After 10 months of debate on the issue, Attorney General Terry Goddard, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the governor’s race, said he doesn’t know whether he’ll vote for the temporary one-cent sales tax increase that will go before voters on May 18.
Goddard said he hadn’t made up his mind yet on the tax vote Feb. 5 while attending Arizona StandDown 2010, an event held to benefit homeless veterans. The comments came one day after the House followed the Senate in approving a special election and a ballot measure on the proposed tax hike. Goddard said he is trying to find out what other options may exist for closing the state’s massive budget shortfalls, which are estimated to be $1.4 billion for the current fiscal year and $3.3 billion in 2011.
“That’s been one that’s sort of been crammed down our throats, isn’t it?” Goddard asked. “(The Democrats who voted for it) did so with real concern that is probably the worst possible option.”
The attorney general filed his paperwork in January to officially become a candidate for governor, but said he will not release his plan for balancing the budget until he makes his official candidacy announcement in March. “We’ll do that in due course,” he said.
The issue could put Goddard in a tight spot. The ballot measure passed on a bipartisan vote, with support and opposition spread out pretty evenly among both Republicans and Democrats, so no party consensus on the issue existed on either side of the aisle. Furthermore, publicly supporting the tax hike would force Goddard to give a de facto endorsement of its biggest advocate, Gov. Jan Brewer, whom Goddard may face in the November election.
Though both chambers of the Legislature approved the special election, Goddard said there were questions as to whether the special election could be held on May 18 because neither chamber could must the two-thirds vote needed to give the bills an emergency clause, which would allow them to take effect immediately.
– By Jeremy Duda