Editorial: Election guide - statewide propositions

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 26, 2004

So you want to be an informed voter, but don't want to labor over the fine print of Arizona's numerous propositions? We've got you covered. Below you'll find a brief synopsis of each statewide proposition on the ballot, and our analysis of how to vote. Still too much to handle? Do yourself a favor: At the very least, read up on propositions 102 and 200. They're by far the most important issues being turned over to voters next Tuesday. We promise you won't regret it.

Prop. 100 would amend the Arizona Constitution to allow the state to swap state-owned lands for other public lands. Similar propositions have made the ballot five times since 1990, and have been rejected each time by voters. While the ability to swap lands could be a useful tool for the state government, this proposition fails once again to provide adequate guidelines for such exchanges and to guard against swaps that would end in net losses for taxpayers. The absence of such safeguards makes the proposition irreparably incomplete. We recommend you vote NO.

Prop. 101 would amend the Arizona Constitution by changing procedures for voter initiatives and referendums. It would require all initiatives to identify a committed source of funding before they could be placed on the ballot. In essence, it would require people to find the money to pay for the initiatives they propose. However, the proposition forbids the use of general funds for any initiative, whether it be a $300 million education package or the creation of a $1,000 one-time stipend for a committee member. Its inability to establish thresholds for expenditure and duration make it unworkably vague. We strongly recommend you vote NO.

Prop. 102 would allow universities to receive stock in tech companies in exchange for the rights to universities' patented creations. The passage of the proposition is vital, as it would allow Arizona to compete with states that already permit such revenue-generating exchanges. It is supported by, among others, Sen. John McCain, Gov. Janet Napolitano, the presidents of all the Arizona universities and the board of regents, the mayors of Tucson and Phoenix and numerous student leaders. We strongly recommend you vote YES.

Prop. 103 would change the qualifications for what are, essentially, substitute Justices of the Peace to bring them in line with the less-stringent requirements of elected justices. It would restore the efficient operation of the system interrupted in 2002 by the statutory interpretation of the state's courts. Opposition to this proposition has been nonexistent, with good reason. We recommend you vote YES.

Prop. 104 would also amend the Arizona Constitution by changing procedures for voter initiatives and referendums. It would allow petitions supporting the inclusion of initiatives on the ballot to be signed beginning 27 months before, and ending seven months before, the election - changing the times from 24 months and four months, respectively. While this may seem inconsequential, it would strip voters of the ability to create initiatives based on the Legislature's late-term proceedings and eliminate the opportunity to collect signatures in what are generally the three most fruitful months. The amendment would have the net effect of abridging citizens' constitutionally guaranteed right to the initiative process. We recommend you vote NO.

Prop. 105 would change the makeup of the state board of education to include one additional lay member and one representative of the charter school system. Because 10 percent of Arizona's public school students attend charter schools, the schools must be represented on the board. We recommend you vote YES.

Prop. 200 would require citizens to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote, voting and collecting state benefits. It would also require state employees to verify and report the immigration status of all those seeking such benefits. The proposition has received a lot of bad press since it made the ballot, and it's all deserved. This proposition would transfer responsibility for verifying citizenship from the federal government to the state and would critically exacerbate already worrisome obstacles to legal citizens' exercise of the right to vote. It allocates unlimited and unspecified funds to the treatment of a problem that doesn't exist - that of illegal immigrants attempting to vote. We strongly recommend you vote NO.

Prop. 300 would raise the salaries of state legislators from $24,000 to $36,000. Legislators' salaries are woefully inadequate given the amount of work they do and the importance of that work. Many Arizonans criticize the quality and efficacy of our state legislators. The only way to ensure that qualified and enthusiastic candidates for those positions are forthcoming is to make legislators' salaries competitive with those they could be earning in other professions. Salaries as they stand are an embarrassment to the entire state. We strongly recommend you vote YES.

Staff opinionns are the opinion of the Arizona Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. Its members are Susan Bonicillo, Nate Buchik, Evan Caravelli, Brett Fera, Caitlin Hall, and Andrea Kelly.