Although early voting has started for the Primary Election, a lot of attention has been focused on the initiatives slated for the November ballot. Many are aware of three of the ballot initiatives which are currently in the middle of legal challenges, but there are a few other proposals that voters will consider this fall.
Prop 125: Public Retirement Systems
HCR 2032 would make adjustments to retirement plans based on cost-of-living, instead of permanent benefit increases, for correctional officers, probation officers, surveillance officers (Corrections Officer Retirement Plan or CORP) and elected officials (Elected Officials’ Retirement Plan or EORP).
The Arizona Constitution provides that public retirement system benefits shall not be diminished or impaired. This ballot referral “would amend the constitution to create an exception to the prohibition against diminishing or impairing public retirement system benefits by allowing for certain adjustments” to CORP and EORP. Specific to CORP, Senate Bill 1442 will replace the current permanent benefit increase with 15 new compounding cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for retired corrections officer members and survivors of retired correction members who were hired on or after July 1, 2018. On the same token, House Bill 2545 would amend EORP by replacing current permanent benefit increases with a new compounding COLA for retired elected official members and survivors of retired elected official members. The bills regarding cost of living adjustments were already signed into law and are not subject to voter approval.
Lawmakers who support amending the state constitution to allow legislative changes to retirement plans want to ensure Arizona’s future financial stability. The initiative has faced opposition from police and fire unions who fear future pension reductions, but sponsor of the initiative, Representative David Livingston, is confident that change is necessary. “We’re fixing how the inflation rider works by changing from a policy, management, and budget (PMB) rider to a cost of living rider,” he said. “It’s a simple fix, but it will have a very positive effect on pensions and beneficiaries. That’s why we had 100 percent support in the house and senate.”
Prop 306: Clean Elections
This legislative referral would make changes to the current Citizens Clean Election Act, which provides public funding for candidates for statewide and state legislative offices. It would prohibit candidates from making direct or indirect payments from their campaign account to a political party or a “private tax-exempt organization that is eligible to engage in activities to influence the outcome of a candidate election.”
The referral would also remove the Citizens Clean Election Commission’s exemption from Arizona’s rulemaking requirements and require the commission to receive approval from the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council to finalize any rule changes.
The initiative’s greatest support comes from the Stop Taxpayer Money for Political Parties Committee, led by Scott Mussi, president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, who believes that Arizona needs to regulate the reach of government funding within political campaigns.
Prop 126: Protect Arizona Taxpayers Act
This initiative would amend the state’s constitution, prohibiting all government entities (state, county, municipal, and other subdivisions/taxing districts) from imposing new or increasing transaction-based taxes, fees, stamp requirements, or assessments on any services performed in the state or the gross receipts of sales/services performed here. It will not repeal any tax, fee, stamp requirement, or assessment that was put into effect before December 31, 2017.
If it passes, the initiative would provide constitutional security to prevent future taxes on certain family, healthcare, personal, and professional services.
“This policy change is being pursued because several legislators, candidates for Governor and political pundits are talking about adding a new tax on all services,” said Holly Mabery,
Chairperson for Citizens for Fair Tax Policy. “The Protect Arizona Taxpayers Act will prevent damaging sales taxes from being placed on services. A new service tax unfairly burdens small businesses; our services and labor must be defended.”
The above-mentioned initiatives are not currently facing a legal challenge and are poised to be on the November ballot.