Decision 2012

Nov 6, 2012 10:37 AM

Arizona ballot includes tax hike, election changes

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona voters on Tuesday decide the fate of nine ballot propositions, including a proposed sales tax increase and a major change to the state's election system.

The one-cent sales tax increase would be permanent, replacing a temporary voter-approved increase of the same amount that expires next year. Revenue from the permanent increase would be directed to education, highway projects, social services and health care.

Supporters said the tax increase would provide funding for priorities neglected by the Legislature, while opponents said a tax increase isn't necessary and that the added tax burden would stifle the economy.

The so-called "top two" measure would change how Arizona conducts primary elections. Approval would mean that only the primary's top two finishers regardless of party affiliation would advance to the general election. And voters could vote for any primary election candidate regardless of party affiliation.

Now, each party's nominee advances to the general election. Also, people registered with a party now can use only the primary election ballot of that party.

Supporters said the proposal would produce more candidates willing to work across party lines. Critics said it would weaken political parties and the voices they provide.

Both the sales tax and primary election questions were put on the ballot through initiative campaigns, while the remaining seven ballot measures were referred to voters by the Legislature.

Other Arizona ballot measures would declare state sovereignty over most federal land in the state, provide small businesses with a bigger break on property taxes on equipment, give the governor more say over appointments of judges and create a new legal protection for crime victims.

Other referendums would place a cap on property tax valuation increases, allow state trust land to be traded under certain circumstances and institute a temporary requirement to use at least a minimum amount of trust land income for education and other government programs.

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