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Yumans learn about ballot propositions at town hall
Yumans learned about the nine propositions that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot at a nonpartisan town hall hosted by the Secretary of State's office on Wednesday.
“Our goal is to explain what each proposition does in a neutral manner,” Pat Viverto, voter outreach director, said.
Audience members also heard from official supporters and opponents of some of the ballot measures, with both sides given the opportunity to make brief statements and take questions from the crowd.
Only three “official” supporters and opponents – for propositions 120, 121 and 204 – spoke at the event.
Proposition 120, according to the state's publicity pamphlet, would repeal Arizona's disclaimer of all right and title to federal lands within the state and declare the state's sovereignty over public lands and all natural resources within its boundaries. This excludes Indian reservations, lands of the United States and lands over which jurisdiction has been ceded by the state.
A member of the group “No on Prop 120” urged the audience to vote against it. She claimed the state wants to control natural parks, forests, monuments and wildlife refuges and undermine laws designed to protect the environment.
An audience member said he'd rather have the state “looking over it than someone in Washington, D.C.” Another woman said she hoped the state would do a better job of taking care of those resources than the federal government.
“The federal government has gotten a big F in my book in how they've managed federal lands,” Rep. Russ Jones said.
Another resident called it “secession talk.” “We went through this in the 19th century. We don't need to revisit it.”
Prop 121 would implement a top-two style open primary system, replacing the current two-party elections.
Joe Yuhas spoke in support of the measure, noting that choosing candidates based on party lines does not “solve the problems.” He said a nonpartisan top-two election would level the playing field and allow all voters to participate. He added that Jones, who lost his seat in the Republican primary, would still be on the ballot had Prop 121 been in force today.
However, Gary Knight spoke against it. “I'm not a fan of the two-party system, but this will take away voters' choice.”
Prop 204 would permanently increase the 1-cent- per-dollar sales tax for educational programs, public transportation projects and human services; forbid reductions to current K-12 and university funding; and forbid reductions to the current state sales tax base.
Jones objected to it, noting the sales tax approved in 2010 was meant to be temporary. “As it currently stands, through initiatives like this, we only manage 29 percent (of budget funds) ... We have very few tools when we only have that much available. He noted the money is not even earmarked for teachers.
“The state is already spending 50 percent of the budget on education ... and now they want us to tax ourselves more so they can throw money at it when they haven't addressed anything. The money needs to go to the teachers and the kids and not the hierarchy,” Knight said.
114 - Prohibits crime victims from being subject to a claim for damages for causing death or injury.
115 - Increases the term length of Arizona Supreme Court justices, Appellate and Superior Court judges to eight years and raises the retirement age from 70 to 75.
116 - Gives a tax break to business with newly acquired equipment by setting the amount exempt from annual taxes and machinery purchased after 2012 to an amount equal to the combined earnings of 50 Arizona workers.
117 - Sets a limit on the annual percentage increase in property values used to determine property taxes to no more than 5 percent above the previous year, and establishes a single limited property value as the basis for determining all property taxes on real property, beginning in 2014.
118 - Changes the distribution formula for the State Land Trust Permanent Endowment Fund, which funds schools and other public institutions, to be 2.5 percent of the average monthly market values of the fund for the immediately preceding five calendar years. It would affect fiscal years 2013 through 2021.
119 - Lets legislature enact a process to exchange trust land if related to protecting military installations.
The propositions are fully explained in a publicity pamphlet available at www.azsos.gov.
Mara Knaub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (928) 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.