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State Capitol News

House takes step toward repealing state property tax

By Howard Fischer

Phoenix, AZ – A House panel took took the first steps Monday to permanently
repealing the state property tax.

The levy was suspended in 2006 when the state had a surplus. But
the tax returns later this year unless legislators act. The
problem is that lawmakers just cut $580 million in funding for
education, health and social programs to balance this year's
budget and face a potential $2.4 billion deficit next year.
Eliminating the tax means foregoing the $250 million it would
raise. Tucson teacher Elizabeth Slaine said further cuts to
education is the worst thing lawmakers could do.

"We have to have educated students who are ready to be the ones
to start those businesses. We don't want to have to have
businesses importing people from different states or different
countries to work in Arizona because we can't create a viable
workforce ourselves."

But Glenn Hameer, president of the state Chamber of Commerce and
Industry, said lawmakers need to consider what happens if they
reimpose the tax.

"If that tax comes back more Arizonans will lose their jobs, more
Arizonans that are struggling to stay in their homes will find it
more difficult to do so."

The Republicans on the committee agreed, voting along party lines
to repeal the levy. So far Gov. Jan Brewer has not taken a
position on whether the tax should go away.