PHOENIX -- An initiative to put more than 570,000 acres of state trust land off limits to development does not have enough valid signatures to make the ballot, Secretary of State Jan Brewer concluded today.
Brewer said backers turned in nearly 370,000 signatures.
But she said more than 33,000 of these were rejected by her office. And a random check of what remained by county recorders ultimately concluded that another 125,580 of these should be removed either did not belong to registered voters or were rejected for other reasons.
The result, said Brewer, is that the measure came up nearly 20,000 signatures short of the 230,047 required to put the measure before voters in November.
Backers of Proposition 103 are expected to file suit to get a judge to restore at least some of the signatures.
Arizona got about 10 million acres of land from the federal government when it became a state in 1912. The state constitution requires that it be either leased or sold for the highest value, with most of the funds earmarked for public education.
Proposition 103 would amend the constitution to exempt specific parcels scattered throughout the state from that requirement.
Backers, including Gov. Janet Napolitano, said it would not hurt education proceeds because creating open space in some areas would increase the value of adjacent trust lands when they eventually are sold.