Ballot measures create an interesting stew - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Ballot measures create an interesting stew

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Posted: Wednesday, November 8, 2006 5:21 am | Updated: 2:50 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Arizonans faced the longest list of ballot propositions in recent history Tuesday, and a predictable mix of intense advertising campaigns, misinformation, common sense and voter fatigue combined to produce a rather unruly set of results, which is hardly surprising from a list of 19 measures.

Tuesday’s apparent results reflect social conservatism (limiting illegal immigrants’ rights and access to public programs), a sense of fiscal fairness (averting skyrocketing property tax levies, giving cities the ability to raise debt ceilings) and social moderationto-liberalism (affirming animal rights, increasing the minimum wage, rejecting a gay-marriage ban).

Some results were predictable: Support for animal rights in Proposition 204 won’t inflict too much pain on business, as it affects only one farm in the entire state.

And a frustrated Arizona electorate, longing for immigration reform from Congress but getting nothing but a virtually unfunded border fence plan, was prompted to pass all four propositions dedicated to the issue. Yet voters declaring English as the state’s official language for a second time will do little to change most use of Spanish by government officials in communicating with speakers of that language.

Arizonans put democracy ahead of greed as they shredded the ridiculous “you can’t win if you don’t vote” proposal that would have paid up to $1 million in unclaimed lottery money to one randomly selected voter. They raised the minimum wage, which affects far fewer people than many voters believe it does, in spite of a curious opposition campaign based on questionable claims of loss of privacy.

Voters approved an excellent plan to better educate preschoolers, even though its funding source, tobacco taxes, may prove to be unable to provide a steady income in the future.

And voters approved restrictions on the government’s power of eminent domain by passing Proposition 207, despite its likelihood of bloating the state bureaucracy and providing little more protection to private property owners than they already have in the Arizona Constitution.

Yet the electorate also created some surprises. Arizona’s overall conservative-leaning voters, despite the recent influx of more moderates from other states, apparently defeated the gay-marriage Proposition 107. The measure clearly went beyond defining marriage by including provisions limiting certain government employee benefits. Voters recognized that.

Voters handily defeated the just-awful Proposition 105, the Legislature’s midnight attempt to pacify developers and cattle interests. And late Tuesday the outcome of Proposition 106, the widely supported effort to enable more state trust land to be preserved, was too close to call. If it fails, some land earmarked for preservation would likely be unattainable and more apt to be sold for development.

In local questions, late Tuesday is seemed that north East Valley voters were more conservative regarding school-budget questions than south East Valley voters, as capital overrides in Fountain Hills and Scottsdale were heading toward defeat while construction-bond questions in the Chandler and Higley unified school districts were winning handily.

Mesa residents saw a bright future in ASUPolytechnic and a downtown Mesa Community College campus, both of which will significantly benefit from voter approval $261 million in bonds for city utility pipelines and other improvements.

There was no trend to this election’s ballot questions, only the best solutions voters believed they could offer to a too-long list of issues.

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