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Brewer wants special session to pass sales tax referral

Gov. Jan Brewer is anxious to call a special session to ask voters to approve a temporary sales tax increase to help bridge the state’s deficit, Senate President Bob Burns said during a meeting of Republican lawmakers on Jan. 26.

In addition to a sales tax increase, the session would also tackle the extension of the state lottery, $300 million in additional sale-leaseback of state assets and about $350 million in education payment rollovers, said Burns.

Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said he did not know when a special session call will be issued, but said items considered during the special session would have to be resolved by early February in order to hold a May special election on the proposed ballot measures.

“I don’t have a set date,” Senseman said. “We could have some news for you on that before the end of the week. I just don’t know for certain.”

Senseman would not confirm what items will be on the special session call, pointing instead to Brewer’s budget proposal, which includes numerous items that would require voter approval.

One topic, Burns did not mention was a ballot measure on Proposition 204, the 2000 expansion of Medicaid services that Brewer has proposed overturning. Brewer’s Prop. 204 proposal does not include any savings in fiscal year 2010 from the AHCCCS rollback, but is estimated to save the state $382 million in 2011.

When Brewer released her budget plan in mid January, the Governor’s Office said she wanted the Legislature to pass her proposed tax increase outright with a two-thirds vote. Echoing Burns, Senseman acknowledged that Brewer may include a ballot measure on the proposed sales tax hike in her special session call.

“Whatever does the most to fix the deficit in the largest fashion is what this governor is pursuing,” Senseman said.

- Reporter Jeremy Duda contributed to this story.

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