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Bill to repeal property tax filed

Sen. Jack Harper has filed a bill to keep in place a property tax relief program that is set to expire next year.

One of the biggest battles this past session centered on the issue, with most Republicans backing the legislation, arguing that to let the tax relief expire is tantamount to a tax increase, and with most Democrats voting against it, saying it is irresponsible to do so when the state faces a gigantic budget hole.

The GOP-controlled Legislature did eventually pass the measure to repeal the state equalization property tax, but Democrat Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed it when it reached her desk last April.

The tax rate was set to zero for fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2009. A fiscal analysis provided by legislative research staff stated that the tax would generate a quarter of a billion dollars in revenue in fiscal year 2010, in the absence of any legislative action.

"In these economic times, I believe it is important to give the citizens an assurance that their property tax will not be arbitrarily raised by inaction by the Legislature," said Harper, a Republican from Surprise.

Given the expansion in the GOP caucuses in both legislative chambers after the November election, observers think it's only a matter of time before the bill is sent to the gubernatorial desk.

Republicans anticipate one big change in 2009: Napolitano is set to leave Arizona to join Barack Obama's administration. When that officially takes place, Secretary of State Jan Brewer, a Republican, will succeed her as governor.

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