Arizona public schools could lose out on millions of dollars if a new one-cent sales tax is kept off the November ballot.
The Quality Education and Jobs Act, a renewal of the one cent sales tax that will expire in May 2013, had more than 290,000 signatures, more than enough to get it on the ballot. But due to a continuity error, the office of the Arizona Secretary of the State rejected the signatures.
The one-cent sales tax was voted on in 2010 and increased Arizona’s state sales tax from 5.6 cents to 6.6 cents on every dollar of taxable items purchased. It generated $900 million total this year and $600 million for public schools. Locally, the Kyrene School District received about $10 million from the revenue.
The case of the Quality Education and Jobs Act will be taken to court on July 18 and the judge will be asked to accept the signatures so that the initiative will be put on the ballot.
The issue was that the electronic copy and the hard copy, which both needed to be submitted to the Secretary of State, did not match up exactly. Mitzi Epstein, chair of the political committee Yes Public Ed, said that seven lines were missing from the hard copy of the 11-page initiative.
“The law does not state what (Secretary of State Ken Bennett) should do in a situation like this,” Epstein said. “He felt he had to reject them.”
On the positive side, however, Epstein said while waiting for the court date, Bennett and his office have been working on confirming the signatures in the event they are accepted by the judge.
If it is not accepted and is not put on the ballot, the loss of revenue will affect the 2013-14 budget of public school districts.
Epstein said she encourages citizens to write to Bennett’s office, urging him to accept the signatures. Contact information can be found on his website, www.azsos.gov.
To find out more about the Quality Education and Jobs Act, visit www.qualityeducationandjobs.com
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