Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Burns: Don't Let Voters Decide On Tax Hike


The top Senate Republican is shying away from putting two measures on a special ballot this spring, at least in part because he fears voters will not decide the issues the way he wants.

Senate President Bob Burns, R-Peoria, said Monday he has a "gut feeling" that a proposal for a temporary tax hike would turn into a one-sided campaign, with his personal position against the increase on the losing side. Burns said he believes that every group that hopes to get money from the taxes would pull out all the stops - and spend whatever it takes - to get it approved.

Burns also is balking at putting any plan to let lawmakers tinker with measures previously approved by voters on the same ballot, for the same reason: It might actually fail, which he does not want.

That position makes it murky, at best, whether lawmakers will agree to the calls made last week by Gov. Jan Brewer for a special election on both issues as a way to deal with the fact that state tax collections continue to run far below expenses.

Brewer also asked lawmakers to cut $1 billion in spending next year - with no specifics on which programs should be pared or eliminated - and said the state should expect another $1 billion in federal stimulus aid.

But the governor said that won't be enough to deal with an anticipated $3 billion deficit. So she asked lawmakers to raise an extra $1 billion a year for up to three years in new taxes.

The governor said lawmakers are free to do that themselves. But Burns said there isn't the necessary two-thirds margin in the House and Senate to do that.

Putting it on the ballot takes only a simple majority.

Blog Archive