Taxing Questions 

Voters soundly reject the extension of a one-cent sales tax for education

Arizonans will be paying less in sales taxes next year, as a bid to extend the one-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2010 overwhelmingly failed at the ballot.

Proposition 204, the Quality Education and Jobs Act, was rejected by 64.9 percent of the voters as of 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

State Sen.-elect Steve Farley said that voters sent a message on Tuesday—and that he and his fellow legislators now have a lot of work to do.

“Voters are clear that they don’t want education to be funded through sales tax,” Farley said. “But because they support candidates who support $2 billion in education cuts, it’s clear we need to keep our kids from falling off the cliff next May.”

The only other voter initiative on the ballot, Proposition 121, was also soundly rejected by voters. More than two-thirds of voters said no to the proposition, which would have scrapped the current system of electing partisan candidates in primaries in favor of a new system that would have all candidates run in single primary, with the top two advancing to the general election.

Pima County Democratic Party chairman Jeff Rogers was glad to see Prop 121 lose—and he said he was thankful for help from outside committees who campaigned against the initiative.

“Thank God,” said Rogers, who had been among the politicos who had urged Arizonans to vote against the measure. “That dirty, dark money helped us—although it wasn’t our dark, dirty money.”

Former lawmaker Pete Hershberger, a supporter of Prop 121, refused to rule out a return of the open-primaries initiative. “There was just too much organized opposition from the political parties,” said Hershberger. “We’ll see how it works out in California, and it might be back.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Tucson Proposition 409, which would allow the city of Tucson to sell bonds to do street repairs, remained too close to call. As of 1:30 p.m., “no” led “yes” by just 935 votes. Since some 80,000 ballots in Pima County had yet to be counted as of Wednesday afternoon, the prop’s fate may not be known for days.

“It looks like it’s going to be close,” Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said on election night. “I hope that the people of Tucson will support fixing our roads.”

In other proposition news:

• In the most-lopsided ballot-proposition decision, almost 80 percent of voters approved Proposition 114, which amends the Arizona Constitution to prevent criminals from seeking financial restitution in court from victims of crime.

• Voters overwhelmingly shot down Proposition 115, which would have given the governor more power over judicial appointments. More than 72 percent voted no.

“That’s really great news,” said Rogers. “We have a wonderful system that’s a model for the country.”

• Voters also said no to Proposition 116, which would have provided a property-tax break for businesses, by about 13 percentage points.

• More than 57 percent of voters approved Proposition 117, which simplifies Arizona’s property-tax system and caps property values for taxation purposes.

• Proposition 118, which would provide more-consistent funding for schools through investment trusts that help with the state’s education funding, was too close to call at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. “No” had 50.24 percent of the vote as of press time, leading “yes” by 6,407 votes—out of well more than 1.35 million counted.

• Some 61.7 percent of voters approved Proposition 119, which allows swaps of state land with voter approval.

• More than two-thirds of voters rejected Proposition 120, which would have allowed the state to claim ownership of federal land within the state.

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