Ward: State GOP backs tax hike for education

Kelli Ward at a campaign rally in August 2018. /Photo by
Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Party chair getting blowback over tax

By Ben Giles | Arizona Capitol Times

 The state Republican Party has staked out a rare policy position by backing a tax hike – as long as GOP lawmakers don’t have to do it alone.

AZGOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward announced Monday evening her support for legislation that would increase a voter-approved 0.6-cent sales tax earmarked for education to a full penny.

This new tax hike, like the original tax, would also need to be approved by voters on the 2020 ballot.

As is, the tax raises more than $700 million a year for education. Raising the levy to a full penny would increase that amount to roughly $1.1 billion annually, dollars that would flow to K-12 public schools, community colleges and state universities under a proposal backed by a handful of GOP state senators and representatives.

It’s been a decade since the state Republican Party supported raising taxes, and even then, it was only a temporary plan. In 2009, AZGOP Chairman Randy Pullen stuck his neck out for then-Gov. Jan Brewer and supported her push for a short-term, 1-cent sales tax to help fill budget gaps during the Great Recession. Brewer succeeded only after tremendous pushback from Republican lawmakers, and it took roughly a year for her to drag a proposal to refer the tax to the ballot through the Legislature.

Ward said she’s already getting blow back from lawmakers and the public alike.

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