You’ve likely seen the new television ad from the pro-Proposition 208 campaign. In case you’ve forgotten, Proposition 208 is the initiative to raise Arizona’s top income tax rate from 4.5% to 8%–a 77.7% increase.
If you haven’t been following the back and forth over this initiative, you’re forgiven if you didn’t know its central provision amounts to the largest tax increase in Arizona history. The TV ad doesn’t mention it at all.
Instead, viewers are told that the initiative would restore education funding. Left out of the script is that Proposition 208’s tax increase on small business would deliver such a shock to state revenues that future education funding would be put at tremendous risk. Also left out is that early childhood, community colleges, and universities are left with peanuts.
Proponents also fail to inform viewers that they are relying on the section of tax code with the greatest volatility, leaving no guarantee for funding from year to year and no way for school districts to budget with any predictability. If voters want to deliver a boost in teachers’ contractual pay, they won’t get it from Proposition 208.
The ad touts Proposition 208’s accountability requirements, saying that funds would be “voter-protected.” That has nothing to do with accountability. It’s a statement of Arizona’s existing law that makes it virtually impossible to change a voter-passed initiative. There’s a reason for this obfuscation. There’s absolutely no accountability in this initiative. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
The ad promises a lot. Political ads often do. What the ad doesn’t do is answer how it will deliver.
A political ad urging passage of an initiative that proposes the largest income tax increase in state history that doesn’t mention the tax increase at all? Unlike the script, that says a lot.
Glenn Hamer is president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry