The Republican budget — with the financially irresponsible Flat Tax, several other tax giveaways and miscellaneous failed bills stuffed into it to buy votes — is on the agenda today, June 22, 2021.
Here we go again. This will be the third time that the House has debated versions of the largest tax overhaul in Arizona history. Is the third time the charm? Have the few Republican holdouts like Senators Paul Boyer and Kelly Townsend and Rep. David Cook now sold out to Governor Doug Ducey, ALEC and the Chamber of Commerce?￼ Have all the votes been bought to pass this expensive collection of bad ideas? Looks like it.
If you are on Twitter, you can see that Ducey is effusive about how amazing the Flat Tax will be for economic growth in Arizona and job creation. Don’t buy the lie. This tax giveaway plan is for Arizona’s 1%. They don’t want to pay the 3.5% Invest in Ed fee to support public education; Ducey and the Arizona Republican Party vowed to fix that inconvenient voter-initiated problem for the greedy. Approximately 30,000 Arizonans will benefit from the tax breaks and special interest pork in this budget.
Those 30,000 people will make bank on the Flat Tax. Governmental giveaways from the Republican Party will enable them to buy a new boat or an extra car every year thanks to their tax savings in this budget. The other 7.2 million Arizonans will be able to buy an extra car wash or a couple movie tickets per year with our tax break.
The last time the House debated this financially irresponsible Tax Omnibus bill (including the Flat Tax), Rep. Jeff Weninger stood up and said that Arizona has an economy that is “based on growth” and that to continue to thrive as a state, we “must continue to encourage people and businesses to move here.” He concluded that continuously cutting taxes is the best incentive Arizona has to foster more growth in the desert. Low taxes won’t be so attractive when the water runs out.
Are low taxes really the deciding factor for relocating to another state? Maybe … if you’re a millionaire who wants to shield his income but not for the rest of us. The rest of us want good schools for our children and grandchildren, good-paying jobs that provide us with economic freedom, affordable housing, drivable roads, and basic services. We are not getting any of that as long as we have a government controlled by big money politics and special interest groups.
Let’s take off those rose-colored glasses tinted by right-wing ideology and think realistically. The news media are reporting that 25-40% of Americans want to quit their jobs this year. They are ready to tell the gig economy and stingy employers to “take this job and shove it.” Workers want flexibility and respect. The media are also reporting that people are moving to states and cities where there is affordable housing.￼ (Tucson and Phoenix are in the top 10 US cities with least affordable housing when compared to income, and housing in Arizona is getting worse rapidly.)
What is Arizona offering people who want to relocate? Skyrocketing housing prices, low wages, job growth in the least sustainable city in the US (not the entire state), ￼crumbling infrastructure, starved schools, a doctor and nursing shortage, inadequate healthcare, stingy services, chronic poverty, growing homelessness, ever-increasing wealth gap, limited voting rights, draconian reproductive rights, and a #50 ranking in many key indicators of well-being like Adverse Childhood Experiences. (People outside of Maricopa County must realize that 90% of the economic incentives offered by Arizona Republicans and 90% of the jobs created in Arizona are in Metro Phoenix. The rest of the state can dry up and blow away, as far as Ducey and his cronies in the Legislature are concerned.)
On top of all that are the effects of climate change on our state. More fires, more intense fires, extreme heat, long-term drought, impending water shortages and rationing. Why are Republicans proposing to give away an ADDITIONAL $2 billion (annually) in tax cuts on top the billions in tax cuts and $600 million in tax credits already on the books, when we have these problems to solve? What happens when the next pandemic hits, or the next economic downturn happens, or the current housing bubble bursts? Austerity is what happens. (Majority Leader Ben Toma hinted that the reason the Flat Tax didn’t work in Kansas was because their Legislature didn’t have the guts to make the massive spending cuts that were necessary to balance the books.) Why are we even considering this failed economic path? Because we have a state government that is owned by special interest groups.￼
I moved to Arizona when I was 30 years old because I was looking for new opportunities, I was sick of shoveling snow, and I met someone who was ready to take this adventure with me. I often wonder if my 30-year-old self would choose Arizona today. For young women, Arizona’s horrific anti-abortion and anti-woman laws, the pervasive male/female pay gap, limited voting rights, and chronically low wages would be enough to encourage them to look elsewhere.