02/04 - Bill raises approval for tax initiatives - East Valley Tribune: News

02/04 - Bill raises approval for tax initiatives

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Posted: Wednesday, February 4, 2004 8:47 am | Updated: 4:38 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

The state House Appropriations Committee voted Tuesday to make it harder for voters to raise taxes.

The measure, passed on a 9-7 vote, would amend the state constitution to require that all initiatives seeking to increase state taxes have a two-thirds voter approval. Ballot measures currently require a simple majority.

Rep. Andy Biggs, RGilbert, said the problem is not so much that voters are raising taxes. He said voters approve mandates that remain even if the funding source does not cover the costs.

For example, he said, voters approved Proposition 204 four years ago to make more people eligible for state-paid health insurance. The cost was supposed to be borne by higher tobacco taxes.

Biggs said enrollment growth has outstripped revenue. He said lawmakers, who cannot alter voter-approved measures, must take cash from other programs.

Biggs acknowledged there is another measure set to be on the November ballot designed to deal with that problem. That proposal would let legislators trim new programs if dedicated revenue does not keep pace.

The new legislation, HCR2016, also would require that same two-thirds approval rate for any other plan that increases state revenue, such as eliminating a tax exemption for any industry or group.

Biggs said the higher hurdle is warranted because of the generally low turnout. He said that permits a minority of potential voters to impose new taxes on everyone.

House Minority Leader John Loredo, D-Phoenix, countered that the same is true of everything else on the ballot. The measure now goes to the full House.

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