Tue, Aug. 20

McCain opposes governor's proposed tax increase

U.S. Sn. John McCain

U.S. Sn. John McCain

PHOENIX -- Facing a tough re-election campaign, Sen. John McCain said Monday he opposes the temporary tax hike being pushed by Gov. Jan Brewer.

And so does Sen. Jon Kyl, who is up for re-election two years from now.

In a joint prepared statement, the senators said they support the right of Arizona voters to decide if they want to temporarily hike the state sales tax by a penny, to 6.6 cents on every dollar of taxable items purchased.

"However, as Arizonans and Americans across our nation continue to face perilous economic times, we fundamentally oppose increasing taxes on small businesses and working families,' they said. About the only endorsement of Brewer's efforts to balance the budget from the pair that they "appreciate the tireless dedication by our state's elected officials to solve the budget problems.'

McCain is trying to hold off a challenge from within his own party. Former Congressman J.D. Hayworth, who took a position against the tax earlier this year, has been attempting to paint McCain as too liberal for the state.

Brewer, in a prepared statement, suggested the two senators were putting politics above principle.

"Doing the right thing often means doing the hard thing,' she said. "But our children and their future deserve no less.'

She pointed out the budget proposal before lawmakers for next year contains more than $1.1 billion in spending cuts that will have to occur no matter what the outcome of the sales tax vote.

"Cutting another $1 billion from our children s classrooms, or from law enforcement and first responders, is no solution,' she said.

David Leibowitz, spokesman for the pro-tax campaign, said McCain's stance is not surprising given his bid to hold off Hayworth's challenge. He compared it to a drive-by shooting where innocent people are hurt.

"We caught a bullet that kind of deflected off of another campaign,' Leibowitz said.

The move increasingly isolates Brewer from much of the rest of the Republican party on the tax issue.

Her three primary foes all oppose the tax: state Treasurer Dean Martin, former Board of Regents President John Munger and Northern Arizona businessman Owen Mills.

In fact, Brewer's backing of the tax also has the two senators distancing themselves even from her bid for a full term of her own as governor. Neither is weighing in to endorse her, even though the governor herself came out in support of McCain.