I was reading about the Quality Education and Jobs Act tax, which is set to expire in May 2013, and which was presented to the voters back in 2010 under the guise that this new tax would be a temporary tax and it would expire in 2013, as it should.

In the July 11 edition of the Ahwatukee Foothills News publication, the front-page story addresses the efforts of public education activists to have the 1-cent sales tax renewed. This tax was placed before the voters with the strict assurance that it would disappear after three years, and that it was there to help the school districts overcome shortfalls. Now, however, the truth comes out — the revenue generated by this added sales tax is now integrated into the budget and it would be “a travesty to public education” if the tax is removed, as it should and as it was voted on by the taxpayers.

I have always maintained that once a tax is approved, it is nearly impossible to get rid of it, because the extra funds quickly become the new norm for the budgets and these funds are spent sometimes quite vicariously. Now, with these 290,000 alleged signatures before you, the PE activists are looking to force your hand on this issue and I, for one, am diametrically opposed to these efforts. The taxpayers were, in essence, lied to and fraudulently duped into voting for this “temporary” tax. I am really tired of the lying and the cheating going on in many government circles and it is really high time that someone has the guts to step up and tell them: “You have had the benefit of these past three years of this additional tax revenue, but now it’s time to solve your internal issues. You were given three years to balance your books and fix the problems, but you have become complacent and stagnant in your budgeting tactics.” I think it is right to call these PE activists on the mat and have them answer some tough questions regarding the lackadaisical attitudes they have become so accustomed to, rather than working hard to find the cure to the ills that led them to ask for the increased sales tax in the first place. They must clean up their house and not make taxpayers feel guilty about the tax going away.

The taxpayers held up their end of the “bargain,” but now it’s time for them to give us a report on what they have done to hold up their end. If they can, that is. Taxes are important and I believe that we pay more than our fair share of it here in Phoenix. But there are signs of austerity measures on the horizon and there are still many unemployed people in our state. These people do not have the luxury of having a city government implement a separate sales tax to help pay for their needs, yet the school districts do. Make the right decision for the taxpayers and do away with the 1-cent sales tax as it was originally intended, otherwise it will be a really tough sell in the future to ask taxpayers to yet again approve a phony “temporary tax.”

We are all tired of being lied to and taken for fools, Mr. Secretary.

I am all for “quality education,” but there needs to be fiscal responsibility on everyone’s part and I don’t see that happening. It’s not hard to cry about the fact that there isn’t enough money to go around for all the programs, but it’s time to tighten the belt. Or perhaps that’s just not convenient, since it’s easier to stick it to the taxpayers and let them approve the temporary tax. I remember this was a big selling point by the proponents of this measure, stating “it’s just temporary” and will go away after three years. Based on those assurances, taxpayers went ahead and approved it. Now, in retrospect, we see that this temporary tax is not so temporary after all.

Peter van Arkens

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