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Beware of Americans for Prosperity’s prescriptions

Note to elected officials: Americans for Prosperity thinks it knows better than you how to run government. And they don’t seem to have much more respect for the intellect of working Arizonans.

Tom Jenney’s commentary (“Government unions should not oppose important reforms,” March 11 edition of the Arizona Capitol Times) was way off the mark on several bills under consideration in the Arizona legislature. (Editor’s note: Jenney is the Arizona director of Americans for Prosperity.)

The historic failure of the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) in Colorado should be reason enough to discredit AFP’s push for similar expenditure limitations here. Rather than keeping Colorado out of dire fiscal straights, TABOR made it more difficult for the state to recover from the last recession and led to the downgrading of the state’s bond rating. Within a few years, legislators were scrambling to uncuff themselves from this unworkable law that made it impossible to govern effectively. There is no reason to think TABOR-like bills such as HB2707, SB1231, SB1408, SCR1019 and SCR1026, if passed, would work any better in Arizona.

Another piece of Americans for Prosperity’s legislative agenda, SB1322, also trades the judgment of elected officials for a crude budgeting method based purely on ideology. Arizona’s local governments are already pursuing outsourcing in appropriate areas, but with an eye toward maintaining a skilled work force and a competitive edge for attracting new businesses. Cutting waste must be done with a scalpel, not a blunt instrument like SB1322.

It is reckless ideas like those above that show why union members, by a 6-to-1 margin, want their union to speak out on political issues and keep them involved. Arizona’s union members understand where their dues go, and, of course, contributions to union political action committees remain voluntary and accounted for separately. Rather than “protecting” paychecks, SB1365 and SCR1028 serve only to silence the voices of the middle class.

Meanwhile, the Koch Brothers can keep writing huge checks to underwrite Americans for Prosperity’s agenda for the corporate class, working families and our cities and towns be damned.

— Rebekah Friend is the executive director and secretary/treasurer of the Arizona AFL-CIO.

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