 2007.
Our view: State funding isn’t going to improve in next few years, district can’t afford to allow maintenance problems to pile up.
Higley Unified School District
Maintenance and operations spending override — NO
What it would do: Continue $4 million maintenance and operations budget override, which has been in place since 1994.
Pro: Maintains teacher salaries and classroom sizes without raising property taxes.
Con: District troubled by debate about keeping superintendent; board missteps including tax-funded voter survey after scheduling the election.
Our view: Please see editorial on Page F2.
Florence Unified School District
Capital outlay override — NO
What it would do: Raise $1.8 million each year for seven years to buy and replace computer technology, interactive white boards and document cameras in the classrooms and throughout the district.
Pro: District would pay cash for equipment that typically has short life span.
Con: Property tax rates would rise an estimated 35 cents per $100 of net assessed value.
Our view: Override would erase recently lowered property tax rate; this plan probably can wait a year or two until economy improves.