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Elections 2012

Penny Sales Tax Initiative Has New Opposition

A ballot measure designed largely to raise money for education has picked up new opposition -- and for a very unusual reason.

Proposition 204 would create a permanent one-cent surcharge on the state sales tax designed to kick in June 1st, the day after the temporary levy approved by voters three years ago expires. The issue surrounds a provision to create a family stability and self-sufficiency fund, fueled with 10 percent of the first $1 billion raised. The initiative says it would provide "basic needs.'' But Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy said her fear is what that could include.

"A governor allocates up to $100 million to meet basic needs that that lead to family stability," Herrod said. "And it says other community and social services. That can mean virtually anything in the realm of community and social services. There is no limitation on that as far as who gets the money."

Herrod's specific concern is that Planned Parenthood could qualify. And while funding could not pay for elective abortions, Herrod contends any funds the organization gets for other services frees up cash for abortions. But initiative organizer Ann-Eve Pedersen said Herrod is off base.

This is intended and the language is clear, that the language is for human services,"Pedersen responded. "And it specifically talks about providing for basic needs. It doesn't talk about providing for health care. And when it defines the basic needs it says, 'preventing hunger, homelessness, family and domestic violence and providing child care."

Pedersen said Herrod is doing the bidding of Republican lawmakers who are opposed to the tax, a charge Herrod denies.

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