The September PebbleCreek Democratic Club Zoom meeting focused on the three propositions on the November ballot, Props 207, 208, and 449.
Mike Robinette, executive director of Southern Arizona NORML, discussed Prop 207, the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, a highly-supported (62% according to the latest poll numbers) ballot initiative to legalize adult-use (recreational) marijuana in Arizona. If passed, the initiative is anticipated to generate $3 billion in excise taxes paid by customers and vendors for the state over the next decade, to be directed to the community colleges, law enforcement, public service organizations, highways and infrastructure, and social justice reinvestment. Adults 21 and older would be able to possess one ounce of marijuana with no more than five grams of it being marijuana concentrates (extracts). The law would allow limited home cultivation. Marijuana use would remain illegal in public places and no marijuana products could be sold that imitate brands marketed to children. Driving, flying, or boating impaired to even the slightest degree by marijuana would remain illegal. More information at www.smartandsafeaz.com.
Prop 208, the Invest in Education Act, is designed to provide additional funding for public education by establishing a 3.5% surcharge on taxable income above $250,000 annually for single persons or married persons filing separately, and on taxable income above $500,000 annually for married persons filing jointly or head of household filers. The surcharge is only on the income that exceeds the $250,000 or $500,000 taxable income, so if a single individual reports taxable income of $251,000, the surcharge is 3.5% on the $1,000, or $35. Tax revenue from this surcharge would provide funds to improve teacher hiring; increase salaries for teachers and non-administrative support employees; career training and higher education pathway programs for high school students and the Arizona Teachers Academy; and increasing the dollar amount of scholarships available through the Arizona Teachers Academy, according to Eric Chalmers of Strategies 360. More information at InvestInEd.com.
Prop 449 continues the existing property levy that funds 12% of Valleywise Health Systems budget, Maricopa County’s only public health system. Since 1877, Valleywise Health has offered a wide range of medical services across its multiple health care facilities: Valleywise Health Medical Center, a teaching hospital, with adult (Level I) and pediatric (Level II) trauma centers; Arizona Burn Center; three Behavioral Health Centers; 12 Community Health Centers; the McDowell Healthcare Center; and Arizona Children’s Center. Of the 400,000 patients treated annually, 65% are uninsured or underinsured, including the homeless. They also provide first-choice care for first responders, and physician and medical personnel training in dozens of specialties. More information at www.yesforvalleywise.com/prop-449-faqs.
The PC Dem Club’s next meeting is Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. (post-debate). Everyone is welcome and we will be joined by most of the county’s Democratic candidates. For more info, go to PCDemClub.org.