TIME To Die

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled against backers of the T.I.M.E. initiative that would have raised the sales tax by a penny per dollar to fund highway improvements, build commuter rail between Tucson and Phoenix, and local road and mass transit projects.

That might be a victory for backers of the plan as well as critics. Given the economy, we had a hard time believing that a majority of voters would have supported it in November. It’s a big tax increase at a bad time.

Here’s the underlying problem that remains unresolved: Gas tax revenues just can’t keep up with the need for infrastructure in the state. So now the problem of funding transportation will go back to the Arizona Legislature, which has shown little appetite for tackling the challenge.

Ballot Initiative Update: Sloppy Ops Cut Prop Crop

What’s up with the ballot props?

• A Maricopa County judge has ruled that backers waited too long to file suit to challenge the decision to toss T.I.M.E. transportation initiative off the November ballot. That ruling appears headed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

• The cacti crowd will need to go to court to keep a state trust land reform package on the ballot.

• The Arizona Civil Rights Initiative has been rejected by Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer. Supporters are contemplating legal action.

• The Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act got tossed from the ballot, but backers prevailed in their legal fight to get it back on.

Sounds like there are some sloppy signature gatherers mixed up with tough standards this year.

Road Blocked: TIME Initiative Does Not Make Ballot

This just in from the Secretary of State’s Office:

Secretary of State Jan Brewer today officially disqualified Proposition 203, the “Transportation and Infrastructure Moving AZ’s Economy” (TIME) Initiative as the measure lacked the minimum number of signatures to qualify for the November General Election ballot. The proponents for the TIME Initiative had initially turned in 260,698 petition signatures of which 122,247 were deemed invalid after the verification and processing of petitions by the Secretary of State’s office and county recorders.

On July 24, the Secretary of State had reported that TIME had 238,874 signatures still eligible (after removing 21,824 signatures), (and) the remaining signatures still needed to be checked by the county recorders.

Random samples of 5 percent of signatures are then Continue reading

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Democrat Tom Prezelski on Taxes

Democratic incumbent Tom Prezelski is one of seven candidates running for two seats in the Legislative District 29 House of Representatives Democratic primary that voters will decide on Sept. 2. We asked him some questions about tax policy.

Do you support the permanent repeal of the state property tax?

I’m in favor of letting the repeal lapse. It’s a tax that doesn’t cost most taxpayers very much but it has a tremendous impact on the budget.

Do you support borrowing for school construction?

Yes. Basically because if you pay upfront for construction, you tend to make less responsible decisions about issues like conservation measures, renewable (energy), different kinds of building designs, that sort of thing, so in the long run the state can actually save money by borrowing for school construction because people will be encouraged to make more creative decisions in that regard.

Would you vote for the TIME initiative, which increases the sales tax by a penny per dollar to fund highway, rail and local transportation projects?

Yes, it adds about $6 billion dollars to Pima County (including) $3.4 billion for alternatives, for transit, rail, pedestrian improvements, bicycle improvements–so you have to explain where that $3.4 billion for those important things is gonna come from without the T.I.M.E. initiative.

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Democrat Ephraim Cruz on Taxes

Democrat Ephraim Cruz is one of seven candidates running for two seats in the Legislative District 29 House of Representatives Democratic primary that voters will decide on Sept. 2. We asked him some questions about tax policy.

Do you support the repeal of the state property tax?

No, I do not. We cannot keep gutting the tax revenue at every turn, as the Republican-led legislature has been doing for too long. It’s affecting services again in the most vulnerable district, District 29.

Do you support borrowing for school construction?

In light of the actions of, again, the GOP-led legislature for the last few years, we face a position where we have to exercise that avenue. In that regard, I support the governor’s signing of this bill to fund it in that manner.

Would you vote for the TIME initiative, which increases the sales tax by a penny per dollar to fund highway, rail and local transportation projects?

Yes, I support it. That goes toward the speed rail that I’d like to see us realize in the state. I’d much rather see a greater percentage of that tax revenue going toward public transportation and less of it going toward highways, but yes.

Any other quick thoughts on tax or budget reform you’d like to share?

Just to recap with taxation, we need reform. The state has enjoyed a decrease of taxes and an increase in salaries from 1990 until now. We need to raise income taxes and corporation taxes so that we have the revenues to fund these services–the basic human necessities, education, public transportation and health care that we need, especially in my district.

Televised Debate: Democrats Phil Lopes, Olivia Cajero Bedford and John Kromko

If you missed last night’s Legislative District 27 debate with Democrats Phil Lopes, Olivia Cajero Bedford and John Kromko on KUAT-TV, you can watch it here.

Six Pack: A Not Quite LiveBlog of the Legislative District 29 Debate

Voters in Southside Legislative District 29 will have choose between seven candidates for two House seats in the Sept. 2 Democratic primary. Incumbent Rep. Linda Lopez is seeking the Senate seat that Democrat Victor Soltero is giving up, while incumbent Tom Prezelski is seeking re-election.

Six of the seven candidates met last week in a Clean Elections debate. (Gil Guerra was a no-show.) Watch it yourself courtesy of Clean Elections or check Sonoran Alliance for a different analysis. (We wish Clean Elections would put these things on YouTube so we could just embed them right here on ScrambleWatch. There’s a chance John Kromko could go viral!)

Here are highlights:

7:05 p.m.: Moderator Christopher Conover of KUAT-TV gets the show on the road by telling us about Clean Elections and how anyone who gathers 220 $5 contributions can get a fat check from the government to run for office. He also tells us that sign-language translators are in the audience. They’ll get a workout tonight.

7:09 p.m.: The candidates begin introducing themselves. First up: Eric Carbajal Bustamante, who, at 24, is not yet old enough to serve in the Legislature. Bustamante is making his first run for office. He grew up in Southern Arizona and teaches phys ed at a charter school.

7:10 p.m.: Ephraim Cruz is a former Border Patrol agent who got crosswise with the agency and ended up beating federal charges of Continue reading