DALLAS — Arizona’s secretary of state, Ken Bennett, on Tuesday rejected petitions signed by more than 290,000 voters calling for a Nov. 6 vote to continue a one-cent sales tax that expires in May.
Bennett said that petition sheets from the Quality Education and Jobs initiative weren’t attached to a correct copy of the proposal filed with the state election office. The petitioners are expected to challenge Bennett’s ruling in court.
Bennett, who is running for governor in 2014, earlier this year sought to keep President Obama’s name off the November ballot, claiming that there was no proof the president was born in the United States. Bennett later decided to let Obama run in the state.
The conservative Arizona Tax Research Association urged Bennett to reject the sales tax petitions submitted to his office in 60 boxes Monday. The association said the language used on the two forms was not identical and should be rejected.
Leaders of the initiative called the criticism “hypertechnical.”
The Quality Education and Jobs initiative proposes to continue the three-year sales tax that was approved by voters in 2010.
At the urging of Gov. Jan Brewer, the temporary tax was designed to reduce the impact of deep budget cuts.
“Arizona, unfortunately, led the nation in cuts to K-12 over the past four years, eliminating $1 billion in funding,” the organization said in its promotional materials.
Meanwhile, in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, a pair of petition drives threaten to upend the troubled city’s budget process and possibly cancel a controversial deal to help finance the sale of the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Coyotes.
Glendale business leaders are petitioning against a temporary, City Council-approved 0.07% sales tax hike.
Two other Glendale residents began a petition drive to repeal a 20-year, $324 million lease agreement with proposed Coyotes buyer Greg Jamison.
The City Council approved the deal this month after years of trying to keep the Coyotes in the city-owned Jobing.com arena.
The arena was financed with $180 million of Glendale revenue bonds specifically for the Coyotes.
When the team filed for bankruptcy in 2009, a bidder for the team proposed moving it to Canada. The NHL then bought the team until a long-term owner could be found.
Both groups would need to gather about 2,000 signatures by early July to obtain a spot on the Nov. 6 ballot.