Arizona Wants Kids’ Fund to Plug Budget Hole,|State Board Says in Fighting Ballot Language

PHOENIX (CN) – Arizona is using deceptive ballot language to “improperly persuade” voters to kill funding for its Early Childhood Development and Health Board and throw the money into the General Fund, the state-created Board claims in Superior Court. The Board estimated it had $377 million in the bank at the end of fiscal year 2009.

     The Board claims the state violated the law by refusing to write “an impartial description of the ballot measure.”
     The Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Board, known as First Things First, claims that the language of the “ballot measure analysis” for House Concurrent Resolution 2001 “disproportionately emphasizes the administrative requirements for the fund, which account for no more than 10 percent of the monies allocated to the fund, rather than the fund’s programs and grants, which must account for 90 percent of the monies.”
     Arizona voters created First Things First in 2006, through Proposition 203, a tobacco tax initiative that set aside 80 cents from every pack of cigarettes sold.
     HCR 2001 would kill the board, effective Dec. 1.
     The Board claims the state’s “analysis” of its proposal contains at least five misstatements, or deceptions, and that it “is not an impartial analysis,” and “is calculated to cause voters to vote in favor of HCR 2001 thereby repealing Proposition 203.”
     It claims the analysis lacks context; ignores the way 90 percent of the fund’s money is used – for children – and spends disproportionate space on the 10 percent administrative costs; does not even mention that 90-10 spending requirement; falsely claims that the Board is required to fund field offices, though field offices are discretionary; and fails to mention that Arizona voters – not the Legislature – created First Things First.
     First Things First seeks Writ of Mandamus ordering the Legislature “to adopt an impartial analysis of HCR 2001.” The fund is represented in Maricopa County Court by Paul F. Eckstein and Rhonda L. Barnes with Perkins Coie.

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