Voters will weigh in on the state’s red ink next month with a special election that could up the state’s sales tax from 5.6 cents per dollar to 6.6 cents, or not.
The deadline to register for the May 18 special election is Monday, April 19, which gives people just days to update old voter registration information or register to vote.
Fortunately people can update their information or register online, at www.servicearizona.com, according to Yvonne Reed, director of communications for the Maricopa County Elections Department.
Maricopa County elections officials are projecting a paltry 30 percent turnout next month, even though the only issue on the ballot concerns money.
If approved, Proposition 100 would add an extra one cent per dollar to the state sales tax, to be collected starting June 1, and expiring after 36 months or if repealed sooner by lawmakers. It is expected to add a little under $1 billion a year to the state’s coffers with 66 percent earmarked for education and 33 percent for health and public safety.
If voters approve Proposition 100, the combined city, county and state sales tax in Phoenix would be 9.3 cents per dollar on purchases.
Lawmakers, including Rep. John McComish (R-Ahwatukee Foothills), point out that two years ago Arizona’s General Fund was about $10 billion and if Proposition 100 fails, the state will have under $7 billion, thanks to the recession.
The state’s general fund is split with 60 percent going to education, 13 percent to AHCCS, 10 percent to prisons and 14 percent supporting the rest of state government. That means lawmakers will have little choice when it comes to where additional budget cuts would fall if Proposition 100 fails.
“There will be pretty serious cuts to education, that’s the big one,” McComish said.
In the Kyrene Elementary School District administrators estimate that 71 teachers will get pink slips and class sizes will have to grow if Proposition 100 fails next month and legislators have to make additional cuts to education.
But Proposition 100 has strong opponents.
“I’m against it,” said Ahwatukee Foothills resident Greta Rogers. “The Legislature and the governor have failed in their fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of this state and I won’t give them any more money to misappropriate.”
Councilman Sal DiCiccio is also against the sales tax, for basically the same reasons, but understands the position the state is in.
He would have preferred lawmakers ask voters to resend some propositions that dictate how money should be spent. Then, if voters said no he would understand why lawmakers would push increasing the sales tax.
“I get both sides of this argument,” DiCiccio said.
For more information on Proposition 100, visit the Arizona Secretary of State’s Web site at www.azsos.gov.