July 9, 2012

Brewer Opposes School Sales Tax Extension

Governor championed similar increase in 2010 for 3 years

By The Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer says she opposes a proposed one-cent state sales tax increase to fund education.

Initiative petitions filed last month would have Arizona voters decide in November on a permanent increase of a penny on the dollar. Such a tax could raise $900 million to $1 billion annually.

Backers say 80 percent of the money would go to education and the rest to other specified services that supporters say have been underfunded.

Brewer says she opposes the proposed increase because the measure would tie the hands of the Legislature in deciding how to balance the budget and set spending priorities.

That's because the proposal would bar cuts in K-12 public school funding below existing levels.

That idea came after four straight years of education funding cuts in Arizona that took more than $1 billion away from education at all levels.

This year, with a state surplus and pressure from Brewer and others to increase educational spending, the Legislature added back some money but decided to save $450 million in a rainy day fund.

Brewer won nearly two-thirds voter approval in 2010 of a temporary sales tax increase that expires in mid-2013 and said afterward that she had "risked my career" in doing so. At the time, many of her fellow Republicans in the Legislature opposed it.

The new measure would go into effect immediately after expiration of the current tax.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett declared two weeks ago that the petitions filed by the Arizona Education Parent Network were invalid because of a flaw in the measure's wording.

Proponents have filed suit in Maricopa County Superior Court to get the measure on the ballot. A hearing on the suit is scheduled for July 18.

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