Do you think it’s more important to use millions of taxpayer dollars to fund union activities than to fund programs for seniors and children?

I don’t.

The long-standing practice in Phoenix is not only grossly unfair to taxpayers but, as the court ruled on June 6, illegal. After the Goldwater Institute sued the city and the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA), a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled it unconstitutional. It’s a clear violation of the state’s Gift Clause, which prevents government from giving your money away to private interests that can’t clearly define a specific public benefit. Thanks to the Goldwater Institute for standing up for taxpayers.

There is no public benefit in union leaders lobbying city government for more of your money, or lobbying the Legislature, or getting together to plan and attend union meetings.

There is a better way, one that Phoenix’s recently hired police chief has experience with. Police Chief Daniel Garcia spent 33 years in the Dallas Police Department, rising to assistant chief. There, when union members want to conduct union business, they asked for “business leave” from their supervisors. Their time is paid by union dues, not taxpayers.

That seems a much more fair and workable model not only for the police unions but for all the city unions, which have a deal like PLEA that has city taxpayers funding union activity and taking city workers off their jobs at the same time. Phoenix budgeted $3.7 million of your money this year to allow that. We should localize the Dallas model for Phoenix.

Taxpayers should not be forced to gift their hard-earned dollars illegally to unions so they can work to get more taxpayer dollars. Phoenix needs to stop the practice for all public unions, and for good. It’s just not fair.

Nor legal.

• Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio represents District 6, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at council.district.6@phoenix.gov or (602) 262-7491.

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