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.
Continue reading #AZ Republicans Propose Irresponsible Flat Tax Budget for 3rd Time (video)
Governor Doug Ducey has called the Legislature into special session to address the seven fires raging across the state and their aftermath. This is obviously not Arizona’s worst fire season … yet … but this is the first special session to address fire. In fact, 2020 was our worst fire year on record. Why didn’t Ducey bring up fire suppression, mitigation and prevention during the budget process — or in his State of the State address? Arizona’s government doesn’t have to wait for homes, businesses, and hundreds — or thousands — of acres of farmland, ranchland, and desert to be destroyed before we act.
One bill will be heard in the special session, HB2001. If you want to read the one and a half page bill, it is on Request to Speak on the Legislature’s website. Pull down “55th Legislature, Special Session” to see it. There is not a lot of detail, beyond a list of dollar amounts and a general breakdown on how the proposed $100 million appropriation will be spent. For example …
Continue reading Budget Paused as #AZLeg Focuses on Fire (video)
The Grand Canyon Institute is a “centrist think tank” that provides a great service to our state by analyzing economic issues and producing independent reports. (You can read many of these reports at this link on their website.)
Below is June 8, 2021 press release from the Grand Canyon Institute. It incudes key findings from an research paper about educational funding and attainment and related declines in state revenue and productivity. You’ll note that decline in educational attainment among Arizona residents tracks with the state’s decline in school funding and the decline in state revenue. In 1970, Arizona had 18% more college graduates than the national average; by 2018, we had 9% fewer college graduates than the national average. When I moved to Arizona in 1981, I remember reading a quote in the newspaper from then Governor Bruce Babbit. He said the state’s economy was poised for greatness because Arizona had so many college graduates. Well, decades of budget cuts took care of that!
If you scroll all the way down at the bottom of the ASU graphic you’ll find the “money quote” in tiny type: “It is highly likely that the state’s relative declines in educational attainment contribute to declines in productivity and prosperity and have increased Arizonans enrollment in public assistance programs.”
The graphic also notes that if Arizona had not continued to cut taxes each year — thus maintaining the tax base — “the state general fund would have taken in 44% more in revenue.”
As I have said many times: the state of Arizona creates its own problems with short-sighted decisions that are rooted in ideology … not in data, science, or compassion for the people.
Continue reading Grand Canyon Inst – AZ Budget Priorities: Tax Cuts v. Productivity & Prosperity
Besides the flat tax, practically every tax giveaway that’s been defeated in the last five years is stuck into the Republican budget.
What’s that? You didn’t want more tax giveaways?
You wanted the state to Invest in Education and to pay teacher’s a fair wage? Forget about it. Arizona Republicans pride themselves in syphoning off public education funds and giving them to for-profit diploma mills, private schools and religious schools.
You thought it would be a good idea to restore the full $40 million in funding to the Housing Trust Fund to tackle the housing affordability and eviction problems in Arizona? Nope. Republicans are doing tax breaks for developers instead.
What about tackling Adverse Childhood Experiences, like food, housing and financial insecurity? No, Republicans like being worst in the nation for child wellbeing.
Continue reading #AZGOP Budget: $0 for Housing Trust Fund, Teacher Pay or Maternal & Child Health (video)
Governor Doug Ducey and Arizona Republicans are promoting a 2.5% flat tax on personal income and have included it in the budget package, currently under negotiation in the Arizona Legislature. They are also proposing that income over $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for couples be taxed at 1%. Usually excess profits are taxed at a higher rate, not at a lower rate, but, hey, this is Arizona.
You’ll remember that in 2020 the voters approved Prop 208 Invest in Education. With this citizens initiative, the voters created a 3.5% fee on personal income over $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for couples. The Republican tax plan will eliminate the Prop 208 “burden” on Arizona’s 1%. Who will pay the difference? You will.
Rather than requiring Arizona’s richest 30,000 residents pay their fair share of public education costs, the state is giving them a tax break, and the state is going to pay the bill for them. In the news, Rep. David Cook called the Flat Tax “unfair” because everyone will pay taxes, but the state will “backfill” the cost and help out “high-earners” (ie, Arizona’s richest residents).
Other states have tried flat taxes and they have broken the budget. It will not only hurt the states budget, but it will hurt the cities and towns also. The Republican budget is a nonstarter. Except for the 30,000 millionaires and billionaires who will benefit from Republican largesse, it is bad for Arizona.
The Flat Tax — along with all of the other tax breaks in the Republican budget — will fuel greater economic inequality in Arizona. Read the details of the Flat Tax plan here: Arizona budget plan would massively cut tax collections, create flat income tax rate.
Continue reading Republican Flat Tax Feeds Economic Inequality in #AZ (video)
Arizona House Democrats made a substitute motion to suspend the rules and bring HCR2010 Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to an immediate vote today (May 19, 2021). Republicans have been bringing us to the floor for one or two votes for several days in a row while they work their backroom budget deals, far from watchful eyes of voters, reporters and Democrats.
The Floor drama went a bit differently than the ERA vote has in past years. The newly elected Democratic women Legislators really wanted to propose the ERA. I agreed and said it would be better if someone else made the motion, this year since they’re on to me after four years of motions. Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham didn’t recognize Rep. Melody Hernandez, but a few minutes later, just as Majority Leader Ben Toma made the motion to adjourn, Grantham recognized mild mannered, former school teacher Rep. Judy Schwiebert, who rose to make a substitute motion to suspend the rules to bring HCR2010 to a vote. Republicans didn’t try to substitute her substitute motion. Consequently, we voted on the Schwiebert amendment, unlike other years. (Later Grantham said he goofed on the parliamentary procedures; Toma’s motion to adjourn should have taken precedent.)
This has been a tough year for women in the Legislature with multiple attacks on our rights, passage of the Draconian anti-abortion bill SB1457, and no additional funding for housing, maternal and child health, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). In this toxic, anti-woman environment, I think it is only fitting to propose ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
The vast majority of people living in poverty in Arizona and in the US are women and their children. Why are we purposefully shortchanging future generations by forcing working mothers to struggle to put food on the table and a roof over their heads?
Continue reading Arizona Republicans Vote Down ERA (video)