Editorial: Penny savers

When you have 100 of anything, it usually adds up to something of value. When you have 100 pennies, all you have is a heavy purse or wallet. Pennies don’t work in vending machines, parking meters don’t take them and if you lose a penny in your couch, you’re probably just happy you don’t have to carry it around anymore.

The only thing pennies are good for is to improve your luck when you find them on the street or toss them into a fountain. But if Proposition 100 passes in May, pennies may just be the saving grace of Arizona’s education.

The proposition, which will be decided by voters on May 18, is a 1-cent sales tax increase lasting from June 2010 until May 2013. The revenue generated from this tax, expected to be $950 million, will go directly to funding education, health and human services and public safety.

If this proposition passes, the least valuable coin we carry will make a valuable impact on our state — and it won’t only be pennies from our pockets going into the state’s pot.

With beautiful destinations like the Grand Canyon and Sedona, excellent weather in the winter and spring and popular golf resorts speckling the state, Arizona attracts millions of tourists a year. When they go on Arizona shopping sprees, their tax dollars come right back to us.

It’s obvious that taxes are not popular — no one likes to see their hard-earned money handed over to the government to do with as it pleases. But these taxed pennies wouldn’t be lost in the abyss of the Arizona deficit, as lawmakers would be unable to redirect the money from its taxpayer-determined destination. Also, the tax is temporary and would expire after three years.

Even long-time fiscal conservative, Gov. Jan Brewer, is pushing for Proposition 100. Why? Because she knows Arizona’s most vital services needs the money. When the most prominent figure against this proposition is “Joe the Plumber,” a guy from Ohio, we’d have to say we side with the governor — she’s the one with the facts on her desk.

This tax is not a way to suck Arizonans dry, it’s a way to support the services we all make use of.

For the past few years the state has been a beggar, knocking at the doors of state departments looking for areas willing to make cuts. But every department has turned them away.

This isn’t a bad thing — Arizonans realize cutting from the police department will make citizens less safe, they know that taking funding from schools will hurt our education system even more and no one wants to be responsible for denying sick children access to a doctor. We’ve shown where our priorities lie, but it’s up to us to make that statement clear this May.

Is it worth it to see the state fall apart to stop a tax we won’t even notice? Not by our tally.

We say it’s time to start pooling our pennies.

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