State Capitol News
Mon July 20, 2009
State budget deadline looms
By Howard Fischer
Phoenix, AZ – A deadline is rapidly approaching for one possible solution to
the state's budget crisis.
The main sticking point continues to be the demand by Gov. Jan
Brewer to ask voters to approve a temporary hike in the state
sales tax -- and the resistence to doing that by many lawmakers.
But even if a deal can be reached, various federal and state laws
govern how special elections can be called. That means lawmakers
need to act by the end of next week to put the measure on the
November ballot. House Speaker Kirk Adams said that's the
preferred date. But he said that isn't the only option.
"Because it's a special election, we can literally call the
election date at any time."
Adams conceded that a special election on any other day would
depress voter turnout. But he said lawmakers are just running out
of options to balance the budget for the fiscal year that started
three weeks ago. The other problem is there are not enough
Republicans willing to support a sales tax hike. Some Democrats
will go along, if the rate is dropped but more things are taxed.
Adams said that will have to be considered.
"There are a menu of options that are available to us. It's a
matter of cobbling together the best policy, and that policy
which can garner the necessary votes."