Increased energy costs, legal and protected recreational marijuana use and sales, taxpayer-financed political campaigns to chill free speech and barriers on attracting and retaining top health care leadership talent could have been the new norm for Arizonans as a result of the 2016 election. Many of these proposals, foisted upon us by out-of-state interests, could have been encoded into Arizona’s Constitution, untouchable by our elected officials.
Fortunately for the business community and Arizona’s economy, almost all of the anti-business proposals from last year fell short of the support they needed to be passed by voters or appear on Arizona’s ballot. However, we didn’t make it out entirely unscathed.
Proposition 206, which requires paid sick time and has already boosted Arizona’s minimum wage to $10 per hour and will continue to increase it each year until it reaches $12 per hour in 2020, is essentially an unfunded mandate on Arizona public and private sector employers. It has already required a $7.7 million increase to the state’s current fiscal year budget and will require an additional $21 million in the state’s 2018 fiscal year budget. And that’s not the entire impact. Arizona schools told the Legislature they need an additional $11.5 million just cover Prop. 206-related cost increases during the next six months.
Increased prices, decreased hours, fewer workers and increased competition for fewer jobs don’t help anyone. The money to pay this forced increase has to come from somewhere. And that place is from the pockets of the newly unemployed or underemployed, the never-hired and the goods- and services-buying public. Who is better off in this new, yet wholly avoidable, reality?
Arizona is great for one simple reason – the people. Be it by voting for particular candidates or enacting laws directly through a citizens’ initiative, Arizonans retain the right to choose the policies that meet their needs not those of unaccountable outside interests.
Our citizen initiative process, a power which was enshrined in the Arizona Constitution by our founders at statehood to enable residents of Arizona to enact laws directly, has been hijacked several times by out-of-state groups who are motivated by their own interests to make sweeping changes with consequences that we – not them – have to face each day.
To be clear, I am not anti-ballot measure or anti-direct democracy. Arizonans need to take action and have a say in accordance with public sentiment. But these changes should be made by Arizonans, for Arizonans. We should be the ultimate arbiters of our success.
We support a full review and reform of our state’s citizen initiative process, to place the balance of this substantial power back where it belongs – in the hands of Arizonans.