Arizona Sales Tax Increase Proposal Goes to State Supreme Court

August 26, 2008

The Arizona Supreme Court is expected to rule today on a 1 percent statewide sales tax increase proposal that proponents are seeking to put on the November ballot.

Proponents need 153,365 petition signatures to put the measure, which would use the increased sales tax revenue for transportation purposes, before voters. Supporters turned in over 260,000, but the clerk struck 21,000 of them because the circulators did not have their signatures notarized. A random check of the remainder had a 42 percent invalidity rate, “for a [sic] reasons ranging from incorrect addresses to wrong dates with the signatures.” On August 21, a judge rejected a lawsuit to put the measure on the ballot anyway, stating that proponents had waited too long to file it.

Also in Arizona, the Kingman Clean City Commission has deferred studying a proposal for a 10-cent tax on plastic bags. Unlike some places, at least they admit that it’s a tax. In a past blog post, we singled out these bag taxes as an example of a Baptist-Bootlegger alliance, where moralizers and special interests link up to pass bad laws:

So who were the “bootleggers”—that is, the vested economic interests who tacitly collude with the “Baptists” to push for the tax? Interestingly it appears to have been large grocery retailers, who benefited from a large increase in sales of branded “re-usable” grocery bags, something that likely gave them a competitive edge over smaller retailers unable to afford such complimentary items[…]

Unfortunately, it’s unclear that the plastic bag tax led to any net environmental gains. For one, plastic bag production is highly energy efficient, so it’s not obvious that the reduction in littering outweighs the boost in carbon-based pollution required to manufacture and ship the heavier and more energy-intensive paper and re-usable carriers that replaced them.

More on Arizona here.


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