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© Photo: Getty Images/Ingram Publishing Where the money goes: When Gov. Doug Ducey took office, he said he wanted schools to spend less on “overhead” like administration and more in the classroom. The Legislature backed away from making that a requirement. The Auditor General found that district schools spent 53.8 percent of their money on instruction, the same proportion as last year and down from 58.6 percent in 2004.

This November, out-of-state unions and special interests are trying to convince Arizonans to support the largest tax increase in the state’s history: Proposition 208.

Ironically referred to as the Invest in Education initiative, Proposition 208 would severely damage Arizona’s already fragile economy, wiping out tens of thousands of jobs and costing the state billions of dollars in lost revenue — all while turning a blind eye to misspending and waste within the education bureaucracy.

Making matters even worse, if Proposition 208 passes, it will be nearly impossible to fix it.

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ANOTHER VIEW: Proposition 208 is a lifeline, state superintendent says

This is because of Arizona’s Voter Protection Act. Enacted more than two decades ago, the Voter Protection Act has served mainly as a tool to protect special interests, but it’s yielded little benefit to voters. In fact, it explicitly prohibits the Legislature from rolling back any ballot measure, no matter what the cost incurred or damage is to the state.

We’d be stuck with a bad law if it passes

This means that if Proposition 208 passes, there would be no mechanism for policymakers to either cut the taxes or backfill the lost revenue imposed by the measure. The only way Proposition 208 could ever be fixed is through another ballot initiative, which would cost millions of dollars and be vigorously opposed by the unions.

Unfortunately, the practical effect of the Voter Protection Act is to create a system that is less responsive to the needs of Arizonans at a given time. Should voters pass a measure that results in unintended or destructive consequences, we’re stuck with it in perpetuity irrespective of changing voter sentiments.

Even mistakes — down to the most minuscule ones — cannot be fixed. A technical error? A typo? There is little recourse for correcting these inaccuracies, making Proposition 208 a textbook example of exactly why the Voter Protection Act is so problematic.

State tax rate would jump to the top 10

Consider: We already know that Proposition 208 will result in consequences that Arizonans will likely seek to reverse if our state is to remain economically competitive with the rest of the country. After all, the measure would impose a tax increase of nearly $1 billion — making Arizona one of the top 10 highest taxing states in the nation, on par with California and much worse than all of our other neighboring states.

Yet Proposition 208 provides no benchmarks for student achievement or school quality, or even ensures new dollars end up where they are needed most: in the classroom.

A new report from the Goldwater Institute shows that Proposition 208 would result in at least 124,000 lost jobs and a minimum of $2.4 billion in lost state and local tax revenues over a decade, which will undoubtedly lead to cuts to other services, like child protective services, public safety and higher education.

And Arizona’s small business owners — the backbone of our economy — will bear the brunt of the Proposition 208 tax increase. These entrepreneurs, who generally operate on small profit margins, would not be able to afford the massive tax increase and largely be forced out of business.

Proposition ensures a bleak future

At a time when Arizona needs to set its sights on economic recovery, Proposition 208 would make that journey nearly impossible.

Ultimately, Proposition 208 would ensure an economically bleak future for Arizona — with no guarantees that students and families will benefit in any way. But the measure is not just bad policy: Because of the Voter Protection Act, if it passes, its effects will be permanent — the job losses, the lost tax revenues, the disproportionate impact on small businesses.

This November, it’s important for voters to consider that a yes vote on Proposition 208 means that the damage caused is irreversible — there will be no turning back.

Victor Riches is president and CEO of the Goldwater Institute. Share your thoughts at ceo@goldwaterinstitute.org.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: The damage Proposition 208 will do to Arizona’s economy is real — and permanent

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