Officials disqualify transportation ballot measure

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PHOENIX -- Election officials say Arizona voters won't get the opportunity in November to vote on a proposed ballot measure that sought to boost the state sales tax by a penny for three decades to pay for a $42 billion transportation plan.

Group to appeal decision

The Arizona Secretary of State's office concluded that supporters of the measure fell nearly 15,000 petition signatures short of the almost 154,000 needed to make it to the ballot. Forty percent of the signatures handed in were declared invalid.

"Unfortunately people go out and get hired and they're not diligent in the kinds of signatures they're getting and they're not qualifying the people and they're not making sure that the information is correct, they're just looking for the money that they're getting paid and this is what we end up with," said Secretary of State Jan Brewer.

Supporters of the measure said it would have raised money for projects that would have reduced traffic congestion and pollution and funded highway construction projects and rail, transit and other transportation work.

Critics said it would have steered much of the revenue from such an increase to non-highway projects.

Time Coalition, the group trying to get the measure on the ballot, said it plans to appeal the secretary of state's decision within a couple of days.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)