Proposition would require tax hikes to pass with higher vote threshold

Arizona’s business community and Gov. Doug Ducey support Proposition 132, which would require ballot initiatives that seek to raise taxes to pass with at least 60% of the votes cast. 

Under current law, all initiatives – including those that raise taxes – pass with a simple majority. 

In arguments for the proposition published by the Secretary of State’s Office, several associations representing job creators argue that passage of Proposition 132 would guard against damage to the Arizona economy and taxpayers. 

“Proposition 132 will provide an added degree of protection for Arizona taxpayers regarding future efforts to increase taxes in statewide elections,” Arizona Tax Research Association President Kevin McCarthy said. “Ensuring that future tax increases garner broad public support is good policy and creates needed stability in Arizona’s tax code.” 

Voters have previously voted to require a higher vote threshold when it comes to tax increases. Proposition 108 in 1992 said that the Legislature required a two-thirds majority vote to pass any legislation seeking to raise taxes. The amendment to the state constitution passed with more than 70% in support. 

“At the legislature, we have to have a supermajority vote on any tax increase. It’s only fair that voters have the same safeguard at the ballot box,” state Rep. Tim Dunn, R-Yuma, wrote. “If we are asking Arizonans to part with more of their paycheck, it needs to be for something that has broad agreement from every part of the state.” 

Dunn was the original sponsor of the legislation to refer the measure to the ballot. 

Joining in support of Proposition 132 is Gov. Ducey, who wrote in his argument, “Requiring a 60% vote for a tax hike also means putting a check on out-of- state special interest groups. In recent years, we’ve seen groups from San Francisco and Portland spend tens of millions of dollars pushing initiatives to raise our taxes for their pet causes. That’s not right.” 

The Oregon-based Stand for Children in 2020 backed Proposition 208, which sought to raise Arizona’s top individual income tax rate to 8%. The initiative narrowly passed with 51.75% support but was later struck down by the courts because it was unconstitutional. 

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry in its support of the proposition cited out-of-state activist groups’ influence over the Arizona initiative system. 

“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,” Chamber President and CEO Danny Seiden said. “Increasing the threshold of votes needed to amend the state Constitution 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.” 

In addition to ATRA and the Arizona Chamber, supporters include the Arizona chapter of the real estate advocacy group NAIOP, the Goldwater Institute, the Foundation for Government Accountability and the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. Opponents include the Arizona Education Association, which along with Stand for Children was one of the leading backers of Proposition 208, as well as the Glendale Union Education Association, Tucson Education Association and the Mesa Education Association.

Robert Clarke

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