I was surprised to find Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge on my desk on the Floor of the Arizona House on Monday. First of all, state employees like the Pages should not be distributing political propaganda to members in the House Chambers on state time.
That aside, Norquist’s pledge is completely unrealistic in a state that gives away as much tax revenue as possible in the form of tax advantages for big corporations, wealthy Arizonans, and private religious schools. Norquist’s tax pledge states that members pledge to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.” The problem is that Arizona has far too many lawmakers — on both sides of the aisle — who consistently vote to give your taxes away.
When they go overboard with tax breaks and are caught short during a financial disaster — like the Wall Street Crash of 2008-09 — the state is forced to cut vital programs or raise taxes to make up the difference. Arizona has been cutting taxes for decades; this resulted in massive across the board cuts under Governor Jan Brewer and Senate President Russell Pearce.
Let’s not go there again. Let’s learn from past mistakes, shall we?
Norquist is a tax hawk but not an editor — so I edited his pledge to make it more realistic for a tax giveaway state like Arizona. The REVISED Taxpayer Protection Pledge now reads: “I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to give away your taxes because that increases taxes.”
Except for a few special interest groups, no one is suggesting raising taxes at the state level. The state *currently* has plenty of money. We should be investing in Arizona’s future — instead of giving away your hard-earned money in tax breaks for people and corporations that don’t need it. Unfortunately, many Legislators — primarily Republicans but not 100% Rs — are discussing multiple schemes to give away billions of dollars — like the Water Authority. Are we investing in schools, roads, healthcare and affordable housing? NOPE. That would make too much sense.
Norquist’s pledge is nothing more than a campaign tactic promoted by a Political Action Committee. How much money will pledge signatories get from Norquist’s PAC? His pledge only encourages weak-kneed politicians to play to the applause lines, rather than working on meaningful solutions to the state’s chronic problems like poverty, low wages, homelessness, underfunded public education, and stingy healthcare benefits.
Some programs that were slashed under Brewer and Pearce more than 10 years ago have never been restored — like public education, the universities and community colleges, and benefits for the poor (who are primarily Moms and their children).
It’s time to stop throwing money away in tax breaks. It’s time to start investing in Arizona’s future.