Newcomers to Arizona from eastern states often wonder what all the fuss about ballot initiatives is. Arizona became a state at the height of the Progressive Era in American history so the populist principle that citizens could initiate their own laws was enshrined in our State Constitution. Republicans in the legislature have tried to undermine this in recent years, but the right of citizens in Arizona to create new statutes, to amend statutes, and to amend the Constitution by initiative and referendum is alive and well in Arizona.
Last summer, many of our party members circulated petitions in support of what is now known as Prop 305, an initiative to repeal the school voucher expansion enacted by the legislature in 2017. There was an attempt in the legislature this term to modify the voucher law they passed in 2017 in order to kill Prop 305, but that effort died in the face of the #RedforEd demonstrations that faced the legislators in their last days of this session. This means that a NO vote on Proposition 305 in November should kill voucher expansion (“empowerment scholarships”) once and for all. Current eligible students will continue to be eligible – mainly, students with special needs and that is a good program for special need students, but the expansion is a boondoggle for private charter schools that would drain funds from public schools. Read more about Prop 305 here.
We are supporting the Outlaw Dirty Money initiative and the Invest in Education initiative. Terry Goddard, former Attorney General, who is leading the charge on the Outlaw Dirty Money initiative spoke to our Monthly Precinct Committee Meeting on the 12th and then went on to a non-partisan luncheon in downtown Flagstaff. Also at the Precinct Committee meeting, we heard from representatives of the Arizona Education Association, which is sponsoring the Invest in Education Initiative. These initiatives are consistent with the National Party Platform and the values as expressed in our County Party Mission Statement and Agenda for 2018.
Likewise, the County Party has taken a position in opposition to Prop 418, which is an initiative to repeal the Flagstaff minimum wage. This initiative is deceptively titled the “Sustainable Wages Act” and would repeal the law which a large majority of the Flagstaff electorate voted for in 2016. While we sympathize with some of the concerns expressed about the Living Wage Act perhaps moving too fast (it has gradual increases that will result in a $15 minimum wage 3 years from now), the overwhelming majority of our precinct committee people (93% of those polled) and the entire Executive Committee oppose repeal of the Act. Furthermore, the concept of a Living Wage of $15 per hour is part of our National Party Platform. Some of our candidates disagree — we are not a “litmus test” party regarding the manner in which our candidates choose to advocate for the reduction of income inequality, so long as they stand for that important principle. Read more about this initiative here.