Small businesses among supporters for Arizona's Proposition 123

Proposition 123 would open Arizona's land trust fund to aid education.  

Proponents of Proposition 123 have raised $1.75 million to open up more of Arizona’s land trust fund for sale to support education funding. 

When Arizona became a state, a large swath of land was set aside in a trust dedicated primarily to supporting K-12 education. Proposition 123 would increase access to this land and add $3.5 billion to the state’s education system over the next 10 years.

“It was quite an elegant and creative way of solving this problem,” Arizona State Director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) Farrell Quinlan said. “As you can imagine, small businesses are not interested in looking for ways to pay more taxes."

Quinlan said passing Proposition 123 is a common sense solution that serves to protect taxpayers while providing much needed support to schools.

"[Proposition 123] would take already existing resources and use more of them for a short period of time — that’s a good solution to a problem that other solutions for were really going to put a crimp in our ability to continue to grow our economy,” Quinlan said. 

Proposition 123 also tackles a lawsuit the state is facing for failing to properly fund education during the Great Recession. The state is accused of not complying with a mandate to keep funding matched to inflation. A judge ordered the state to pay $300 million but deferred a decision on if the state would be compelled to pay an additional $1 billion.

“Courts were most likely going to rule against the state,” Quinlan said. “That would most likely result in another crisis where we’d probably have to raise taxes.”

There are strong opponents to Proposition 123, and Quinlan paints its defeat in very stark terms.

“If it were to go down, then we’d be in a position of having to come up with $1.3 billion to pick up the funding that was shorted K-12 education during the Great Recession," Quinlan said. "That’s why it’s so important to small businesses, because there is this looming crisis if Prop 123 does not pass.”

Proposition 123 is on the May 17 special election ballot.

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