Sales Tax Vote Has Schools Nervous

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It seems as if every government agency, especially those involved with education, is hanging out on a limb and wondering if it will be sawed off behind them as the May 18 sales tax vote approaches.

From local school districts, to towns, to state government agencies and the colleges — everyone is nervous about the future and whether or not voters will approve the proposed 1 cent sales tax on the May ballot.

The bulk of the money from the sales tax is supposed to go to schools and law enforcement. The Arizona Education Network Web site says two-thirds of the revenue from the additional sales tax will go toward K-12 activities, with the remaining one-third going to health and human services and law enforcement. Passage of Proposition 100 on May 18 will not eliminate the need for more state budget cuts, as the deficit is still larger than projected revenue, some observers say.

What passage does mean is that every government agency will probably be spared any additional massive budget cuts, but the threat remains.

The state’s colleges could face additional cuts of $107 million and community colleges could lose another $15 million if the sales tax proposal fails, says the AEN Web site, which is about 12 percent of their current projected budget. That would take the colleges and universities down to 2006 funding levels.

Board of Regents member Anne Mariucci says “The impact of the state sales-tax measure failing would be completely catastrophic. We’d have to consider all options. But, I’ll tell you, it’s hard to entertain additional requests for tuition increases until we see what cuts and efficiencies can be achieved at the university level.”

Schools across the state could face $428 million in additional budget cuts. Proponents of the passage of Prop. 100 say the $1 billion in revenue for each of the next three years is crucial unless the residents want to face severe cuts in education, public safety and health care.

Opponents say the additional tax is a job killer and could cost an additional 15,000 jobs in a state already hard hit by unemployment. The National Federation of Independent Business says the 18 percent tax hike will hurt small businesses, which are the main drivers of jobs, and reduce consumer confidence and spending.

As the ballots arrive in mailboxes, Payson schools will hold an information session Wednesday on the local reductions if May’s statewide sales tax election fails.

State lawmakers have already approved the education funding reductions that would take place.

The presentation will begin at 4 p.m. in the Payson High School auditorium.

This is a good opportunity to hear firsthand what Payson school district officials fear will happen should voters disapprove of the sales tax proposal.

We encourage residents to attend the meeting, ask questions and hear firsthand from school officials what the future might hold.

Car show adds to Rim Country

Green Valley Park once again played host to more chrome, steel and Armor All covered classic cars than all of Rim Country combined. We applaud the members of the Rim Country Classic Auto Club, who organized another successful Beeline Cruise-In Saturday that not only brought smiles to visitors but will also benefit local charities.

Every year, the car club donates all profits from the show to one or two nonprofit groups. For the past several years, this has meant an extra $20,000 or more.

In these economic times, a hearty donation like this goes a long way, especially when charities are spread thin with fewer donations and an increased number of “customers.”

While the final numbers on this year’s show are still being tallied, we recognize the hard work of Cruise-In organizers. They managed to roundup owners of some 224 sedans, coupes, convertibles, trucks, roadsters and even a few Model Ts, who proudly displayed their majestic beasts. Owners gladly popped open trunks, hoods and doors so all could marvel at the hundreds of hours of work it took to fix up these beauties.

Some owners left photo books next to their cars to show before and after shots. One classic was rescued from a jalopy state and refurbished with a monster engine, tan-colored interior, state-of-the-art audio system and a perfect candy apply red paint.

More than 1,500 spectators took in the sights and sounds at the show, interacting with owners and finding out the stories behind the cars. It was a great event.

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