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Brewer, allies make final plea for Prop. 100

Surrounded by allies from her Yes on 100 coalition, Gov. Jan Brewer made a final plea for voters to approve Proposition 100 in the May 18 special election.

Brewer made her well-worn pitch that Prop. 100 is necessary to protect funding for education, public safety and health and human services on May 17 at Madison #1 Middle School. The governor said the temporary one-cent sales tax increase may depress consumer spending, as opponents contend, but said that would pale in comparison to the negative economic impacts the state will suffer if Prop. 100 fails.

“If that happens that’s unfortunate, and certainly that might happen,” Brewer said. “I believe that if we don’t get Proposition 100 passed, it’s going to put a huge chill on Arizona for the next eight to 10 years.”

The governor showed off the diverse coalition that formed to promote Prop. 100. A group of firefighters stood behind her, as did representatives from the Arizona Education Association, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and other groups that have backed the ballot measure.

But the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an early supporter of the sales tax measure, was absent from the press conference. And the Arizona Education Association (AEA), the largest teachers union in the state, made it clear that the group’s support for Prop. 100 doesn’t extend to Brewer’s candidacy.

AEA President John Wright, whose teachers union rarely backs Republicans such as Brewer, said it was “quite unusual” and “unprecedented times” that brought the AEA into the coalition. But he said most K-12 schools will see their budgets cut next year even if Prop. 100 passes, and said the schools could lose tens of thousands of jobs if it doesn’t.

“This initiative vote has nothing to do with our political process for candidates,” Wright said. “The AEA is trying to help Gov. Brewer pass the sales tax because we have the same interest. That doesn’t mean we always have the same interest or have always had the same interest. And I think she’d be the first to admit that herself.”

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce put $50,000 into the Yes on 100 campaign, but the group was a big supporter of a package of tax cuts for businesses that Brewer helped nix. Chamber spokesman Garrick Taylor said President Glenn Hamer did not attend because he had another commitment.

But the chamber is also still hoping to get Brewer’s support for business property and corporate income tax cuts, Taylor said.

“We’d like to bring her around to that way of thinking,” he said.

Brewer, meanwhile, reiterated a previous statement that she would not support business tax cuts while asking voters to pay more in sales taxes. But she said she would still like see a “jobs bill” that would include tax incentives and targeted cuts.

“I doubt it will happen this summer. Right now we’re focused on some other pressing issues,” Brewer said. “But we have time. We have plenty of time.”

If Prop. 100 fails, Brewer said the Legislature would have to come back to the Capitol for a special session to pass enabling legislation for the contingency budget plan it passed in March. That plan, which goes into effect if Prop. 100 doesn’t pass, cuts $428 from K-12 education, $114 million from Medicaid and $63 million from the Department of Corrections, among other cuts.

Brewer disputed opponents’ statements that the cuts were made deeper than needed in order to drum up support for the tax hike.

“None of this is scare tactics. This is the truth,” she said.

Tim Hill, president of the Professional Firefighters of Arizona, said the state has lost about 300 firefighters through attrition since the economic crisis began, and said local governments could end up taking the hit if Prop. 100 doesn’t pass.

“Our real concern if Prop. 100 fails is that trickle-down effect from state government to local government will indeed cause more budget losses for individual communities,” Hill said.

Yes on 100 will hold an election night results watching event on May 18 at Madison #1 Middle School, the same location as the press conference. On May 11, Attorney General Terry Goddard, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor, held a press event at the same school to announce his support for Prop. 100.

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