The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the state’s leading business advocacy organization, has announced its support for Proposition 132, which would require that ballot measures calling for the approval of a tax hike be approved by at least 60% of votes cast, rather than the current simple majority.
For the state Legislature to pass a tax increase or establish a new tax, two-thirds of the House and Senate must pass the legislation. There is no supermajority requirement for tax increases that appear on the ballot, however.
Many believe the state’s lower vote passage threshold for ballot measures attracts out-of-state activists to Arizona to try and advance their policy goals here.
In addition to being able to pass tax increases with only a simple majority, it is relatively easy for individuals to circulate petitions in Arizona to attempt to gather enough signatures to secure a measure’s spot on the ballot. Arizona does not require petition circulators to be a registered voter or to be a resident of the state, and there is no requirement that signatures be gathered from across the state, meaning initiative proponents could gather all their required signatures from one city or geographic area, ignoring voters in all other parts of the state.
Some states require a prevailing side to secure more than a simple majority of the vote to adopt a constitutional amendment, but there is no such provision in Arizona law.
Arizona Chamber President and CEO Danny Seiden said Proposition 132 protects taxpayers from out-of-state special interests.
“Arizona’s current system is highly attractive to special interests seeking to game the system to push through tax hikes that they would not be able to pass through traditional legislative means,” he said. “Simply put: the imposition of new taxes on the people should be done cautiously and with broad agreement, whether the taxes are coming from the Legislature or the ballot box. Proposition 132 will align the threshold for passing a tax via citizen initiative with the state Legislature, where a tax increase requires a 2/3 vote to pass.”
In recent elections, tax-raising propositions have barely met the simple majority threshold and have singled out certain groups of taxpayers for higher taxation than others.
“Prop. 132 offers a commonsense and necessary solution,” Seiden said. “Increasing the threshold of votes needed to implement a tax increase will protect and enhance the credibility of Arizona’s citizen initiative system by making it more difficult for outside interests to pursue policies detrimental to Arizona’s economy and our taxpayers.”