Arizona Sales Tax Renewal Amendment, Proposition 204 (2012)

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Proposition 204
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Referred by:Quality Education and Jobs Committee
Status:Defeated Defeatedd

The Arizona Sales Tax Renewal Amendment, also known as Proposition 204 or the Quality Education and Jobs Act, was on the November 6, 2012 ballot in the state of Arizona as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated.

The proposal would have renewed a 2010 voter-approved one-cent sales tax to provide funding for education for students in the state who met certain requirements, scholarships for college students and reinvestment in vocational education and new jobs, according to reports.

The initiative was officially called the Quality Education and Jobs Initiative by supporters. The 2010 sales tax measure found on a May 18, 2010 special election ballot implemented an increase to the state sales tax by one percentage point, ending in 2013.

The constitutional amendment, which won with 64.3% of the vote, was supported by Gov. Jan Brewer, who wanted the Arizona State Legislature to vote to refer the proposal to the ballot as a means to alleviate the state's budget strain.

Election results

See also: 2012 ballot measure election results

The following are official election results:

Arizona Proposition 204
Defeatedd No1,353,21263.79%
Yes 768,422 36.21%

Results via the Arizona Secretary of State.

Text of the measure

Short title

The short title of the measure read as follows:[1]

The Quality Education and Jobs Act will strengthen Arizona's economy by equipping children to succeed in the classroom, ensuring an educated workforce and creating jobs. This act, which renews the one-cent sales tax, will provide dedicated funding linked to performance and accountability for students of all ages and prevent legislators from cutting K-12 funding. Scholarships will ensure that universities and community colleges remain affordable. Investment in vocational educational education will allow students to graduate ready to work. This act protects public safety by ensuring continued funding for DPS officers and creates jobs by funding road, rail, transit and other transportation projects.[2]


According to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the measure would have used the projected $1 billion raised by revenue for the following:[3]

  • $500 million: Quality Education and Performance Fund.
  • $10 million: Education Learning and Accountability Fund.
  • $90 million: Education Accountability and Improvement Fund.
  • $100 million: State Infrastructure Fund.
  • $25 million: Children’s Health Insurance Program Fund.
  • $100 million: Family Stability and Self-Sufficiency Fund.
  • $50 million: University, Scholarship, Operations and Infrastructure Fund.
  • $125 million: Inflationary adjustment for K-12 funding formula.




  • Ann-Eve Pedersen, president of the Arizona Education Parent Network and chair of the Quality Education and Jobs Committee, argued that the tax helps education in the state. Pedersen stated, “Education is an economic driver and we’re going to ensure that by passing this initiative, we’re going to have good jobs for Arizonans and that we’re creating a healthy business climate so we can attract new employers and keep the ones we have."[8]
  • Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, an emerging leader of the state’s Democrats according to 2012 reports, stated “Not only will this help prepare our kids for the future, it sends a message that we are serious about education and will help immediately with recruiting the right kinds of employers and high wage jobs to our state,”[6]
  • Dan Sullivan, communications director of the Arizona Students' Association stated, “When passed, [the proposition] will provide up to $300 million a year for universities, half of which, about $150 million, will go to students in the form of financial aid."[9]
  • State Representative Steve Farley stated, "We have to make up for things that this majority has decided to take away from our schools."[3]

The following are arguments that were submitted to the Arizona Secretary of State for the state voter guide. More arguments can be read here:

  • "Rarely do Arizonans have the opportunity -- with a single vote -- to create a better future for our state's 1 million schoolchildren, improve the state's economy and redirect Arizona down a more positive path. The Quality Education and Jobs citizens' initiative allows Arizonans to exercise our Constitutional right to determine exactly how we want our own tax dollars spent. Special-interest lobbyists and anti-education politicians fear this type of direct democracy. They worked hard to try to keep this initiative off the ballot. They would rather dole out favors with your tax dollars than actually fund core state needs, such as education. The Quality Education and Jobs initiative prevents legislators from using the one-cent sales tax renewal as they wish. Legislators' hands will be tied -- by you, the Arizona taxpayers. Every dollar must be spent as you designate, with 80 percent of the funding benefiting education across the spectrum: K-12, vocational education, community colleges, universities and GED programs. To protect your investment, the Legislature will be prohibited from cutting K-I2 funding. Arizona must invest in education, not only to protect schoolchildren but to protect the state's economy. When companies decide to relocate or remain in Arizona, they base that decision on whether Arizona has a highly skilled, well-educated workforce. By failing to invest in education, anti-education politicians have put a "Closed For Business" sign in front of our state, robbing us all of the opportunity for prosperity. In Arizona's 100th year, we have the opportunity to exercise the rights given to us by our state's founders. Let's exercise that constitutional right of direct democracy to benefit Arizona's children, Arizona's economy and Arizona's future. VOTE YES FOR PROP. 204.
Submitted by Ann-Eve Pedersen, Chair, Quality Education and Jobs Committee.
  • "The backbone of Arizona's economic health is a strong education system. As the CEO s of some of Arizona's largest employers, we know that the quality of education affects our ability to keep and recruit excellent employees, as well as recruit new companies with good-paying jobs. We depend on our state's educators to graduate students with the skills necessary to succeed in our rapidly changing job market so that Arizona remains competitive nationally and internationally. The Quality Education and Jobs initiative provides the investment in education that Arizona needs to thrive economically. The initiative directs dollars to help teachers and students succeed as Arizona schools implement a series of reforms and accountability measures over the next two years. Arizona is one of 45 states that have adopted a new, more rigorous curriculum called the Common Core and a new test tied to the new standards that will replace AIMS . In addition, teachers and principals will have one-third to one-half of their evaluations tied directly to how well their students perform. Schools and districts will receive new A - F rankings that require them to move up their lowest performers or risk receiving a bad grade. And third-grade students must be reading at grade level or be held back a grade. We are raising the bar for our educators and students and we must invest in education at this critical time to ensure that our teachers in the classroom have the resources they need to help our state's 1 million schoolchildren succeed. The initiative also guarantees state investment in Arizona's transportation infrastructure, which also is critical to Arizona's economic health. Arizona must have safe and efficient highways, roads and transit for Arizona to keep the job-creating businesses it has and recruit new ones to the state.
Submitted by Greater Phoenix Leadership Board of Directors; J. Doug Pruitt, Chairman of the Board, Greater Phoenix Leadership; Thomas R. Franz, President & CEO, Greater Phoenix Leadership.
  • "The Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits supports the Quality & Education Jobs Initiative as a critical step to ensure the continuation of services that our communities rely upon. The funding for education, health and human services programs embedded in this Initiative are important sources of support for many nonprofit organizations in our communities. Without these funding sources, many nonprofits would be unable to sustain their work, leaving residents without critical services. The individuals, foundations and businesses which also support these programs cannot possibly raise their levels of contributions adequately to cover these lost public resources. Therefore, passage of the Quality & Education Jobs Initiative would renew the voters' commitment to these programs and ensure that our communities are well served."
Submitted by Rhonda Bannard, Chair, Board of Trustees, Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits; Pam Gaber, Treasurer, Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits.




  • Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who was the main proponent of the 2010 sales tax increase that this initiative seeks to renew, was against the proposal. Brewer stated that potential increase would not have given much room for the Arizona Legislature to decide how to balance the budget and set spending priorities.[11]
  • On June 7, 2012, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce’s public policy committee voted to recommend that the full chamber board oppose the measure.[12]
  • Kevin McCarthy, president of the Arizona Tax Research Association, stated that the measure did not plan enough for inflation and had provisions that could have been difficult to implement. McCarthy stated, "When you’re running an initiative a very small group of people get to draft legislation. Inevitably you are going to have not only policy problems but problems with how it is going to be written.”[3]
  • State Representative John Kavanagh stated, "So if we have another economic downturn, next year or in five years, we will have amply funded education and will be stopping other programs."[3]
  • Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, stated her group's concern was rooted in the provision of the measure that stated that the initiative would set aside 10 percent of the first $1 billion raised for the a new "family stability and self-sufficiency fund," stating that this could have meant that the money could have been used for abortion services.[13]

The following are arguments that were submitted to the Arizona Secretary of State for the state voter guide. More arguments can be read here:

  • "Farm Bureau Supports a " NO " Vote on Quality Jobs and Education Act. Arizona does not need more budgeting by the ballot box, nor do we need to further hamstring our legislature. We will hold them accountable at the ballot box. Our governor and legislature are constitutionally required to balance the budget. Every permanent earmark makes that job harder. AZFB supported the temporary [emphasis on "temporary"] sales tax as an emergency measure, but the time for the sales tax increase has passed and it is time for the legislature to continue to do the things necessary to get our state's fiscal house in order. The twelve earmarks are more like the twelve days of Christmas...year after year after year."
Submitted by Kevin G. Rogers, President, Arizona Farm Bureau Federation; James W. Klinker, Chief Administrative Officer, Arizona Farm Bureau Federation.
  • "The legislature will not adequately fund public education. Unfortunately they have the votes to cut taxes on those most able to pay and to increase vouchers and tax credits for private schools if we impose an education sales tax. The legislature made revenue cuts as soon as the last temporary education tax passed. This time they promised to cut income taxes by an amount equal to the revenue from the sales tax if it passes. And they will give other tax breaks to the wealthy and divert more money to private schools. BEWARE! Tax cuts would be forever because it requires a super majority to impose taxes. Passing this sales tax would shift taxes from those most able to pay to a regressive sales tax that hurts low-income people. Higher sales taxes cut retail sales that are vital for our economic recovery. If we refuse to bail out the legislature with this sales tax, they will have to face the public outrage (and not be elected) if they make destructive cuts in education funding. The revenue would not cover all critical education needs. Unfortunately the proposition dictates which items to fund. This would prevent using the money for more critical needs that are not on the list. Voters are not qualified to decide how to allocate all this money. Many supporters admit that they do not understand the important details of this proposition. So they depend on what the promoters say. Before you vote, meet with others who want quality education and are willing to pay for it with appropriate taxes. Study the issues. Listen to arguments for and against this tax. Millions of these education dollars would be diverted to fund Arizona roads. Outrageous!
Submitted by Ruth Stokes, resident of Tucson, Arizona.

Campaign contributions


The following are contributions made in support of the measure:[14]

Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $2,189,242.08
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $1,537,433.61
Donor Amount
Quality Education and Jobs Supporting Prop 204 $2,189,242.08


The following are contributions made in opposition of the measure:[15]

Donor Amount
No New Taxes, No on Prop 204 $1,537,433.61

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Arizona ballot measures, 2012


  • The Arizona Daily Star stated, "Given that the chance of a wholesale change in the Legislature's members or political philosophy is unlikely, Prop. 204 is the best option available. Prop. 204 gives Arizonans the opportunity to do what lawmakers have not - support our economy in the short and long term by putting our money into public education, transportation and programs that support kids and families."[16]


2012 measure lawsuits
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Ballot text
Campaign contributions
Motivation of sponsors
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Single-subject rule
Signature challenges
Initiative process
See also: List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2012

Ann-Eve Pederson v. Secretary of State Ken Bennett

On June 28, 2012, Quality Education and Jobs Committee filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court, claiming that their signatures were valid and that their proposal should have been placed on the ballot. The initiative was previously disqualified by Secretary of State Ken Bennett (R) because ballot language on circulating petitions was different from language that the secretary's office had on file. According to supporters of the initiative, differences between the circulated text and the official text was a "hyper-technicality." Supporters argued that the circulated text was "substantially" the same.[17]

Judge Robert Oberbillig scheduled July 18, 2012 as the date for the hearing.[18]

On that same day, Oberbillig ruled that Secretary Bennett should not have refused to process the petitions. The judge ruled that the measure be placed on the November ballot. According to Oberbillig, proponents of the initiative gave Bennett the correct version of the petition and that there was no evidence that those who signed the petition were misled.[19]

Secretary of State Ken Bennett filed an appeal of the ruling, insisting that proponents of the initiative did not comply with state law. Bennett hired an expert in elections law to spearhead the appeal. Bennett stated, "To leave the lower court ruling in place I think risks huge voter confusion, huge confusion with our offices and other filing offices as far as how we're supposed to process these initiatives."[20]

However, that appeal failed as the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the measure be placed on the ballot. According to the high court, the text on the petition complied with state election law.[21]

Path to the ballot

According to reports, petition drive organizers were required to collected 172,809 valid signatures from registered voters by the July 5, 2012 petition drive deadline in order to make the ballot.

According to reports on June 6, 2012, supporters of the initiative stated that they had collected enough signatures to make the ballot. Reports stated that petition drive organizers had collected more than 175,000 signatures from state voters.

Although enough signatures were allegedly collected, supporters said at the time that they would keep collecting them leading up to the deadline in order to ensure that they had room for error.[22]

Ballot language error

On June 19, 2012, it was reported that a mistake regarding the ballot language of the measure hindered initiative efforts, potentially keeping the measure off of the November ballot. Reports said that supporters pointed to a "clerical error" in which ballot language on circulating petitions was found to be different than official ballot language on record with the Arizona Secretary of State's office.

According to Secretary of State Ken Bennett after this finding, his office would not accept any petitions that have a different version of ballot language than what his office had on file. Bennett said, "We would reject anything that was collected, attached to something other than what they filed with us. Potentially it’s a huge issue, depending on whether they’ve been collecting the signatures for the version they have on their website or the version that was filed with our office. But we can only accept signatures collected, attached to the version that they’ve filed with us.”[23]

Signature submission

On June 25, 2012, supporters of the initiative filed more than 290,000 signatures from registered voters with the Arizona Secretary of State's office. Supporters filed the signatures despite the controversy surrounding the ballot language. Reports said that Secretary Ken Bennett's office accepted the petitions for processing and would decide whether or not the signatures, and the ballot language on the petitions, were valid.[24]


On June 26, 2012, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett stated, after signatures were submitted to his office days before, that the proposal did not have sufficient signatures to make the ballot. Signatures were disqualified because of the difference in the ballot language on the circulation petitions and the ballot language that the secretary's office had on file.[25]

However, after litigation, the measure was placed back on the ballot.

See also

External links

Additional reading


  1. Arizona Secretary of State, "Ballot Measures," September 17, 2012
  2. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 AzCapitolTimes, "School-tax proposition raises question of funding via voters or elected representatives," September 19, 2012
  4. Prop 204 supporters claim dire consequences for schools if measure fails, "Cronkite News," October 18, 2012
  5. KJZZ, "Proposition 204: Should the state permanently raise its sales tax?," September 19, 2012
  6. 6.0 6.1 Phoenix Business Journal, "Prop. 204 splits Phoenix business community, brings Doug Ducey to forefront," October 3, 2012
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Phoenix Business Journal, "CEO groups back Prop. 204, but sales tax increase splits private sector," October 1,2012
  8. Arizona Daily Wildcat, "Initiative seeks to extend tax increase," March 21, 2012
  9. Arizona Daily Wildcat, "ASA spreads awareness about Prop. 204, voting," September 10, 2012
  10. Ahwatukee Foothills News, "Arizona treasurer launches campaign to fight education sales tax initiative," August 15, 2012
  11. Arizona Capitol Times, "Brewer opposes proposed Arizona sales tax increase," July 10, 2012
  12. Arizona Capitol Times, "Vote of no confidence on two ballot measures," June 8, 2012
  13. Think Progress, "Anti-Abortion Group Opposes Tax Increases In Arizona Because The Funds Might Go To Planned Parenthood," October 11, 2012
  14. Arizona Secretary of State, "Campaign Finance," accessed November 27, 2012
  15. Arizona Secretary of State, "Campaign Finance," accessed November 27, 2012
  16. Arizona Daily Star, "Endorsement: Prop. 204," October 13, 2012
  17. Prescott News, "Quality Education and Jobs Files Lawsuit Against Secretary of State Bennett," June 28, 2012
  18. CBS News, "Hearing set on proposal for Arizona sales tax hike," July 3, 2012
  19. Arizona Daily News, "Judge: 1-cent tax initiative to stay on Arizona ballot," July 18, 2012
  20. Arizona Daily Sun, "Bennett files appeal to keep sales tax off ballot," July 24, 2012
  21., "The initiative proposes a penny-on-the-dollar increase to take effect in 2013 upon the expiration of a same-size temporary increase," accessed August 22, 2012
  22. Arizona Republic, "Backers: 2 Arizona ballot initiatives have enough signatures," June 6, 2012
  23. Arizona Capitol Times, "Ballot language troubles could sink sales-tax initiative," June 19, 2012
  24. Tucson Citizen, "Filing of petitions heightens Arizona sales-tax fight," June 25, 2012
  25. Business Journal, "1-cent sales tax extension won't make Arizona ballot," June 26, 2012