How Should Arizona Pay for Education? Tax the Rich? Or Tax the Poor? (video)

Red for Ed

“How can Arizona increase education funding?” has been an ongoing question since the Tea Party started hollowing out public education and doling out tax breaks ten years ago.

This week the Legislature is hearing a few education funding bills. The Senate Education Committee is hearing two bills related to education funding on Tuesday, January 28: SCR1002 (Brophy McGee) and SB1059 (S. Allen).

SCR1002 is a ballot referral to extend the Prop 301 “temporary” sales tax for education that was passed by voters during the Great Recession, make it permanent, and raise the sales tax from 0.6 cents on a dollar to 1 cent (on top of what you are paying in sales tax now).

SB1059 dictates how the new money from the ballot initiative should he spent. (There’s a lot of detail in there. Check it out.)

Obviously, we need more money for public education at all levels. My question about SCR1002 is: who should be paying more in taxes? Sales tax (AKA Transaction Privilege tax or TPT) is a tax on the poor. Continuously raising sales tax at multiple levels of government is also not “business friendly” because it artificially raises prices to consumers. When some Arizona cities and towns are bumping up against a 10% sales tax, is it smart to continue to raise sales tax to fund state government? Some cities and towns have rent taxes and sales taxes on food. Those really double down on the poor. With a 10% sales tax rate, people would pay $10 in sales tax on $100 of food. Sales tax is one of the more volatile income streams for our state because it depends on consumer purchasing. When consumers are strapped for cash, their purchases go down, and the states revenue goes down.

When considering a sales tax on the people, we should remember that while the Arizona Legislature is convincing us to raises taxes on ourselves to pay for something we want (like roads or schools), they are simultaneously proposing sales tax breaks for the corporations and income tax breaks for the rich. This is all happening right now– look at the proposed Microsoft sales tax exemption and the four tax giveaway bills that are in Ways and Means on Wednesday. HB2293 is a sales tax break for utilities, and HB2355, HB2356 and HB2358 are all income tax breaks. (HB2355 and HB2356 are primarily income tax breaks for the rich.)

So, should we raise taxes on ourselves when the Republicans in the Legislature are doing a bait and switch?

I prefer the Invest In Ed 2.0 Citizens Initiative over sales tax as a way to fund education. Under Republican control, the Legislature has passed one tax break after another to benefit corporations and wealthy Arizonans (AKA people who have the $$$ to hire lobbyists)– while starving the schools and eliminating other services that help the people.

It’s time for *everyone* to pay their fair share in taxes to build a stronger Arizona for future generations. We shouldn’t be balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and the school children. Sales tax is not the way.

If you are on Request to Speak (RTS), all of these bills are on agendas this week. It’s time to comment. 😉



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