/ Modified nov 6, 2012 10:46 p.m.

Open Primary, Education Sales Tax Defeated

2-1 margins against both; voters also reject changes to judicial system

Arizonans rejected fundamental change to state political dynamics and limited legislative control over the state budget by rejecting two citizens' initiative propositions in Tuesday's election.

Proposition 121, which would have amended the state constitution to eliminate political party primaries, was defeated 66.8 percent to 33.2 percent, with two-thirds of the state's 1,667 precincts counted.

Proposition 204, which would have made permanent the one-cent school sales tax, was defeated 65.2 percent to 34.8 percent with two-thirds of the precincts counted.

Former Phoenix mayor Paul Johnson formed and led an organization called Open Government to get Proposition 121 on the ballot. Johnson has said it was needed to increase competitiveness and end political extremism and divisiveness, which he said are hurting the state in public policy making.

Opponents said it could result in general elections in which one party dominates by having both candidates on the ballot. In effect, they said, third-party candidates would stand almost no chance of making it to the general election ballot.

Proposition 204 would have changed state law to make permanent the one-cent education sales tax, raising up to $1 billion a year and limiting the Legislature's ability to cut educational funding.

The Arizona Education Parent Network, under leadership of Tucsonan Ann-Eve Pedersen, led the initiative effort, saying legislative cuts to public education were devastating state schools and hurting the economy.

Pedersen said repeatedly during the campaign that the Legislature could not be trusted to fund education adequately.

But voters disagreed, buying the opposition's campaign, led by Arizona State Treasurer Doug Ducey, chair of No on 204. The group hammered at the initiative being a permanent $1 billion-a-year tax increase with little accountability and no guarantee that the money would go to classrooms.

Also defeated Tuesday was Proposition 115, which would have given the governor more power over selection of state Supreme Court justices, appeals court judges and Superior Court judges in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties. It was defeated 72.6 percent to 27.4 percent.

Other statewide ballot proposals:

-- Voters approved Proposition 114 to amend the constitution to protect crime victims from liability in lawsuits by their perpetrators. The vote was 80.3 percent yes to 19.7 percent no.

-- They rejected the personal property tax breaks that Proposition 116 would have given to businesses, 56.3 percent to 33.7 percent.

-- Proposition 117, amending the constitution to limit assessed property valuations to 5 percent annual increases as a way of limiting property taxes, was approved 57.5 percent to 42.5 percent.

-- The vote on Proposition 118, to amend the constitution to change the funding formula for distribution of money from the State Land Trust to public schools, was too close to call, 50.2 percent yes to 49.8 percent no with 73 percent of the votes counted.

-- Voters approved Proposition 119, 62.4 percent to 37.6 percent. It amends the constitution to allow land exchanges under the State Land Trust for protecting military installations from encroaching development and for conservation.

-- They rejected Proposition 120, which would have amended the constitution to declare state sovereignty over all public lands, including federal forests, parks and grazing lands, but excluding military bases and Indian reservations. The vote was 67.7 percent against and 32.4 percent in favor.

Additionally, Tucson voters were nearly evenly split on Proposition 409, in which the city asked for authority to borrow $100 million by issuing bonds. The vote with 77 percent of the precincts counted was 50.3 percent against approval and 49.7 percent in favor.

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