It feels like deja vu all over again. This week a vanilla bill (HB2321) was used as a striker and was turned into a huge tax credit for big corporations. Corporations who have $2 billion or more to invest in building “qualified facilities” and hiring workers at a certain level are eligible for a total of $125 million in refundable tax credits per year.
What is wrong with that?
Arizona has done little to help people during the pandemic. We didn’t raise our stingy unemployment or our stingy TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), and we allowed evictions. And now the governor’s big priority is a massive tax credit scheme for Arizona’s largest corporations? Also, we learned in the tax review meeting in December 2019 that the qualified facilities tax credit had some reporting issues. In general, none of the tax giveaway deals that go through the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) are fully transparent to the public. That is why I proposed HB2255 to require the Commerce Authority annual report to be more complete — particularly in our return on investment on all of these tax giveaways. How many jobs have actually been created with billions of dollars in tax giveaways of different types. When I first ran for office in 2015, I ran on stopping the tax giveaways. At that time, we were giving away $400+ million dollars a year in tax credits. That figure is now over $600 million per year. This bill alone would add another $125 million per year on top of that, and it is not the only tax give away bill in the pipeline.
Governor Doug Ducey and Republican Legislators have a stated goal to neutralize the financial impact of Prop 208 on Arizona’s 1% by passing massive tax cuts. Tax credits for major corporations only sweeten the deal. I say this is deja vu all over again because it 2017, a massive tax giveaway package for Intel and other major corporations was rammed through the Legislature at the last minute on a striker.
You can watch the Floor debate here: https://www.azleg.gov/videoplayer/?eventID=2021031128
UPDATE: The Democrats struck a deal with Governor Doug Ducey and helped him pass HB2321 on March 22, 2021. The vote was 40-19 with 12 Democrats and seven Republicans voting “no”. The next day the governor, along with Democratic and Republican leadership and Intel bigwigs posed for a photo op after Intel announced a $20 billion expansion and the proposed hiring of 3000 “high paid tech” employees. Tax credits, here we come!