Legislators called back for sales tax bill
Governor's office unsure what to expect from lawmakers
When the state legislature finished its regular session on Tuesday night, they hadn't finished all their work.
Arizona Governor Jane Hull said that she plans to call back the legislators for a special session so they can discuss and possibly place a sales tax proposal on the November ballot.
The proposal, dubbed Arizona 2000, entails a 0.6 percent sales tax increase that could bring $440 million to the state's education system.
Of that, 15 percent would go to the three state universities, bringing in about $20 million to the University of Arizona.
"We need to turn our attention to education," said Francie Noyes, Hull's press secretary.
The Arizona legislators finished their 100-day session pushing through all of the Governor's appointees - including new regents Gary Stuart and Christina Palacios - but not addressing Hull's sales tax plan for education.
"They need a little time to catch their breath," Noyes said.
In the special session, Hull hopes that the legislators will approve the sales tax proposal so that it may go on the November ballot, Noyes said.
If the legislature does not, they can still place the proposal before the public if they collect signatures from 15 percent of the registered voters.
Hull plans to meet with the legislative leadership next week.
"I think they've earned a few days off, but they will be back," Hull stated in a press release.
When the sales tax increase was first proposed March 22, some officials in the Governor's office said that they were concerned about opposition from the legislature.
Noyes said that she is not sure what position the lawmakers will take during the special session.
"You can't predict what the legislature is going to do," she said.
One reason the plan came about is because the legislators themselves have complained that the education system requires more funding, Noyes said.
"We want to do this based on what they, themselves, are saying," she said. "We believe we have a shot."
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Graham Keegan worked with Hull to draw up the proposal.
While representatives from Keegan's office also said that they don't know what to expect from the legislators, Patricia Likens, department of education spokeswoman, added that the legislature sometimes takes action on the wrong issues.
"I think that they often tend to focus on things like if a student can recite the Declaration of Independence," Likens said. "There are fundamental things that don't get done."
Ryan Gabrielson can be reached at Ryan.Gabrielson@wildcat.arizona.edu.