Court: Education tax initiative can be described on ballots as ‘tax increase’

By Howard Fischer

Capitol Media Services/East Valley Tribune

Arizona voters will see Proposition 204 described on their ballots as a “tax increase” despite protests from proponents that it really is not.

In a brief order, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected complaints by sponsors of the Quality Education/Quality Jobs initiative that such a description is misleading.

They pointed out that the levy, if approved, would begin the day after the current one-cent temporary hike approved by voters in 2010 expires. The result, they argued, is that the current 6.6 percent state sales tax rate would remain the same.

But Justice Scott Bales, writing for the court, said Secretary of State Ken Bennett “satisfied his duty” to prepare a fair analysis.

The ruling comes less than two weeks after the same court rebuffed a bid by a Republican-controlled legislative committee to label the effect of the initiative as a tax increase. In that case, a trial judge ruled — and the high court agreed — that the Legislative Council failed to prepare an impartial analysis of Proposition 204 for the brochure that is mailed to the homes of all registered voters.


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August 2012