State Capitol News
1:48 pm
Fri September 11, 2009

Sales Tax Ballot Initiative a Possibility

Phoenix, AZ – Governor Jan Brewer couldn't get her way with lawmakers on a
temporary sales tax hike. But there is another option: the initiative process.

In essence, supporters of
the concept of increasing sales taxes to bridge the gap between
revenues and expenses would have to get the signatures to put the
issue on the ballot. Brewer said she'd prefer it if lawmakers put
the question to voters themselves.

"But we know we're going to have to do something. We've got an
$11 billion budget, we've got $7 billion in revenue and we've got
a $4 billion deficit. We've got a $4 billion deficit. Somewhere,
somehow, we've got to resolve it."

The advantage of an initiative is it bypasses the need to
marshall the votes in the Legislature, votes Brewer has been
unable to line up. But the trade-off is that lawmakers can
schedule an election any time they want. The soonest an
initiative could go to voters is November 2010.

"Of course, if it does wait until November, it's not going to
help us out much currently. But will certainly help us out down
the road. Because we're going to have to continue to do more
cutting. We're going to have to do some more cutting. The
stimulus dollars will be gone. And we need that temporary revenue
to bridge that gap."

So far, though, no one has filed the necessary papers for an
initiative.