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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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10/7/2010 10:40:00 PM
2 props seek to boost ailing Arizona budget

Joanna Dodder Nellans
The Daily Courier

State legislative leaders warn that if voters don't approve propositions 301 and 302 on the Nov. 2 election ballot, the Legislature will have to make millions of dollars worth of new cuts to this year's budget and future budgets.

"There will be a lot of bad things happening if these (propositions) don't pass," warned Senate Majority Whip Steve Pierce, R-Prescott. The Legislature put both propositions on the ballot.

Those cuts will come in some of the last resort areas such as education, social services and public health care, Pierce said. Those are about the only areas left to cut after previous major cuts, he said.

House Majority Whip Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, and Republican LD1 candidate Karen Fann of Prescott also support both propositions to help the state's ailing budget.

Both propositions seek to take money from funds created by previous voter-approved ballot propositions that got on the ballot through citizen initiatives, putting the money instead into the state's general fund.

Prop. 301 would take "Growing Smarter" money now used to conserve special state trust lands, such as important wildlife habitat. Voters approved the idea in 1998. Local trust lands that groups are trying to conserve include Glassford Hill and "P" or Badger Mountain.

Prop. 302 would take "First Things First" money now used for early childhood health care and education. The First Things First money still would go toward health and human services for children, but the Legislature would decide where. Pierce said it probably would go into the Department of Economic Security.

Growing Smarter's annual $20 million appropriation already comes from the state coffers, and its appropriations are scheduled to expire this year anyway.

First Things First money comes from an 80-cent tax on packs of cigarettes.

The Yavapai County Regional Partnership that oversees distribution of First Things First money in this county allocated $3.6 million to early childhood development applicants this year. Their programs include teaching parenting skills, child care center quality improvement, mental and physical health consultants for child care centers, nurse home visitation for children in foster care, emergency food boxes, diapers, books, child care center scholarships, foster care system improvements, child care provider scholarships, community coalitions, home visitations to improve parenting skills and child health, and United Way's "Successful Lives" project.

"It's well-intended, but we can't afford it right now," Pierce said.

Prop. 301 would move about $50 million from the Growing Smarter's Land Conservation Fund to the state general fund, according to Secretary of State Elections Director Amy Bjelland. Only one supporter filed a comment in the state publicity pamphlet, the Arizona Tax Research Association. Six opposition statements include those from the Sierra Club, Arizona Education Association and League of Women Voters.

The state general fund could get an estimated $325 million annual boost from the First Things First fund. Supporters include the Arizona Tax Research Association and Arizona Chamber.

Prop. 302 has more than 50 opponents in the publicity pamphlets, including groups that receive First Things First money. Several groups also have put money into a campaign against the proposition, including several Indian tribes (such as the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe), the Children's Action Alliance and the Arizona School Boards Association.

Legislative District One Democratic candidates have voiced opposition to both propositions. LD1 House candidate Lindsay Bell said both the Land Conservation Fund and First Things First are good programs. LD1 Senate candidate Bob Donahue said the Legislature shouldn't thwart voter-approved initiatives, and argues that children establish their education patterns by the age of 5 so First Things First is important to Arizona's future.

Fann said the Land Conservation Fund is not that effective, and First Things First programs are "bells and whistles."

For more information, see the Secretary of State's website at

PROP. 301

Analysis by Arizona Legislative Council

The Land Conservation Fund consists of monies appropriated from the state general fund and money received as donations. $20,000,000 was appropriated annually for 11 years from the state general fund to the Land Conservation Fund. The final appropriation is scheduled in fiscal year 2010-2011. Money in the fund must be used to award grants to:

1. Acquire and conserve state trust land or development rights in state trust land.

2. Implement conservation based management or reduce production on state lands leased for agricultural purposes.

Proposition 301 would transfer the remaining balance in the Land Conservation Fund to the state general fund.

PROP. 302

Analysis by Arizona Legislative Council

Proposition 302 would:

1. Redirect the ongoing tobacco tax revenues that are currently deposited in the Early Childhood Development and Health fund for deposit in the state general fund, to be separately accounted for and appropriated for health and human services for children.

2. Transfer any remaining uncommitted Early Childhood Development and Health fund money to the state general fund on December 1, 2010.

3. Terminate the Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Board on Dec. 1, 2010.

4. Repeal the Early Childhood Development and Health program statutes on June 1, 2011.

The Early Childhood Development and Health Fund consists of revenues generated by an $.80 per pack tax on tobacco products and donations and state appropriations. The fund is administered by the Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Board and is required to be used for the following purposes:

1. Funding central and field offices, employing staff and establishing and appointing regional partnership councils, which make funding recommendations to the board.

2. Disbursing money for programs and grants that increase the quality of and access to early childhood development and health services for children up to 5 years of age and their families.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Article comment by: Matthew Capalby

Bells and Whistles? Really Karen? It's obvious you're ignorant of the programs relating to "First Things First". That's like saying the engine of a car is an added feature. Please educate yourself in the future before making such silly statements.

Posted: Monday, October 11, 2010
Article comment by: Dorsheimer Sheila

Az. preschool teachers need you to vote NO on 302. This help train the teacher that are teaching young children. Do you know this is the time that the brain of a child from birth to 3 year is do most of it growing and if we can not, as teacher have the training to work with these child (birth - 5 years), they will miss out on the time to build the building block for the foundation of their future education.

Posted: Saturday, October 09, 2010
Article comment by: But didn't Brewer say she balanced the budget?

We know she said she did, but she has quite a penchant for lying. We know she didn't balance the budget. We know the GOP legislature FAILED us.<
What are these scoundrels going to take from you next?

Posted: Saturday, October 09, 2010
Article comment by: Final Total?

So... at the end of the day - after the one cent sales tax increase, selling the Capital, cashing the ARRA checks, selling the lottery and if 301 and 302 both pass - will the AZ legislature have raised/siphoned/swept more revenue than they made in cuts?? I'm guessing yes... Enough already!!

Posted: Saturday, October 09, 2010
Article comment by: keen observer

I agree that this is exortion being practiced by these three GOP candidates. Two of the three, by the way, are multi-millionaires who do not worry about meeting the vital functions met by these voter-protected funds.
Pierce keeps talking about buying back state buildings from the private sector. But both he and Lucy Mason were absent when the vote was taken which resulted in the buildings' sales. We lost state funding for parks and Sharlot Hall because no one would help Andy
Tobin because of his erratic "birther" fixation about President Obama. Karen Fann can be expected to act in the same fashion. Yavapai County has not had true, publicly spirited representation for more than two decades. Agreed: If they are for it, vote no. If they are against it, vote yes.

Posted: Saturday, October 09, 2010
Article comment by: Grass Roots

I got a robocall from Rose Mofford saying to vote against 302 "for the children." If Rose Mofford is against it - I'm for it. Look what Democrat policies are doing to this country thanks to Obama, Pelosi and Reid. Let's go in the opposite direction of the big-spending, always-taxing Democrats.

Posted: Saturday, October 09, 2010
Article comment by: I'm Sick And Tired

I'm really sick and tired of always hearing how the state needs money to "help the kids". 1% sales tax here, 80 cents a pack there... and if they don't get the money, then education and public safety will be cut.
Go ahead. Do what you must.
But every year the legislature finds a way to increase their paychecks. Make them punch a timeclock like the rest of us. (and make the wage fair, not excessive. )
Cut the Arts and other "elective" (stuff), they can get private funding.

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: Don Keys

Well obviously Pierce, Fann and Tobin are in favor of pulling the voter protected funds.... they are politicians. Just because you mismanaged state funding doesnt mean that you have the right to steal from Voter Protected Initiatives. Theres a reason its protected. Its to ensure you politicians dont get your dirty hands all over it. "There will be alot of bad things happening" Pierce, Like what? your paycheck will be cut? Darn! Tough it out ....Vote no on everything!!

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: Christopher *

So, they want us to vote to use the trust funds that will never be replaced. This is the same Republican Legislature who has pledged their fealty to Grover Norquset on no taxes, in contradiction of their oaths to uphold the AZ Constitution. So, after those funds are spent, then what? What needs to be done is to repeal the last 10 years worth of tax breaks and subsidies for their wealthy friends and corporations. Had that been done, we would not be int he budget mess today. I guarantee that the Republicans will tell you that we need to cut taxes to spur the economy. The real world translation is we (republicans) pander for campaign money and to sell our votes in exchange, (aka, the best legislature money can buy). That action will have no significant gain except to create a bigger deficit. That was true even when the economy is in full gear, and worse in the Republican caused recession. The effect of electing Republican will be to continue to shift the burden of taxes from the wealthy to the low to moderate incomes people and dig a bigger deficit hole. Judge by what they do, not what they say. When the legislature address our upside down regressive tax code, then we can talk about repealing voter approved initiatives. Until then, the answer is 'no' on the propositions. Better yet, throw them out of office because you can't afford to sell anymore of your state government to the highest bidder (literally).

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: Richard Weiss

This is nothing more than legislative extortion. In stead of doing their job of finding the money to support the peoples needs and not institute their ideology. They should be working for the people not against the people.

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: Jaded Mile

More Tea Party fear being shoved down our throats...

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: D. Cassandra

Yes on both! The state should not own any land beyond what it needs for its operations such as courts, prisons, office buildings.
302 is pure welfare. This is redistribution and is nothing more than theft.
Our state government is too large, does too much, produces too many "bads", spends too much. It should be chopped way down.

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: honky brujo

If Pierce is for them, I'm against them. If a Republican is for something it can only benifit them and their rich masters and foreign governments.

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: Pierce needs to man up.

Here it is: CUT STATE WORKERS PAY. But they will never do it because they won't get elected. Wimps. It proves that they don't REALLY care about balancing the budget, they care about their image and getting elected. So now they propose the oldest trick in the book: a sweep. That diverts voter approved monies into other non voter approved programs, like giving raises to prison guards and police, things that voters would never approve. It's really sad that they propose this, and try and spin it like this "if you don't vote for it you'll really be sorry". I won't be be sorry Mr. Pierce. It just might make you man up and do your job for once instead of stealing money that I voted to give to kids. ...

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: The year of NO!

No on 301.
No on 302.
No on incumbents!!

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: Fed Up

Kudos to R.C and Get Real!
The AUDACITY of these three elected officials! They FAIL to balance a budget. They FAIL to honor the voice of the people. They FAIL to be responsible in their stewardship of public funds.
They had no ethical right to push 301 and 302 back onto the ballot. In fact, they have gambled with our money and have budgeted as IF both will pass.
I would feel better "canceling" 302 altogether and give smokers back their $0.80/pack than to hand it over to an irresponsible legislature.
-Live within your means.
-Listen to your constituents - they've already voted on these matters.
-Do your jobs!!

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: An Observer

It is enlightening to compare the Arizona Republic's coverage of these two ballot measures with the Courier coverage. The Republic starts citing the downside to both while the Courier gives free advertising to our elected officials who support these. It is simple: VOTE NO ON BOTH!

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: Conservative Teacher Mom of 3

I am sick and tired of hearing about how MY MONEY needs to be redistributed. I work very hard for MY MONEY! My husband and I work our main job (I am a teacher with a masters degree and my husband is a local busines owner) and then various others to fill in the gaps. Prop 301 was approved with an overwhelming majority to provide more teacher pay however, we have to jump through more and more hoops each year to earn that money! Quit redistributing MY MONEY and pay your own way! If you can't, get another job like we did!!

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: get real...

Vote no on both 301 and 302! These are voter approved propositions that make a difference in the quality of life we live in Arizona. Again, this is another idiotic solution from the no-ideas party to balance the budget. They have no problem spending, and forcing municipalities, to spend millions on SB 1070 that does absolutely nothing to secure the border (which is all they talk about) just so they can ride it all the way to election day. When have they seriously talked about the budget during this election cycle? Both of these two propositions are a ruse to make you believe they are doing something about the budget. They are doing nothing, especially before election.
"Bells and whistles"!? ....

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: R. C.

Propositions 301 and 302 are blatant attempts by our accidental Governor and the Arizona Legislature to repeal two initiatives that were PASSED OVERWHELMINGLY BY THE VOTERS, and to take the money from their voter-approved funding streams and PUT IT IN THE GENERAL FUND. Vote NO on both!

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: There You Go Again

This is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Additional, major cuts in state funding must be made now. We cannot continue business as usual. We taxpayers are out of money.

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: Knot A. Fan

State lands can wait until the economy recovers. And parents are to take care of children not the state. This too can wait for our recovery. How about a proposition to cut staff and freeze salaries of the bureaucracies?

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: Tax Payer

It is already clear that our government does not know the best ways to spend money, although they clearly know a LOT of ways to spend money. The common factor in both of these propositions is that the state sees a way to get their hands on some more money to spend as they wish. I wonder if anyone in state government saw the article on the front page of the Phx paper the other day citing 77% of people prefer cutting spending over tax increases? How about a 15%-20% cut across the board, every department, every level of government? Trust me, they'll figure it out if they are forced into it.

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: Jeff Barter

VOTE with a clear conscious and informed mind. This money needs to get redistributed. The money would be better used " if " it in fact went to DES and it's services.

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010
Article comment by: Raiding the piggy bank

Somewhere I read that the legislature cannot touch money set aside by voter initiatives. So it seems that these propositions are about getting voters to change their minds and let the legislature have that money (otherwise the state would have taken it already in their prior sweeps). So this would net about $375 million, right? Isn't the state in a $5 BILLION hole right now? Lotta good this attempt is going to do! Face it folks, education is still on the chopping block.

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