Flagstaff Ballot Question #405

Flagstaff Ballot Question #405 is a $10,000,000 Flagstaff municipal bond issue that would provide financial resources and voter support towards restoring forests within high threat areas in the Rio de Flag and Lake Mary Watersheds providing greater protection for the Flagstaff community from the impacts of fires and floods.
Significant threats are posed by the poor health of Flagstaff’s adjacent forests present in these two areas. Failure to restore forest health in the Rio de Flag Watershed, primarily within the Dry Lake Hills area immediately north of Flagstaff presents risk of crown fire and subsequent increased risk of flash flooding causing significant economic and infrastructure damage to Flagstaff and affecting people in the areas of Downtown, Sunnyside and NAU. Failure to restore forest health in the Lake Mary Watershed area south of Flagstaff threatens the availability of the City’s water supply in the event of a forest fire and subsequent flooding. Ash and sediment flowing into Upper Lake Mary, from which the city receives 50% of its drinking water, could render the lake unusable and result in increased water treatment costs.
Parallel with this proposed project is a regional undertaking known as Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI). This 20 year effort, to restore over 2 million acres of northern Arizona pine forests over 20 years, was funded by the Federal Government in 2012. A contract was awarded in May 2012 under 4FRI to thin 300,000 acres throughout the greater Flagstaff-Williams area within the next 10 years. Large areas adjacent to, and within, these two critical watersheds are also planned for treatment.
Specifically, the bond project will provide:
– Rio de Flag Watershed: permit an additional 6,780 acres of treatments to occur, (leveraging the 2,360 acres of currently planned, 4FRI-sponsored, treatments that will also occur)
– Lake Mary Watershed: permit an additional 4,000 acres of treatments to occur (leveraging the 32,000 acres of currently planned, 4FRI-sponsored treatments that will also occur)

So my opinion is kind torn on this one. While I fully support the ideas and intentions of this bond I am highly skeptical of it becoming a reality due to numerous reasons with planning and implementation. My skepticism comes from the city working on national forest lands and the price of such an undertaking by the city. National forest lands are subject to federal laws and must have NEPA planning done before any implementation begins. Furthermore the environmental impact statement (EIS) from the NEPA process could be contested in court and held up for years. If the EIS for 4FRI is not contested in court, work could start on 6,360 of the 10,780 acres the city wants to thin and it is already funded by the federal government with a contract that is already awarded. Why can’t 4FRI start in these areas to mitigate the concerns to these watersheds and the city. The remaining 4,420 acres that are on national forest land would also need an environmental impact statement and that could be held up in court and also require specialists from the forest to do the planning as the City of Flagstaff does not have the personnel or specialists to do the NEPA planning because NEPA is specific to the federal government. These areas are also on very steep slopes and would most likely require special logging operations such as yarding and helicopters to treat these areas at a substantial cost. I could go on and on about all the different issues there will be with planning on federal land but this is not a little project like the city has done before and frankly it is ill conceived. You can read my opinion on Proposition 120 and see why having the federal government managing its lands compared to the state is so difficult. Simply put on federal lands you must follow the burden of federal law. I think this is a waste of our tax dollars and instead of spending money we should make these areas a priority for 4FRI to start there work if the EIS does not get contested. The city could work on all the state and private lands where there is no governing federal laws, or better yet be contracted by the forest service to treat certain areas on federal land and bring money back to the city.

Information from the City of Flagstaff:
http://www.flagstaff.az.gov/index.aspx?nid=2717

Information about 4FRI:
http://www.4fri.org/index.html

Flagstaff Ballot Question #406

Here is a blog on Flagstaff Prop 406. It was covered very well so I would recommend reading this if you live in Flagstaff.

JeffOravits.com

$14 million in new debt, nearly $40 million in estimated cost and an increase in your property taxes, that’s the economic reality of proposition 406, the Core Services Maintenance Facility, if approved by Flagstaff voters on November 6.

Q: Amount to be borrowed?
A: $14,000,000.

Q: Interest on the loan?
A: Around $12,000,000.

Q: Total cost of project with interest?
A: About $40,000,000. An estimated $28,000,000 for land & improvements, and $12,000,000 in interest.

Q: Increase in property taxes?
A: Yes.

This is the cost to build a new maintenance yard, or as the City has renamed it after it failed overwhelmingly in 2010, the Core Services Maintenance Facility.

The proposed site is in West Flagstaff, across from the Home Depot.
Some info on the project:
• Nearly $1,000,000 per acre purchase price.
• Over $12,000,000 in improvements needed after purchase.
• Located in far West Flagstaff.
• Prime commercial…

View original post 223 more words

AZ Proposition 204

Proposition 204 would amend the Arizona Revised Statutes that would make permanent a 1-cent sales tax increase Arizona voters approved in 2010 as a temporary measure. The 2010 referendum raised the state sales tax rate to 6.6 percent from 5.6 percent. The higher levy would remain the same under Prop 204 which is set to expire in 2013. Beginning in fiscal year 2014, the permanent sales tax would earmark funds for education programs, human services and infrastructure projects related to public transportation and is projected to raise at least $1 billion annually.
Proponents of Prop 204 include Democratic legislators, public school groups, and a coalition of business contractors. Supporters argue that the measure would provide dedicated revenues for educational institutions, prevent the Legislature from cutting K-12 funding, ensure continued support for public safety personnel and projects, and create jobs by subsidizing public transportation infrastructure projects. Supporters also say Prop 204 will encourage governmental transparency and performance-linked accountability through its mandated five-year audit cycle.
Opponents to the initiative include Republican legislative leaders, tax reform advocates, and conservative pro-growth advocacy groups. Opponents call Prop 204 “ballot-box budgeting” and regard the permanent levy as both unwieldy and unwise since it can only be altered by referendum. Critics also say the measure handcuffs the Legislature in deciding how to budget and set spending priorities under constantly evolving economic conditions. Opponents question the constitutionality of Prop 204 because it potentially interferes with the state’s budget-making process.

Proposition 204 would annually distribute the first $1 billion of additional sales tax as follows or if one billion dollars is not collected, the money would be proportionally distributed as follows:
– Five hundred million dollars into the “quality education and performance fund”, to be used to assist school districts and charter schools to comply with assessment and accountability requirements, including improvement plans for failing schools, to provide teacher and principal evaluation systems based in part on student achievement, to improve pupil reading proficiency by the end of third grade and to implement a system of testing and awarding Grand Canyon diplomas to high school students who demonstrate readiness for college level math and English.
– Ten million dollars into the “education learning and accountability fund”, to be used by the state Department of Education to maintain a system for compiling longitudinal student level data and school finance data to meet state and federal reporting requirements.
– Ninety million dollars into the “education accountability and improvement fund” to provide performance funding to school districts and charter schools based on performance measures to be adopted by the State Board of Education relating to academic progress, parental satisfaction and student engagement, to provide teacher training and for technology necessary to implement statewide academic standards and assessments. Monies in this fund that remain unspent for three consecutive years would be transferred to the School Facilities Board, first to pay down existing school construction debt and then to fund construction or repair of school buildings.
– One hundred million dollars into the “state infrastructure fund”, to be used by the state Department of Transportation for costs associated with a variety of transportation infrastructure projects, the acceleration of highway improvement projects, for public-private partnerships relating to transportation projects, to fund environmentally sensitive designs and to fund transportation-related wildlife improvement projects and pay for bonding and other finance costs related to transportation projects.
– Twenty-five million dollars into the “children’s health insurance program fund”, to be used for costs associated with the current publicly funded health care program for children under nineteen years of age whose household income is at or below two hundred per cent of the federal poverty level.
– One hundred million dollars into the “family stability and self-sufficiency fund”, to be distributed by the Governor’s office to state agencies and private nonprofit entities as a match for federal funds for programs that provide for the basic needs of children, families and vulnerable adults whose household income is below two hundred per cent of the federal poverty level.
– Fifty million dollars into the “university scholarship, operations and infrastructure fund”, to be distributed according to rules adopted by the Board of Regents. Between fifty and sixty per cent of the fund monies must be used to provide university scholarships to resident students based on financial need or academic achievement, and the remaining fund monies would be allocated to the three state universities for operating and infrastructure expenses based on performance in meeting goals set by the Board of Regents.
– Up to one hundred twenty-five million dollars to the state general fund to fund the required inflationary adjustment for the kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade school system.

Proposition 204 would annually distribute the amount of additional sales tax over one billion dollars as follows:
– Thirty-three per cent to school districts and charter schools, based on the proportion of students participating in the federal free or reduced lunch program, to improve student achievement for those participating students and to provide voluntary preschool programs.
– Twenty-two and one-half per cent to community college districts, provisional community college districts and Indian tribal postsecondary institutions to support scholarship and career and technical training programs.
– Nine per cent to joint technical education districts to support career and vocational training.
– Two per cent to the state Department of Education to fund adult education programs.
– Twenty-two and one-half per cent to the “university scholarship, operations and infrastructure fund”.
– Eleven per cent to the “state infrastructure fund”.

In addition to the above distributions this proposition would also require the Legislature to increase certain components of the school finance formula each year and mandate the following:
– Require that an independent third-party audit of fund distributions be conducted every five years for all distributions
– Funding levels for K-12 schools and state universities cannot be reduced below the levels for fiscal year 2011-12 or 2012-13, whichever is greater.
– Limits on school district bonds and overrides cannot be below those in effect for 2012.
– Vehicle license tax and related highway user revenues cannot be diverted for any other purpose.
– Sales tax base cannot be adjusted in a way that causes the amount of sales tax collected to be less than the amount collected in the prior year, plus 6 percent, unless there is a corresponding change in the tax base that results in no reduction in the amount of sales tax collected.

Well as you can see this proposition has multitude of components to it. I support the goals of this initiative but I believe the method is reckless and does not accurate solve the problems that ail our education system. I don’t trust that simply throwing money at education with no guarantee of it being used in the classroom will improve education. I would equate it to a shotgun blast of earmarks that handcuffs the legislators ability to do their job. Furthermore I have my doubts if this is legal under the AZ constitution. The biggest problem I have with this initiative is we will have the second highest average sales tax in the United States at 9.12%. So where do all our tax dollars go right now? If you want to fix this then lets get involved and start hammering our representatives. How many of you have called or E-mailed your state reps on this issue. No worries somebody else will do it or they should already know. So instead of doing our job of holding our politicians feet to the fire we are willing to pass an ill conceived initiative with no guarantees and no getting out of it or changing it. No doubt this will take our money and give it to all these different agencies with no ability to EVER change it. Contact a politician today and let them know they are on notice if they do not improve our education system in AZ. But furthermore don’t say there is a problem with out first finding a solution and offering it to those you elected. See my page ‘Lets contact our politicians’ and start giving them a piece of your mind. Finally I would say for any piece of legislation that is this lengthy but does not go into the specifics of exactly what the desired end result of performance would be is just a waste of time and money.

http://www.azsos.gov/election/2012/info/PubPamphlet/english/Prop204.htm

AZ Proposition 121

Proposition 121 would amend the state Constitution to give Arizona what is commonly known as a top-two primary system. In this system the primary becomes more like a general election in which all candidates and all voters may participate regardless of party affiliation.
The top-two proposition is supported by the Open Government Committee, which is headed by former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson. The committee includes former state legislators and has the backing of prominent business leaders and union officials.
Opponents of the top-two proposal consist of a variety of groups who make several different arguments. Leading the list includes prominent Republicans, Democrats and third-party leaders, some of who are associated with the organizations “Save Our Vote” and “Safeguard Arizona’s Future.”

Proposition 121 would replace the partisan primary election with an open “top two” primary election. Voters would be given the opportunity to choose from all candidates for a particular office, regardless of the voter’s party affiliation or the political affiliation of the candidates. Candidates may designate a party preference on the ballot, but such identification of nominees no longer would be automatic according to their political party registration. The top-two vote getters in the primary would face each other in the general election with no write-ins allowed. The plan would bring an end to taxpayer-funded partisan primaries and effectively replace them with a candidate-winnowing system. It would affect all local, state and federal elections (with the exception of the presidential contest) where partisan labels are now used.
The state government is currently responsible for the cost of sample ballots sent to voters. By consolidating the different types of party sample ballots, Proposition 121 is projected to reduce printing costs and result in a state government savings of $(165,000) to $(278,000). Local governments currently pay the other primary election expenses. Proposition 121 is expected to increase these expenses due to greater production and mailing of ballots primarily to independent voters on the early voting list who do not currently receive a primary ballot. The open primary may also increase the number of ballot pages. The additional local government cost is projected to range from $440,000 to $2 million.

A vote of YES would amend the AZ constitution and would replace the current primary election with an open “top two” primary election.
A vote of NO would keep the current primary election process.

Well this was difficult not to be biased in the above paragraphs but this proposition over all other propositions on your ballot is the most appalling assault on our freedom. The two candidates with the deepest pockets will move on to the general election. They say they want to make sure we get moderate candidates but that is a lie. I like how they know whats best for us. What this will do is always give you a choice. Now here is your choice on your general election ballot: Republican/Democrat, Democrat/Democrat, Republican/Republican. No third party will ever be on the general election ballot and your choices will be limited to the status quo. There are many issues with the current system, but this is not the right fix unless you are deliberately wanting to take our choices away. Defend our liberty and do not support this most sinister proposition.

http://www.azsos.gov/election/2012/info/PubPamphlet/english/Prop121.htm

For a very detailed video on how Top Two has been bad nationally:

Freedom Watch with Judge Andrew Napalitano

For information on how bad this was for California check out these 2 links:

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-smith-california-top2-welections-20121024,0,7490391.story

http://flagliberty.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/top-two-proves-to-be-a-disaster-in-california/

AZ Proposition 120

Proposition 120 would amend the Arizona Constitution to grant the state exclusive control over air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within the state’s boundaries. In 1910, the federal government granted nearly 11 million acres to the Territory of Arizona as part of the Arizona-New Mexico Enabling Act, allowing it to become a state. In accordance with this legislation, Arizona constitutionally disclaimed all rights to unallocated public lands inside its borders. Prop 120 would repeal this provision. This proposition or also known as House Concurrent Resolution 2004, passed the Arizona Legislature along partisan lines with Democrats voting in opposition. The measure was sponsored by Rep. Chester Crandell, R-Heber.

Proposition 120 would amend the Arizona Constitution to declare Arizona’s sovereign and exclusive authority and jurisdiction over the air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within the state’s boundaries. Specifically excluded from this declaration are Indian reservations, lands of the United States and federal “forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings” obtained for federal government purposes, as required by Article I, section 8, clause 17 of the United States Constitution. Prop 120 also would amend the Arizona Constitution to repeal Arizona’s disclaimer of all right and title to public lands within the state (except Indian reservations) and to repeal Arizona’s consent to provisions of the Enabling Act. Furthermore Prop 120 would declare that each state possesses full attributes of sovereignty on an equal footing with all other states, as provided by the United States Constitution, and that state sovereignty is fundamental to the security of individual rights, free government and the inherent political power of the people.

A vote of YES would amend the Arizona Constitution to grant the state exclusive control over air, water, public lands and other natural resources within the state’s boundaries.
A vote of NO would keep existing authority of the federal government over these provisions.

There has been a lot of controversy over this one so this is my thoughts on it. So how many have you read the U.S. Constitution? If any one knows where in the U.S. Constitution the federal government is given the authority and jurisdiction over the air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within the state’s boundaries please show me because I’ve read the Constitution and maybe I missed it. I did see the Tenth amendment in the Bill of Rights and it states: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the state respectively, or to the people. Biggest thing is this will remove certain provisions in the Arizona Enabling Act and give us greater state sovereignty. I’ve heard a lot of fear mongering on this amendment like succeeding from the Union and all kinds of ridiculous stuff. I believe at a time when the federal government is taking a meat clever to the Bill of Rights that the states have got to stand up. No doubt this will go to court but we need to hold the U.S Constitution as the Supreme law of the land. If Arizona is ready to take on management of these lands then we should have that right. There are many questions with this and all I would say is look to the other states in the union that do not have the amount of federal land we do. The federal land is mismanaged for a number of reasons, but many of those issues would be void if it was state land. Many of you know who I work for and your mouths probably dropped but I can always find a new job. My personal gain or security will never compromise my beliefs and morals. Liberty in this state, country and for my fellow citizens is more important to me than job security.

http://www.azsos.gov/election/2012/info/PubPamphlet/english/Prop120.htm

AZ Proposition 119

Proposition 119 would amend the Arizona Constitution to allow the state to exchange state trust land for other public land in Arizona if it is related to protecting military facilities or developing lands for sale or public use. In 1990 the Arizona Supreme Court determined that without amending the Arizona Constitution the state cannot conduct land exchanges. Subsequently, the State Land Department ceased the land exchange program. Prop 119, titled Senate Concurrent Resolution 1001, met little organized opposition in the Arizona Legislature. It passed unanimously in the House. In the final Senate vote before transmission to the Secretary of State, 11 Republicans opposed the measure; there was no Democratic opposition.

Prop 119 would amend the Arizona Constitution to allow land exchanges by the State Trust Land if the following requirements are met:
– The exchange must be in the best interest of the state land trust.
– The purpose of the exchange must be to either assist in preserving and protecting military facilities in this state from encroaching development or to improve the management of state lands for the purpose of sale or lease, or conversion of state land to public use.
– There must be two independent appraisals showing the true value of the land the state receives in the exchange is equal to or greater than the true value of the trust land the state conveys. Also, two independent analyses must detail the income to the state land trust before and after the exchange; the financial impact of the exchange on each county, city, town and school district in which the lands are located; and the environmental impact of the exchange on the local community, land uses and plans.
– Detailed public notice of a proposed exchange must be given and public hearings held to allow the public an opportunity to comment.
– A proposed exchange is not effective unless it is approved by the voters in a November general election statewide.

A vote of YES would amend the Arizona Constitution to authorize state trust land exchanges if it is related to protecting military installations or managing lands for sale or public use. Individual exchanges proposed by the state must be approved by voters in a general election before the exchanges can be finalized.
A vote of NO would not amend the AZ Constitution to incorporate authority for land exchanges.

Well I like this one. Full disclosure to the public and the only way a state trust land exchange would happen is with voter approval. There were some opponents to this and it stems from concern about state sovereignty and the perceived encroachment by the federal government over state lands. At least six land exchange measures have been referred to and rejected by Arizona voters over the past decade. I don’t think that argument is founded or I would most definitely be opposed to this plus its in our hands.

http://www.azsos.gvov/election/2012/info/PubPamphlet/english/Prop119.htm

AZ Proposition 118

Proposition 118 would amend the Arizona Constitution to allow the state to change the formula for distributing money from the state land trust “permanent fund” to public institutions, primarily schools. The new formula would be employed from fiscal years 2013 through 2021. In 1998 voters passed Proposition 102, which amended the Arizona Constitution to allow revenues to be invested in equities (or stocks). It also established the current distribution formula. Fund investments are managed by the State Treasurer. This ballot measure passed the Legislature in a largely bipartisan fashion, some Republicans opposed it and Democrats were split in their support.

History has shown since 2004 the current formula can result in years with little or no payout due to economic fluctuations or downturns. Prop 118 would guarantee annual payouts but likely at smaller average distributions over time. State trust land refers to approximately 10.9 million acres of land granted to Arizona in 1910 by Congress prior to statehood. Although there are 13 beneficiaries of the permanent fund, K-12 schools are the largest in receiving about 90 percent of the overall payout. The fund is currently valued at $3.5 billion. The permanent fund receives revenue from natural product leasing or sales, royalties from mineral materials, and land sales. Monies are distributed annually. To stabilize annual payouts to state beneficiaries, Prop 118 would re-write the formula so that distribution is based on a simple 2.5 percent of the fund’s average of market value over the last five years. The formula would revert to the existing calculus after 2021.
The current distribution is determined by the average total rate of return on the previous five fiscal years. This figure is then adjusted for inflation by subtracting the average of the annual percentage change in the GDP price deflator (a measure of price levels for goods and services) for the previous five fiscal years. That inflation-adjusted rate of return is then multiplied by the average market value over the previous five years. The formula, first implemented in 2004, was designed to protect the permanent fund from the vagaries of the equities market where nearly 60 percent of the fund is now invested.
Although Prop 118 would guarantee annual payouts, analysts agree that the proposed distribution would most likely result in smaller deposits to the permanent fund.

A vote of YES would amend the Arizona Constitution to change the distribution formula from the state’s trust land permanent fund to 2.5 percent of the fund’s average market value over the last five years.
A vote of NO would keep the existing distribution formula.

So if anyone is an investment broker it probably make perfect sense to you, I’ve got a headache now. So I have a hard time leaning one way or another on this one. Steady income or ups and downs with more income seems to be the choice. I don’t like the fact of having the schools on a yo yo with their funds so I think I would be for it even know it could be less money annually any given year. I think it would be better than getting $0 then $500,000. The public schools seem to support it as it will bring predictability to their budgeting. Thats my take and I would love to hear another opinion.

http://www.azsos.gov/election/2012/info/PubPamphlet/english/Prop118.htm