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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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2/27/2010 10:02:00 PM
Arizonans weigh in on proposed sales tax increase
The Associated Press

PHOENIX - Gov. Jan Brewer and nearly 100 other Arizonans are urging voters to approve a proposed temporary sales tax, calling it necessary to keep the state's fiscal condition from getting worse. But tax burdens are already too high, opponents have argued.

"This is a terrible time to raise taxes on Arizona's struggling families and businesses," wrote Tom Jenney, state director of Americans for Prosperity, an anti-tax group.

The Secretary of State's office said Friday it received 120 arguments - 94 for, 26 against - for the official publicity pamphlet that will be mailed to voter households before the May 18 special election.

The only question on the statewide ballot, Proposition 100, would raise the sales tax to 6.6 cents on the dollar, up from 5.6 cents currently, for three years. Local jurisdictions such as school districts also can have their questions on the ballot.

Gov. Jan Brewer called the tax increase "temporary but necessary" to avoid damaging important services.

"Funding will go to our universities and community colleges to keep higher education affordable. It will keep felons locked up, and it will provide Arizona's poorest families the basic help they earnestly need," she said.

Other supporters include university presidents, state agency heads, social-service advocates and leaders of education groups, labor unions and several major business groups.

The tax increase covers only about a third of the state's budget shortfall, but without it, "additional budget cuts to children, K-12 education and health care will be so deep that Arizona may never recover our state infrastructure and competitiveness," two Children's Action Alliance leaders said.

Opponents included current and former legislators and advocates for small businesses.

"This 18 percent tax hike will further exacerbate major drivers of small business failure and job loss - historically low consumer confidence and dramatically lower consumer spending," two Arizona leaders of the National Federation of Independent Business wrote.

"Some will make the argument that we need to take more of your money to cure the budget problem. I think you will agree with me that we need to send a message to government that the state should tighten its belt and learn to live within (its) means, just like you and me," wrote Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City.

Two of Brewer's opponents in the Aug. 24 Republican primary election filed arguments against the increase.

State Treasurer Dean Martin called the proposed tax hike a "government bailout" and said the state should cut spending, "not take more from existing taxpayers."

Yavapai County businessman Buz Mills said Brewer's support for the tax wasn't leadership. "It's the politician's response to dump their problems onto others," he said.

Brewer originally proposed the sales tax increase last March, saying it would be used with spending cuts and federal stimulus dollars to close several years of state budget shortfalls.

Legislators agreed earlier this month to refer the tax increase to voters.

AP-WS-02-26-10 1756EST

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2010
Article comment by: Rich Kramer

The republicans are trying hard to convert AZ into a liberal controlled state but then that is the best thing for the people of AZ. However its a bad thing for the greedy developers.

Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2010
Article comment by: John Smith

I think the republican tax is a great idea and I'm sure come election time the conservatives will pay for the lack of leadership they have shown us all.

Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2010
Article comment by: No More Taxation

We can not take another increase. The economy is bad. Raising taxes is not the answer, manage our money better.

Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2010
Article comment by: Tom Blythe

RJ Retired: Your math skills have also apparently retiired. A 1 cent increase on the current state sales tax of 5.6 cents is an 18% increase. Feel free to use a calculator to verify. How ever you feel about the increase, it is, in fact, 18%.

Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2010
Article comment by: Taxman Cometh

If the legislature would just go back and close all the loopholes they created over the last 20 years for special interest groups there would not be a deficit. The slick politicians would also give up the contributions/kickbacks they received in return. The tax code should revert to the 1990 version and money would flow in from the deep pockets rather than ours.

Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2010
Article comment by: G Prescott

Do the math, a one percent increase on 5.5 percent is 18 percent. But that aside, I have a receipt in front of me and in Prescott the sales tax is 8.35 percent on non-food items and 2 percent on food. Another one percent would make that 9.35 percent, that's on top of property taxes, state and federal income taxes, vehicle registration, etc, that is a lot of taxation. For people to keep saying over and over "it's only one cent on the dollar" is being blind to reality. These increases are adding up.

Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2010
Article comment by: Tom Blythe

I'll vote yes for another tax increase of any kind (State or local) when I become convinced the money already being collected is being spent wisely. Not some of it, not most of it, but all of it. That will not be anytime soon (and as for locally probably never). State and local government spending has exploded over the past 5-6 years. The pro-tax people say it will be economic disaster if we just cut back spending to what it was 3 or 4 years ago. That's ridiculous on it's face. It's like saying that if you spent 10 years living fairly comfortable on $50K per year and then had a spike in income (a bonus if you will) of an additional $5K per year for a couple of years that you could never live on $50K per year again. I understand you would not want to, and all those that have benefitted from the extra $5K are those that are screaming the loudest, but to say it is impossible is foolish. Of course it is possible. Not pleasant, but possible.

Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2010
Article comment by: Oh Please

Ms. Brewer said, in a recent address in Prescott, that the budget shortfall will be made up by cutting education. Why is this always one of the first things politicians threaten to cut when revenues fall? Of course! Education is the Holy Grail. However, when pressed, she said she could not cut 'voter mandated' spending. Why not? Just put this type of spending programs back on the ballot and watch how fast we can cut your spending, Ms Brewer.

Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2010
Article comment by: Ken In Prescott

I heard the other day that 1 in 5 AZ people are out of work. Now is not the time to increase taxes on those that still are working. The state needs to learn how to cut back just as those that are out of work have had to.

Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2010
Article comment by: RJ Retired

It's amazing to me that "two Arizona leaders of the National Federation of Independent Business" can manage to calculate an 18 % increase from a "penny on the dollar" tax increase. I guess that it's more frightening that way. Why do we have a need to make people fearful? Do you think we are more easily controlled that way? A penny is a penny on the dollar fellas.

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