Foes of a ballot measure that aims to permanently prohibit sales taxes on services are banding together for a last-ditch effort against it, but it may be too little and too late to defeat the multi-million-dollar campaign for Proposition 126 that gone unopposed for months.
The No on Proposition 126 Committee announced on Tuesday that it had formed with bipartisan support. State Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is the committee’s chairman while Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, is its treasurer. The committee launched with the backing of liberal groups such as the Arizona Education Association, Children’s Action Alliance and Save Our Schools Arizona, as well as conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity’s Arizona chapter, the Arizona Free Enterprise Club and the LIBRE Initiative.
If approved by voters, Prop. 126 will amend the Arizona Constitution to prohibit state, county or municipal governments in the state from imposing new taxes on services. Some critics worry that it will block potential reforms that would broaden Arizona’s sales tax base, possibly while lowering the overall tax rate, in order to provide more funding for K-12 education.
Citizens for Fair Tax Policy, the pro-Prop. 126 campaign, has already spent millions, largely on television ads. The committee reported spending about $4.5 million through the end of the last reporting period on August 20. Through late August, the committee had raised about $6.1 million, with most of the funding coming from the Arizona Association of Realtors and the remainder coming from the National Association of Realtors.
Nonetheless, No on Proposition 126 spokesman Geoff Esposito said he doesn’t think the campaign is starting too late to defeat the measure.
“I think what you’re seeing is momentum in opposition to this proposition. And I think when people realize how broad and how diverse and how, frankly, unique in this day and age that this coalition is, they’re going to see that this proposition is bad for Arizona,” Esposito said.
But Esposito couldn’t say how much money the campaign will raise, or whether some of the “heavy hitters” who are supporting the committee will contribute. He said the campaign isn’t planning to match the Realtors’ spending.
Farley said the campaign has already been working behind the scenes with phone banks and door-to-door canvassing. The committee is planning a press conference on October 10, which is the day early ballots start going out to voters, and will soon release an economic analysis showing the negative effects that Prop. 126 will have.
The committee won’t have the money to run television ads, Farley acknowledged. But he said the “all-too-rare strange bedfellows coalition” that No on Proposition 126 has assembled will draw attention to the campaign. He noted that Gov. Doug Ducey’s campaign recently voiced his opposition to the measure, as did Democratic gubernatorial nominee David Garcia, and Esposito pointed out that both candidates for state treasurer, Democrat Mark Manoil and Republican Kimberly Yee, came out against the ballot measure as well.
“It’s going to be definitely a David-and-Goliath battle, but I think we can aim our slingshot in the right place,” Farley said.