Sales tax initiative backers sue Secretary of State

July 17, 2012

Backers of a sales tax increase are scheduled to go to court Wednesay morning to save months of work from being invalidated. 

In 2010, the state legislature referred a one cent sales tax hike to the ballot to help cover budget deficits. Voters approved it. The tax is set to expire next May, but the Quality Education and Jobs Initiative wants to make the tax permanent to fund education, infrastructure, and health care.

Backers of the initiative collected nearly 300,000 signatures to get it on the ballot, but Secretary of State Ken Bennett rejected them, citing a discrepancy between the petitions that volunteers circulated and the version of the initiative filed with his office.

Initiative organizer Ann-Eve Pedersen said Bennett is applying too strict a standard, and has called this a clerical error. But the brief filed by the Attorney General’s office in defense of Bennett cites a 1991 Arizona Supreme Court decision that states: “It is not ‘nit-picking’ to require compliance with the express command of the Arizona Constitution.”

Wednesday’s hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in Maricopa County Superior Court.

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