Tornado and tax prep time
Arizona voters OK sales tax hike

Arizona sales tax increase vote today, other states' tax ballot initiatives later

Voting Arizona's Republican governor has really been under the political microscope this year.

But while most folks outside the Grand Canyon State's borders have focused on its new immigration law, Arizonans today are honing in on Jan Brewer's advocacy of a new $1 billion sales tax.

Brewer's sales tax support has knocked political observers for a loop. "She's where nobody has ever been in my 20-plus years in political life in Arizona," lobbyist Stan Barnes told the Los Angeles Times. "A Republican leading the charge for a tax."

Brewer doesn't have final say on the sales tax, though. That's being left to Arizona voters. The tax hike -- an increase of 1 cent that would take effect July 1 and last for three years -- is a ballot initiative that folks will see when they go to the polls today.

Arizona's sales tax question is just one of 74 (so far) that will be determined by voters across the United States this year.

In addition to today's Arizona tax vote, other notable tax and budget ballot initiatives on 2010 ballots (in November unless otherwise noted) include:

  • Colorado -- Should property, income and other taxes be cut and should state government debt be prohibited without voter approval?  
  • Maine -- Should a law passed in 2009 that lowers the income tax rate and makes up the lost revenue by changing sales taxes be repealed? (June 8)  
  • North Dakota -- Should the state create the North Dakota Legacy Fund, with revenue coming from oil and gas taxes?  
  • Oklahoma -- Should the state constitution be amended to prohibit any entity other than the legislature from setting budget amounts?   
  • Florida, Indiana, Louisiana and Missouri -- Should property tax increases be cut or capped?
  • California -- Should the possession of marijuana be legal and taxed?

Other fiscal proposals before voters this year include whether:         

  • Georgians should face a new $10 fee on car license tags, with the money going into a trauma care trust fund? and
  • Public funds should be used in certain political campaigns in Alaska (August 24), California (June 8) and Florida?

There's also a Proposition 13 in California on June 8. And while it could affect real estate taxes, it should have nowhere near impact of 1978's ground-breaking Prop 13 that sparked a property tax revolt not only in California, but nationwide.

The 2010 Prop 13 would allow owners of all types of buildings to make earthquake safety upgrades without triggering a property tax reassessment.

As is generally the case, social issues will come before many state voters. New this year, though, are health care reform questions on several state ballots.

But my favorite initiative will go before voters in Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee, who must determine if the right to hunt and fish should be added to their state constitutions.

Not a fan: Despite the popularity of this type of law making, I sill don't like the ballot initiative technique.

Too often a measure is enacted based on which side had the most money or the prevailing winds of public emotion. I know that happens within the more traditional legislative process, too, but there you usually get a forum where both sides can present their arguments for further debate.

Obviously, though, I am in the minority here. is tracking this year's various referenda and predicts that there will be more.

Many states, writes Pamela Prah for the state policy publication, have yet to reach their filing deadlines.

Even more notable in 2010, it is state legislatures, not voter activist groups, who are placing many of the most contentious initiatives on ballots.

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