Arizona budget stalled by sales tax increase initiative
Phoenix, Arizona: On Friday, lawmakers attempted to pass a state budget for the new fiscal year which began July 1, 2009. But, by the end of the day, lawmakers found themselves at yet another stalemate on the already late budget. The major point of contention is the Gov. Jan Brewer's proposal to place a temporary one-cent hike in the 5.6 percent sales tax rate on the November 2009 ballot for voters. Lawmakers approved a state budget in June but only days later Brewer vetoed the bill because it did not include the sales tax measure. The sales tax increase, if placed on the ballot and approved by voters, would be a temporary three-year temporary increase. Republican Senators Pamela Gorman and Ron Gould have already stated that they are opposed to the governor's tax measure. However on Friday morning Sen. Jack Harper announced that he would support the measure but only if additional spending reductions are made to the budget The spending reduction includes reducing the number of state and university workers by 5% by February 2010. Harper previously argued, "As long as others are driving up the spending in state government, it’s not my responsibility to provide them the revenues," in regards to the sales tax measure. Democrat lawmakers said that they too are uncomfortable approving the sales tax measure because they don't want to use sales taxes paid by consumers in order to balance the budget. According to Brewer, "If we don't get additional revenue in 2011, it will be a disaster. 2012 will be a major catastrophe."