With early ballots scheduled to be mailed later this week, the Free Enterprise Club has released our recommendations for each of the statewide initiatives on the November ballot. There are a total of five measures on this year’s ballot, three of which are proposed amendments to Arizona’s constitution.

We believe that our recommendations are consistent with the Club’s mission of promoting economic freedom, limited government and a strong and vibrant economy in Arizona.

Prop 125–Vote YES

Amends the state constitution to allow for additional legislative reforms to the Correctional Officers Retirement Plan (CORP). While they are limited in scope, the proposed legislative reforms will reduce future liabilities and pension debt for taxpayers.

Prop 126–Vote NO

Would amend Arizona’s constitution to prohibit any future changes to Arizona’s tax code related to service taxes. While the Club opposes higher taxes, we do not support locking our sales tax code in the constitution into perpetuity. Additionally, taxpayers are already protected from future tax increases under Prop 108 (which requires a 2/3 vote to raise taxes).

Prop 127–Vote NO

Tom Steyer backed initiative that would insert a 50% renewable energy mandate into Arizona’s constitution. The Club opposes sweeping changes to our Constitution that will raise costs and picks winners and losers (SRP and other government utilities are exempt from the mandate).

Prop 305–Vote YES

Referendum that will expand Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program to allow parents to send their child to a private school of their choice. The ESA program is capped at 30,000 students and includes transparency and accountability measures in the program. The Club supports expanding choice and opportunities for parents and students, and Prop 305 is a step in the right direction.

Prop 306–Vote YES

In 2016 it was discovered that candidates that finance their campaign with taxpayer money funneled over $100,000 of those funds to political parties. Instead of fixing the problem, the Clean Election Commission codified the abuse, and even expanded the rule to allow public funds to go to political special interest groups as well. The Club urges a YES vote on Prop 306, which would prohibit any taxpayer funded candidate from giving those funds to political parties or special interest groups.

Since the 1970s, Arizona has appointed judges to the state Supreme Court based upon a merit selection system.  An independent body of citizen-appointees recruit, interview, evaluate and select candidates for these higher courts and forward that slate of candidates to the Governor when a vacancy occurs.

This system is often lauded by both sides of the aisle because it ensures a much higher quality bench, keeps judges separate from the influence of politics, and limits the amount of money in judicial retention/rejection elections.

But some groups quickly abandon these tenets as soon as they receive a ruling they simply don’t like.

In August, the Arizona Supreme Court issued separate rulings that barred two propositions from the November ballot.  The court concluded that Prop 207/Invest in Ed created “a significant danger of confusion or unfairness” by not accurately describing the increased tax burden on affected classes of taxpayers as well as failing to reference the elimination of the bracket inflation indexing.  The Outlaw Dirty Money initiative simply lacked enough signatures to qualify.

Following the rulings, a group of angry activists came together to call for a rejection of two Justices whose terms are up for retention on the ballot: Justice Clint Bolick and Justice John Pelander.

Since their appointments, both Justice Bolick and Pelander have been fair-minded judges that have demonstrated a strong commitment to upholding and protecting the Arizona constitution. They have even reached decisions that have displeased both sides of the political aisle. One example of their independent streak occurred in 2017 when a coalition from the business community–led by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce–sued over the constitutionality of Proposition 206, the minimum wage law.  Both Bolick and Pelander ruled against the plaintiffs, a decision that was cheered by many of the same liberal groups now seeking their ouster.

The importance of protecting the impartiality of the judicial branch cannot be understated.  The good news is that both Justice Bolick and Pelander have proven to be unafraid to honor their duties to uphold the constitution and strictly interpret the law as written – despite whatever the political backlash may be.  And given the partisan political campaign now being waged against them, it is all the more reason why Arizonans should vote to retain Bolick and Pelander.

If more evidence was needed to support the idea of donor privacy and anonymous speech in elections, the reaction by the left against the ‘Invest in Ed’ and ‘Outlaw Dirty Money’ court rulings should settle it.

It’s been two weeks since the Arizona Supreme Court barred both ballot measures from appearing on the ballot, and the backers of both measures are now waging a campaign to target and harass anyone that supported the legal challenge.

Angry activists and various labor unions began a coordinated effort to protest outside of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and any other private group that participated in exposing the legal flaws and signature issues with both measures. Appropriately named “Fightbacknews” chronicles on their website how these protests were designed to go after not just the private non-profit entities, but to “out” every business or individual that dared to oppose their agenda.

Social media groups supportive of Invest in Ed and Outlaw Dirty Money have been openly discussing strategies to expand their intimidation campaign, both now and in the future. And since the issues they are championing—education funding and donor disclosure—are generally supported by the establishment/liberal media, news outlets have ignored the deployment of these thug tactics to target political free speech. This is especially ironic, since anonymous speech has been the cornerstone of almost all reporting (and even entire books) by the mainstream media since Donald Trump became president.

None of this is really new. Efforts to target people for their political beliefs has intensified in recent years, often with an assist from government officials and politicians. Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich was forced to resign after furious attacks against him for his support of Prop 8 defining marriage between one man and one woman. Prosecutors in Wisconsin launched a corrupt investigation targeting conservative donors that was finally shut down by the Supreme Court last year. And no one should forget the IRS targeting of conservative groups that finally ended with a large payout to victims and an apology from the agency.

That is what makes efforts such as Outlaw Dirty Money so dangerous. Private citizens should have a right to support causes and issues they believe in without fear of harassment, intimidation or retaliation. Donor privacy is crucial to free speech, and is essential to promoting open dialogue on critical issues. If government or angry social media mobs are allowed to dictate the terms of “debate”, it will lead to far worse outcomes than not knowing the identify of a donor to an organization with whom you might disagree.

Rather than looking to target individuals or businesses engaging in political speech, a better approach would be to encourage more speech and let voters make decisions for themselves.  Since corporate and individual political spending is evenly split between the two parties, it’s not as if either side has an unfair advantage. Let’s look to promote our 1st Amendment rights, not target people who try to exercise it.

 



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The Arizona Free Enterprise Club is a free market policy and advocacy group dedicated to promoting a strong and vibrant Arizona economy.