Be it enacted by the People of the State of Arizona:
The Constitution of Arizona is proposed to be amended by adding Section 1.1 to Article IV, Part 1 as follows, if approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon and on proclamation of the Governor:
Section 1. Article IV, Part 1, Constitution of Arizona, is amended by adding Section 1.1, as follows:
§1.1. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY THROUGH TRUE MAJORITY RULE
SECTION 1.1. TO PRESERVE AND PROTECT THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY THROUGH TRUE MAJORITY RULE, AN INITIATIVE MEASURE THAT ESTABLISHES, IMPOSES OR RAISES A TAX, FEE, OR OTHER REVENUE, OR MANDATES A SPENDING OBLIGATION, WHETHER ON A PRIVATE PERSON, LABOR ORGANIZATION, OTHER PRIVATE LEGAL ENTITY OR THIS STATE, SHALL NOT BECOME LAW UNLESS THE MEASURE IS APPROVED BY A MAJORITY OF QUALIFIED ELECTORS THEN REGISTERED TO VOTE IN THIS STATE.
Section 2. Short Title: This Constitutional Amendment shall be known as the "Majority Rule--Let the People Decide Act."
Reading that as written, it would appear that it only restricts initiatives which either raise taxes or force private persons, labor organizations, or other private legal entities to spend. Its proponents, however, claim that the effect is to restrict initiatives which mandate government spending obligations. I'll take their word for it and consequently recommend a "No" vote.
If you vote "Yes", you won't be in bad company: among individuals and organizations supporting this measure are the Arizona Federation of Taxpayers, Clint Bolick, and Tom Jenney. Similarly, many of those opposed are opposed for stupid reasons. Representative of these is the Arizona Republic and the organized opposition, No on 105, both of which frets about assigning a vote to non-voters. Nonsense!--they and others taking this view have been dazzled by the number 0.5.
Proposition 105, albeit sloppily, imposes (according to its supporters) a supermajority requirement to pass any ballot initiative that either mandates spending or imposes a tax. The new supermajority criterion, if it passes, would be fifty percent of registered voters, plus one. This is somewhat arbitrary: an initiative mandating forty percent of registered voters plus one vote "yes" to pass future initiatives is almost equivalent, yet cannot be shoehorned into a "you're letting nonvoters vote!" framework.
Under ordinary circumstances, majoritarian voting on individual questions is (perhaps paradoxically) the best way to prevent "tyranny of the majority". In legislatures, however, matters are different, and (among others) James Buchanan has made a convincing case for requiring a supermajority to approve tax increases. The same Public Choice arguments do not transfer neatly to ballot questions, but I would support requiring a supermajority to raise taxes to make it more difficult to pass initiatives which to many people appear only to tax others and not themselves.
The supermajority imposed by Proposition 105, however, would be far too strict. Consider that in an election with 51% turnout, an affected measure would need to pass almost unanimously. When there is 50% turnout or less, no affected measure could possibly pass. It would be better to simply mandate traditional two-thirds supermajority.
Moreover, even from a small-government, market-liberal perspective, many if not most initiatives carry with them some spending obligation, even if only for administration or enforcement. Supporters of this initiative have attempted to convince me that such spending obligations aren't really spending obligations, but only new programs are spending obligations. That's an insult to my intelligence, to expect me to believe that the courts would find that some spending is not spending. It's bad enough that the spending restriction itself isn't clearly worded; if supporters wanted to impose a supermajority requirement on only some spending measures but not others, they should have had someone with an IQ greater than 80 write the text of their initiative.
Consider that if we wanted to put aquifier-by-aquifier cap-and-trade, or school vouchers, or, were it not already law, concealed carry into place, all of these would, were Prop 105 enacted, have to pass with steep supermajorities. Preserve the initiative process as a means to reform: vote No on proposition 105. If, like me, you'd entertain requiring a supermajority to pass tax increases, let 105's supporters come back in two years with something more intelligent and better written.