State Capitol News
1:12 pm
Wed October 19, 2011

Educators and business leaders craft plan for tax plan to keep state budget in the black

Phoenix, AZ – At the moment, there is more money coming in to the state treasury than is going out. In fact, the projections are that Arizona will end this budget year with an extra $450 million in the bank. But the only reason that is occurring is because voters approved a temporary sales tax hike last year. Only thing is, that tax goes away on June 1, 2013 -- along with the $900 million a year it generates. Andrew Morrill, president of the Arizona Education Association, said various business and education leaders have been meeting to craft a plan that would guarantee funding for education and also have some measurements designed to ensure that student performance improves. But he said this is not some academic exercise.

(It is in complete awareness -- and in substantial response -- to the fact that there's a funding cliff coming in 2014 if nothing is done.)

Morrill said exactly what form any proposed new tax would take has not been decided. But he pointed out that, like the 2010 levy, it would have to have public support.

(We've been looking at what polling suggests votes are comfortable with. We know that there are limited options out there and we're still considering proposals. We've got to be mindful of what folks have indicated they will support.)

The idea of a new tax is on the radar of some lawmakers, like Rep. John Kavanagh who chairs the House Appropriations Committee.

(That's a possibility -- but one that I believe would be counterproductive, in that it would stall an already stalling economy under that scenario.)

That's not the only opposition. Gov. Jan Brewer, who championed the 2010 tax hike over objections of many members of her own party, is unlikely to take the lead this time. Press aide Matthew Benson said his boss is instead focused on -- quote -- budgeting conservatively and fighting ObamaCare. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.