It’s not every day that one political party would seek to find a way to get more of its opponents to vote. But this is 2022, and apparently some Republican lawmakers just can’t help themselves.
Earlier this week, the Senate Transportation and Technology Committee unanimously approved SB1356. This bill is a tax increase that follows the expiring Proposition 400, a transportation tax of half a cent that was approved by voters in 2004. The plan itself is a complete boondoggle. If passed and signed into law, most of the money would go to transit and pet projects. (You can read more about that here.)
But one part of this bill is a total disaster. And anyone who considers themselves to be conservative should be outright concerned that Republican lawmakers not only approved the bill, but two of them actually sponsored it.
Buried inside SB1356 is language that attempts to rig the vote on this particular initiative. And that’s not the worst part. This language would also provide a big boost to Democrats in November.
First of all, the legislation prescribes (on pages 24-25) the exact ballot subject title and description, along with the language to describe the effects of both a “yes” vote and a “no” vote that will appear on the ballot. Normally, this would be drafted by attorneys or election officials not affiliated with the campaign. And while that certainly isn’t a perfect system, at least they are independent from the campaign and are required by law to draft impartial language. (This allows someone who believes that the language isn’t impartial to sue.)
But with SB1356, the supporters of the tax are the ones who drafted the language. And they did so using poll-tested and focus group language paid for with your tax dollars. In fact, they even included in the bill (on page 7) the ability to engage in an unlimited amount of polling—all at the expense of taxpayers like you. And because this language is included in the bill, there is no recourse for suing to ensure that it’s impartial.
If you think that is bad, we’re not done yet.
The legislation also provides unlimited funding through the roadway fund to Maricopa County to conduct the election for the tax. This includes funding for lawyers, consultants, employees, telecommunications costs, and canvassing for the election. So, basically, this bill is writing a blank check to Maricopa County to conduct a massive, taxpayer funded “Get Out the Vote” campaign to drive supporters of the tax to the polls.
And who do you think the supporters of such a tax will be?
That’s right. The Republican legislature is thinking about including a measure on the November 2022 ballot that is specifically designed to garner Democrat support. And less than a year after the state legislature banned Zuck bucks from influencing Arizona’s elections, some are apparently ok with a rigged election and making taxpayers foot the bill for a campaign that will increase Democrat turnout.
Clearly, this isn’t a plan to build roads and freeways—or improve how we move people from point A to point B. And this sort of bill is certainly not why you voted for a Republican legislature. Now, they need to do the right thing and vote NO on this so-called “transportation” bill.
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