A campaign to make permanent Arizona’s 1% sales tax may be derailed by a discrepancy between the official version of the ballot language and the petitions being circulated to put the initiative on the November ballot.
Supporters of the Quality Education and Jobs initiative want to extend the sales tax, which is set to expire in mid-2013. The initiative would make the levy permanent, with 80% of the revenues dedicated to public education, including higher education.
The Arizona Tax Research Association, which opposed the tax extension, said a paper version of the petition being circulated differs from the electronic version filed at the same time with the state.
Arizona law requires that the signatures submitted with the petitions must be attached “at all times during circulation to a full and correct copy of the title and text of the measure or constitutional amendment proposed or referred by the petition.”
Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said he would be reluctant to accept the petitions if they are not valid.
Ann-Eve Pedersen, who is leading the effort, said the petition version omitted only 150 words out of the 9,000 words in the official statement.
Citizens’ petitions are required to be in “substantial compliance” with the official version, she said, not the “strict compliance” required for referendums.
“We believe that case law, the Constitution and the legislative intent are on our side,” she said. “We think it will get on the ballot.”
The Quality Education and Jobs campaign must submit 172,809 valid signatures of registered voters by July 5 to get on the ballot. Pedersen said the group has more than 175,000 signatures and hopes to provide more than 50,000 extra signatures.
Campaign reports show the group has raised $429,000 and spent $421,000 on the effort so far.