Decision 2012

Oct 25, 2012 8:00 PM by John Overall

Prop. 204 would make 1-cent sales tax permanent to fund schools, roads

TUCSON- Arizona voters have nine propositions are on this year's ballot, including Prop 204, The Quality Education and Jobs Act.

Proposition 204 asks voters to make a temporary one-cent sales tax permanent.

It will bring in an estimated $1 billion a year that would be used for education and roads.

Proponents of 204 believe Arizona's education system needs that money to keep pace with the rest of the country.

Those opposed to 204 also believe Arizona needs to put more money into education but they say the Quality Education and Jobs Act is bad policy. "I think the greatest flaw with Prop 204 is that it funds things other than education," said State Treasurer Doug Ducey. "There's a $100 million dollars in this bill that are going to road contractors and there's not one dollar mandated to teachers or classrooms."

Ann-Eve Pederson isn't a politician, she's a mom, concerned about her son's education. She's passionately pushing for Prop 204. "There is no one who can question that this is going to be good for children, for teachers, for classrooms, for schools and for the state's economy," Pedersen said.

If 204 passes, 80 percent of the funds would go towards education and 20 percent would go to transportation and other projects.

Pedersen says those opposed to 204 aren't fighting against funding education; she believes they're fighting to hang onto the purse strings.

"It's about control, this is about control, they don't want taxpayers to have control over how their own tax dollars are spent," Pedersen said.

Ducey denies that charge. He says it's all about fiscal responsibility. Two years ago, voters approved the temporary tax when the state was in bad financial shape, he said.

But Ducey says Arizona is doing much better financially and now is not the time to raise taxes."I can tell you that we have $1 billion in our operating account and $450 million in our reserve account earning interest. If we need more money for education, and it's quite possible we do, let's use the dollars that we have today," Ducey said.

The state may be doing better financially, but school districts like Tucson Unified are drowning in debt, and Pedersen believes Prop 204 can be the lifeline.

Ducey says Prop 204 would give Arizona the second-highest sales tax burden in the country, and that's not what we need in this economy.

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