[Source: Mary Jo Pitzl, Arizona Republic]
Editor’s note: This story is the ninth in a series explaining the 10 propositions that will appear on the Nov. 2 general-election ballot.
PROPOSITION 301: Land Conservation Fund
This ballot measure seeks voter approval to take the remaining balance in the state Land Conservation Fund and redirect it to the state general fund.
Voters in 1998 approved the Growing Smarter Act, which requires the state to allocate $20 million a year from the general fund into a land-conservation fund to shore up state preservation efforts.
The money is available for 11 years; the final year ends June 30, 2011. There is $122.9 million in the fund, although grant applications from Phoenix, Scottsdale and Coconino County, if awarded, would leave the fund with about $50 million.
The Legislature sent Prop. 301 to the ballot as it looks for money to help balance the state budget, which has been running a deficit. The deficit for the current year is $825 million.
Voter approval is needed to transfer this money because the Land Conservation Fund is protected from legislative interference.
Proponents argue that the money is needed to help balance the state budget, and that need is greater than land conservation. Without the transfer, the Legislature will have to find $123 million elsewhere, such as through cuts, one-time budget gimmicks or possibly tax hikes.
Opponents paint Prop. 301 as a raid by the Legislature that ignores the voters’ will to devote money to land conservation. They argue that there are long-term benefits to preserving open space, ranging from increased quality of life to enhancing the value of state trust land.
- State of Arizona publicity pamphlet for the Nov. 2 election
- Arizona State Land Department
- Arizona State Parks Department, grant applications,
- Arizona Legislature,
- Joint Legislative Budget Committee