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Opposition to 1-cent sales tax initiative shows short list of contributors

Critics of the initiative to keep a 1-cent tax increase on the books promised a broad coalition to defeat it, but the “no” campaign’s fundraising haul came from only 13 groups and individuals, the latest campaign finance reports showed.

So far, nine people and four groups have contributed more than $500,000 to the opposition campaign, according to financial reports submitted to the Secretary of State.

In contrast, the “yes” campaign drew financial support from more than 100 groups and individuals.

But the campaign manager of No New Taxes, No on Prop 204 said the opposition only got organized late last month, and its financial report merely reflects the beginning.

“What we’ve got is a lot of money. What we’re looking (to do) is double that, triple that,” said Gretchen Conger, adding the campaign is pleased with its fundraising figures.

“The critics who say that there are only a few supporters only need to wait a short amount of time to see what else we’ve got coming,” she said.

The opposition, which is chaired by Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey, collected roughly $551,000 from Aug. 17 to Sept. 17.   It had about the same amount left in the bank at the end of the period.

Based on its post-primary report, the campaign took in roughly $25,850 from eight individuals, including $25,000 from Scottsdale businessman John Dawson.

Additionally, the campaign got $10,000 from Phoenix resident Karl Eller and $25,000 from the Arizona Chapter of NAIOP late this month.

The campaign also reported taking in $10 from “multiple contributors.”

But the bulk of its funds — $500,000 to be exact — came from the Americans for Responsible Leadership, a Phoenix-based independent expenditure group that’s not required to disclose its donors.

The campaign received the amount on Sept. 17.

That same day, the free-market advocacy group Arizona Free Enterprise Club also gave $25,000.

Meanwhile, the “yes” campaign received nearly $182,000 between Aug. 17 and Sept. 17.  About $7,000 of that came from some 100 individuals.

But like the opposition camp, only a small portion of the funds raised by Quality Education and Jobs, which is behind the 1-cent tax initiative, came from individuals.

By Sept. 17, the “yes” campaign has raised more than $1 million and spent almost all of it. It had less than $10,000 cash on hand by the end of post-primary reporting period.

More than $890,000 came from organizations such as contractors and education advocacy groups.

But funds continue to pour in.

On Sept. 21, the campaign took in another $85,000 from We Build Arizona, a coalition of construction and design-related groups.

Ann-Eve Pedersen, chairwoman of Quality Education and Jobs, said there’s a sharp contrast between the “yes” and “no” camps’ financial reports.

“That’s what (our) campaign finance filing shows — that this is really a broad coalition. It is a grassroots efforts led by just regular Arizonans who are very concerned about the direction that the state is headed on,” Pedersen said.

If approved by voters, the 1-penny initiative kicks in once the current 1-cent temporary tax increase expires next year, effectively maintaining a 6.6 percent sales tax base.

The permanent tax is estimated to generate about $1 billion annually.

Unlike the current temporary tax, whose revenues go to the general fund, lawmakers are precluded from sweeping money from the permanent tax.

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