I’d like to take this opportunity to write about the current ballot measure, Tucson’s Proposition 101.
You might not know that we are currently in an election cycle for propositions, as this one is rather unusual in both its timing and its brevity.
However, there have been may flyers circulating letting everyone know that they should vote “yes” on Tucson’s Prop 101. If you’re not in Tucson, you may not have noticed. If you’re in Tucson, you must have been flooded with these “YES” messages, and you may want an unbiased perspective.
I’m not that one.
I would like people to vote “NO” on Prop 101 and I can tell you why to vote “NO” on or before this coming Tuesday, the 16th of May.
What Prop 101 Does
In general, though, I think all sides agree to this:
Prop 101 takes money from everyone who buys anything in the Tucson City Limits, by way of an increase in the sales tax of .5% (the total sales tax will jump from 8.1% to 8.6%) for a minimum of five years.
Also, the excess money which is gathered from the sales tax increase will be applied to purchasing more hardware for the city police, and then fire departments, and then the remainder will be used to resurface a few roadways.
Everyone agrees that any monies gathered will not be used to fund higher salaries for TPD officers or fire personnel, nor will it go to fund pensions, nor raises in salaries of those who are currently on the TPD and fire forces. It will not go to hiring more community police “beat walking” officers, and no money will be allocated to having better TPD training for new and existing officers.
The money will go to more militarization, think war toys, for TPD, primarily. Tucson should not be taxing the poor to be at war with its citizens.
This means that this piece of legislation is bad for people, bad for police and fire, pad for the poor and middle classes, and bad for tourists and travelers.
Claims Being Made
The backers of Prop 101 claim that this city-authored ballot proposition is primarily for roads: for their repair and resurfacing, although this is in no way true or correct.
What is actually written in the bill is that only 40% of the taxes collected will be used for roads: 24% of the total taxes for major arterials and 16% for residential streets.
What is worse is that there basically *is* no residential plan. What passes for a plan to resurface residential streets is far to broad and overreaching, not at all specific, and far too ambitious.
Moreover, the RTA is already doing residential resurfacing through the end of the year, which will improve the conditions in the neighborhoods which most need the repairs.
Furthermore, Prop 101 backers continually cite a citizens oversight committee, which they say will dictate where repairs are being made, but this committee is never established in the actual text of the law. That’s right, there is no provision to create an oversight committee, and City Council will have to meet and establish one, or perhaps not, in which case, no such committee would ever exist.
Given that this tax could be permanent, but would certainly last for five or more years, it is my guess that the City of Tucson is just raising taxes under the guise of street improvements, but may just be using this method to line its own coffers.
The bulk of the money collected with this new additional tax on all city residents and visitors will actually be used for police. That’s right, TPD would get the lion’s share of this money, and it is not being used for purposes which would benefit the city as a whole. Some of this 60% also would presumably go for Tucson Fire, although the numbers are not even close to those given to TPD.
I do not agree that it is just honky-dory to give 60% of this new tax to further more Police Militarization of TPD.
There will be absolutely no money for the officers themselves. This means that hard-working officers would get zero pay raises, no more money for pensions, and Tucson would have no more foot patrols, or any more money for community policing, which we so desperately need.
This is all just a classic “throw money at it” move without any positive effect to speak of.
In addition, Ward 4 would get most of the new sales tax money allocated for TPD.
Now I, Michael Oatman, am running for City Council in Ward 6, but Ward 6 gets absolutely nothing for TPD, and only gets $700K for one fire station. This is along side all other wards, which get at least $24 million; WTF?!?!
This Proposition is just straight up BAD for Ward 6, and in no way could I vote other than NO on Prop 101.
You can view the full text of the proposed amendments to the law at the City’s website (https://www.tucsonaz.gov/files/clerks/2017_CIY_-_Special_Election_5-16-17.pdf).
Put An End To Regressive Taxes
This Proposition would raise money by the implementation of an additional one percent sales tax. Now in general, and in this case specifically, a sales tax is a flat tax, which applies to everyone who purchases any taxable thing within the Tucson City Limits.
There are taxes which are progressive, like the federal income tax (unless el Trumpo changes that), which do not adversely affect those with lower and no or fixed incomes, and disproportionately tax the rich, who can already afford it.
There are also taxes which are regressive, like sales taxes, which tax everyone at the same rate. This is inherently worse for middle and low income folks since the amount of tax charged to people who cannot afford it removes money from those people who need all the money they can get just to survive.
This is why a flat, or sales, tax is unfair. Suppose you taxed someone with two million dollars a 50% tax rate (we wish, right?). They’d still be a millionaire. But if you taxed someone with only one dollar a 50% tax rate, that person would no longer even be able to take the SunTran bus.
People need a Universal Base Income in order not just to survive, but to thrive. It is simply cruel to tax that.
For this reason, regressive taxes like a sales tax are inherently unfair to poor and middle income people, unless of course the law is written so that part of the money collected under the unfair sales tax goes to support those people with low and middle incomes.
This proposition includes no such provision. With this sales tax increase, Tucson City is telling everyone that they do not give a crap about poor people or the middle class, which is pretty much everybody in Tucson. What a great idea, NOT!
By passing this proposition, Tucson is making poor people pay for ever-increasing TPD militarization, which should not be happening in the first place!
An Election So Soon?
Now actually, I am a fan of short voting cycles, say, when it comes to electing the President: I think we do not need to drag it out for two or more years. But the election cycle has to be *at least* a month at the very minimum for it *not* to be some sort of “sneaky election”. In reality, this election cycle spans all of just three weeks! This is a total sham which is being rammed through in no time, because if people had more time to vote, they would, and they would certainly vote NO! on Prop 101.
As a matter of fact, this election cycle was so sudden and brief, that in the election pamphlet itself, sent to voters by mail, there was simply no time for anyone to write an article supporting a “NO” vote or position on Prop 101. Talk about sneaky.
The Democrats who support this chicanery are out of touch, and for that matter, so is the Tucson Weekly, as is obviously the Arizona Daily Star, who all somehow support a yes vote, despite the detriment to their consituents.
It is my conviction that the people of Tucson in general, and particularly those residing in Ward VI, can do far better for ourselves than by what is proposed in Tucson Proposition 101. Please always vote, and certainly Vote NO! on Tuesday, May 16th!
SO PLEASE GO VOTE! And Please Vote NO on Prop 101!
Thank you for all that you do,
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