I quit writing endorsements after the last guy I supported in this space was hauled out of City Hall in handcuffs. But I’m a Cowboys fan and I’m like “prende la vela” to all of the saints so that these propositions get a nod from Nogales voters.
The Santa Cruz County Provisional Community College District is one of the most significant boosts to the area’s economy and well-being in recent memory. So on Tuesday, Nov. 8, vote yes on Prop 413 to help us hold on to this important community asset.
For more than 30 years, the provisional college has bolstered post-secondary education opportunities for hundreds of local youth and adults who can’t overcome the challenges of studying elsewhere, or who simply prefer to stay close to home. Gone are the days of inconvenient, sporadic night classes at the musty old Nogales High School. By contrast, the Santa Cruz Center on North Grand Avenue, where college classes are now offered in Nogales, is bright and welcoming.
The SCCPCCD originally partnered with Cochise College, and now Pima Community College, to offer courses germane to our community’s needs, such as education, CNA and EMT training, computer information systems, criminal justice, business and college-transfer courses.
If Prop. 413 does not pass, the board of directors said publicly it will consider closing the doors at the end of the spring 2023 semester, even though it has nearly $4 million in the bank. Those funds could help offset operational costs and improve services and equipment – if they could only spend it.
Passing Prop. 413 allows county voters to tell state government that they want local control. A state-mandated expenditure limitation that dates back 43 years sets the expense cap based in large part on student enrollment. The pandemic tanked that number in half from a high of more than 310. Now, as SCCPCCD claws back its enrollment numbers, they are hampered with a much lower budget.
If Prop. 413 passes, it will not raise your taxes. It will simply allow SCCPCCD to spend the funds that are already in the bank as well as current tax revenues. A vote for Prop. 413 is a vote for continuing to offer students an affordable way to complete two years of college without the expense and inconvenience of having to travel elsewhere. As an added benefit, it keeps our students in town, where they may join the local workforce and contribute to our local economy.
Known as the Home Rule Option, Prop 414 allows the City of Nogales to raise revenue and spend it according to the annual budget approved by mayor and council rather than revert to an overly restrictive spending formula mandated by the state, similar to the college expense cap.
In 2018, Nogales voters overwhelmingly (76 percent) supported a similar measure and there is no reason why they shouldn’t support it once again in the General Election. This ballot measure must be voted on every four years and Nogales voters have approved it every time since 1998.
There isn’t a department that wouldn’t be negatively impacted if Prop. 414 is defeated. It would mean a $17.6 million cut in the budget. Everything from public safety to public works– nothing would be spared by the onerous slashes. If this measure nosedives, count on a devastating blow to our quality of life for the next several years.
The passage of Prop. 414 doesn’t mean the mayor and city council get carte blanche on their spending and fiduciary responsibilities to the community. On the contrary. In these economic troubled times, we all need to be more participatory in and vigilant of local government. Air your grievances during public meetings in Council Chambers and not at the ballot box. May the saints compel you to vote “yes” on Prop. 414.
(Coppola is publisher of the Nogales International and The Daily Territorial in Tucson.)