Arizona Capitol Reports
Friday, June 29, 2012

The Quality Education and Jobs Committee described its filing of two versions of its one-cent sales tax initiative as a “clerical error” and a “hyper-technicality” that shouldn’t thwart the will of nearly 300,000 voters who want to see the measure on the November ballot. But Kevin McCarthy, president of the Arizona Tax Research Assn and a critic of the initiative, scoffed at the characterization, arguing the funding difference for K-12 education between the two versions is more than $600 million. Citing a JLBC analysis, McCarthy said the total amount earmarked for education under the version deemed official by Bennett’s office is roughly $16.3 billion between FY14 to FY30. But under the Quality Education and Jobs’ version, it’s only $15.68 billion. That’s because the campaign’s version annually sets aside another $350 million for universities and state infrastructure once revenues from the tax increase exceed $1.544 billion. In all, the campaign’s version would set aside more money – about $550 million more – to universities over the same time frame than the official text. Given the hundreds of millions of dollars in difference, McCarthy said for the Quality Education and Jobs Committee to say the two-version error was a “hyper-technicality” is to “suggest people don’t care about the actual wording of initiatives.” “To say it’s hyper-technical ignores how important it is for people to get the actual reading of it,” he said.