On Sunday, March 1, 2020, I was the keynote speaker at a South Tucson community forum on tax giveaways (specifically the GPLETs), gentrification, housing, and poverty. The following is my speech.
Thank you all for coming, and I especially want to thank Brian Flagg of Casa Maria for organizing this.
You may know me as a Legislator now, but old friends in the audience also know me as a political blogger with Blog for Arizona.
Gentrification, Rio Nuevo, incentivizing development with tax giveaways, corporate welfare… these are topics that I have been researching and writing about for more than 10 years.
During that 10-year time frame, I have also been advocating for public banking as a way to self-fund infrastructure projects, tackle student debt and spur economic development through low-interest loans—not giveaways. Public banking is based upon a public private partnership between a state bank and local community banks and small local businesses—like those represented by Local First.
The major problem with public banking is that you have to trust the government to make the system work for everyone—not just for the corporations and the wealthy, as out current system works. After almost four years in the Legislature, I trust the Arizona government far less than I did before. The belly of the beast is not a pretty site.
So… where does that leave us?
As a blogger, I theorized that layers of tax breaks—beyond Rio Nuevo– were fueling the development in the city core.
Do you remember when Molly McKasson lost the mayoral race to Bob Walkup in 1999? She was successfully painted as an old hippie chick who wasn’t ready to lead. Walkup was the successful Raytheon exec who would run Tucson like a business.
McKasson was quoted in the newspaper as saying, “It’s too bad that Tucson has decided to put all of its eggs in the developers’ basket.”
She was spot on!
Twenty years later, downtown is gleaming with new buildings, and everyone in power points to the new buildings as a sign of success downtown.
But at what cost?
Continue reading Tax Giveaways, Gentrification, & Housing in Tucson (video)