Although Democrats make up 48% of the Arizona Legislature and represent more than 50% of the state’s population, Arizona Republicans crafted the next fiscal year’s ~$13 billion budget — complete with a fiscally dangerous Flat Tax and $2 billion in tax cuts for wealthy cronies — behind closed doors with a only a handful of their members.
It’s no wonder that it is June 24, 2021, and we have no budget. They have been twisting their members’ arms and cutting deals to stuff everyone’s failed legislation into the budget to buy votes. This is no way to run a government.
It makes me wonder how much money and what special interest groups are behind the Republican plans to destroy the state’s economy, the public school system, and our mail-in voting system — while cementing power for the powerful — all in one Legislative session.
The Republican budget completely ignores the needs of the people of Arizona and the desires of the voters. Voters said they wanted the rich to pay their fair share in taxes to support public education when they voted overwhelmingly for Prop 208 Invest in Ed in 2020. They also said overwhelmingly that they did not want expansion of empowerment scholarships (ESAs AKA private school vouchers) when they voted against Prop 305 in 2018.
Continue reading Roots of Arizona Libertarianism Can Be Found in 1950s Virginia (video)
Arizona House Democrats denied quorum on June 22, stalling the Republican budget and the Flat Tax for third time.
June 22 was day 163 of the Arizona Legislature. The Legislature’s target end date is 100 days. Republicans have been twisting (breaking?) arms for two months to pass their extreme ideological budget. Every version of their budget has made it worse because they are inserting failed bills into the budget to buy votes from the bill sponsors.
Every version of this budget and all of the amendments were negotiated amongst a small group of Republicans behind closed doors. If the Republicans want to pass this budget with only Republican votes, they are going to have to have all of their members in the House to make quorum. The inconvenient truth is that some of them are out of state.
You can read these bills on request to speak and make comments on the azleg website. We are adjourned until 10 AM on Thursday, June 25.
Continue reading #AZHouse Dems Deny Quorum, Stalling Budget Temporarily (video)
Arizona Republicans have been twisting arms for weeks to find 31 of their members in the House and 16 in the Senate to pass their budget that includes $12.5 billion in tax giveaways and a flat tax. (You didn’t expect the Republicans to actually “Invest in Ed,” did you?)
While the Republican budget is languishing, let’s talk alternatives. Governor Doug Ducey and the Republicans like to brag about how great the Arizona economy is, how much money the state has, and their plans to give money back to the “taxpayers”.
There are several major problems with the Republican narrative:
- The “taxpayers” who benefit the most from the Republican budget are Arizona’s wealthiest. (You’ll remember Prop 208 required wealthy Arizonans to pay a fee to fund public education. Ever since that passed, Ducey and his cronies in the Legislature have proposed multiple methods to eliminate the impact of Prop 208 on the ~30,000 people who would otherwise have to pay it. )
- The gap between rich and poor in Arizona has been widening, and their budget — particularly the $12.5 billion in tax breaks — would make that worse.
- The state is currently flush with funds thanks to federal relief during the pandemic and online retail purchases by people who remained employed during the pandemic.
- It’s NOT time to give our tax dollars to the rich and ignore the needs of the people of Arizona. The Democratic budget restores or increases funding for education, healthcare, housing, food and security; these priorities are left out of the Republican budget to make way for Welfare for the Wealthy.
Each year Legislative Democrats assemble their budget to show the people of Arizona that there are alternatives. Below are budget recommendations from Arizona’s Democratic Legislators. The full document can be found here. The JLBC overview of the Republican budget is here.
Continue reading #AZ Democratic Budget Shows Difference in Priorities, Values & Spending (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
Two of the 11 bills that make up the Republican budget for Arizona — HB2899 and HB2900 — were defeated 30-30 in the Arizona House on Monday, June 7.
These bills include the disastrous Flat Tax proposal and the income tax cap at 4.5%. Together, they are an attack on the will of the voters because they reduce the impact of Prop 208 (Invest in Ed) on Arizona’s wealthiest residents. Arizona’s 1% (about 30,000 people) would have been the biggest beneficiaries of the Republican’s $1.5 billion in tax cuts in their budget. This state has over 7 million people. Why are the Republicans working for 30,000 people? These bills — and the other nine that make up their budget deal — deserve to die.
I am so thankful for Rep. David Cook who voted “no” on both bills along with all 29 Democrats.￼ The flat tax would have really hurt cities and towns across Arizona. They would have lost more than $200 million in shared revenue if the Flat Tax had passed. It would have forced them to cut services or raise sales taxes dramatically.￼ Rep. Steve Kaiser stood up and gave a short but impassioned speech about how glorious it would be to live in a state like Texas or Nevada with no income tax. He failed to add how high the sales taxes and miscellaneous fees are in states that have low personal and/or corporate income taxes. (Somebody pays. Roads and schools are not free.)
Continue reading Two #AZGOP Budget Bills Defeated in #AZHouse (video)
The House Appropriations Committee was debating the budget as I drove to the Capitol on Tuesday morning. The Republicans started the budget process by introducing the 11 bills that make up the coming fiscal year’s budget on Monday, May 24. Except for leaked documents and rumors, this was the first time the Democrats and the public were able to see the whole proposal (available here).
Rumors have been swirling around the Capitol for weeks about the massive tax cut — biggest ever in Arizona history — and the flat tax proposal that the Republicans were planning. The rumor mill also said they didn’t have the votes to pass it. Republicans need ALL of their members to get in line on the budget, since the flat tax and other shortcomings make their budget a non-starter with Democrats, who make up 48% of the Arizona Legislature.
Continue reading #AZGOP Budget Has Flat Tax & Tax Breaks But Lacks Votes (video)