In 2015, when I first ran for the Arizona Legislature I promised to be the the voice of the people, and that’s exactly what I did.
With my voice, my votes and my bills, I have stood up for the rights — and protected the pocket books — of everyday folks in the Arizona Legislature. I am the only representative who voted against every tax giveaway in four years. Giving your taxes away to corporations or special interest groups is a bipartisan issue that splits both the Republican and Democratic Parties.
As a Progressive Democrat and a Clean Elections candidate, my independent voting record shows that I vote with the people’s interests in mind — not the special interests.
Until Arizona can fully fund public education, public health, and other priorities that help the people, we shouldn’t be doling out corporate tax giveaways. That has been my stance since 2017. With the novel Coronavirus pandemic, stopping tax giveaways while the state grapples with the financial and public health fallout of the pandemic is imperative.
It’s time for a New Day in Arizona. It’s time to end welfare for the corporations and austerity for the people.
The grassroots backlash against tax breaks for developers spilled out into the streets of Tucson in the summer of 2020. The unions joined forces with neighbors and activists from the south and west side barrios to Midtown to stop the City of Tucson from expanding the Central Business Districts and giving away more tax breaks to developers during the pandemic. The people want a accountability and transparency in government tax abatement deals and — at least — a moratorium on tax giveaways while we are responding to the pandemic. They also want government to address their concerns about the gentrification that comes with Government Property Lease Excise Tax (GPLET) deals, Opportunity Zones, and other tax giveaways for developers.
Austerity-related policies and a decade of budget cuts have strangled segments of the Arizona economy, fostered the gig economy, and thrown many people into financial ruin. The COVID19 pandemic has just made a bad situation worse for many.
Background on Sustainable Economic Development
I believe that Arizona should fund the People’s to-do list of education, healthcare, infrastructure, and security — instead of the corporate wish list of privatization and deregulation. My platform is based upon a series of economic reforms which will grow Arizona’s economy, instead of starving it; raise revenue for infrastructure projects, jobs and education; and nurture a climate of respect that is good for local businesses, entrepreneurs, college students, and families.
Arizona’s tax system is out of balance. We rely far too much on Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT), which is basically sales tax by a different name. For decades, the go-to tax to pay for anything — particularly education — was to raise the TPT. (Unbeknownst to many of us, as we voted to raise TPT to pay for education, bipartisan “business friendly” Legislators were passing tax breaks and tax credits. There are more than 300 TPT tax exemptions on the books.
It’s time to look at all of Arizona’s billions of dollars in tax giveaways; determine which ones work and which don’t; eliminate the ones that are not used or that don’t meet performance goals; and set performance goals and sunset review dates for all of the tax giveaways that are left and any new ones. The people of Arizona deserve more accountability and transparency in state, county and local tax giveaway deals. We also deserve a return on our investment, not just a drain on the general fund, which is happening now.
The cornerstone of my reform package is the creation of a state public bank or a Southern Arizona regional public bank like the Bank of North Dakota. Long before the COVID19 pandemic, I believed that public banking was the route to sustainable economic development. In the COVID19 world, it makes even more sense to build the economy using low-cost or no-cost loans.
A state public bank would hold and manage the state’s funds and invest them for the public good, right here in Arizona. Public banks partner with local community banks to make loans or guarantee loans to small, local businesses, college students, entrepreneurs, and farmers. Currently, our state’s funds (your tax dollars) are held by a too-big-to-fail bank, gambled on Wall Street, and invested for the good of the bank’s shareholders.
We can fix pot holes, build roads, fund education, foster university-based research spin-off business, keep libraries, community centers and pools open, build homeless shelters, and much more– if we establish a public bank, take control of our money, and end corporate giveaways. It’s time for the Arizona Legislature to take a hard look at the $400 million in tax credits and the $13.7 billion in tax exemptions, tax subtractions, tax cuts and other giveaways. The Legislature should review all of the giveaways, determine which ones are effective, affordable, and necessary (like the tax exemptions on food and prescription), and eliminate the rest. All new tax giveaways should have a sunset date when the legislation is passed.
Both Governors Jan Brewer and Doug Ducey have followed the path of austerity, since the Wall Street crash of 2008-09. Since 2011, the Republicans have been offering largese to the 1% and austerity for the 99%. Instead of growing the economy by investing in infrastructure and education to make the state more competitive, they cut programs, laid off hundreds of workers, sold the state capitol buildings, and gave away taxpayer monies to out-of-state corporations. Austerity has starved the economy; this is why Arizona has not recovered from the Wall Street crash as quickly as other states.
Our tax dollars should be invested right here in Arizona for the public good– not invested on Wall Street for the good of too-big-to-fail banks…It’s time to foster home-grown Arizona business and innovation…
It is time to close the loopholes in our laws that give tax breaks to big corporations that are not headquartered in Arizona. Loopholes are a waste of taxpayer money. It’s time to foster home-grown Arizona business and innovation– instead of shipping tax dollars to Wall Street (in terms of high fees) or giving away millions in corporate tax cuts. Corporate tax cuts have not worked to grow jobs. In fact, each year the corporate tax cuts cost us billions! We have the money to educate our children and young adults. We have the money to maintain and build infrastructure. The Arizona Legislature is just misspending it.
A third part of my economic package focuses on avoiding unnecessary lawsuits– another big waste of our money. Republicans in the Arizona Legislature routinely pass laws that could be considered unconstitutional– like SB1070, abortion restrictions, education cuts, and voter suppression. These lawsuits are nothing more than political posturing, and they cost Arizona taxpayers millions of dollars. These funds could be used to benefit us– rather than used to defend right-wing ideology in court.
It’s time to stop wasting taxpayer money on Wall Street bank fees, tax cuts, sweetheart deals and loopholes for big corporations, tax credits for pet industries, and unnecessary lawsuits. The Arizona Legislature is really good at throwing our money away– $400 million per year in tax credits + $312 million per year in interest on our debt to Wall Street. I can suggest much better ways to spend $712 million dollars, than to give it away in corporate welfare.
We wouldn’t be worrying about how to pay for K-12 education, the university and community college systems, or road repairs if our state’s budget was grounded in sound economic policy– instead hog-tied by rigid ideology. It’s time to take back our state. Together we can build a stronger Arizona for future generations.
‘View from the Left Side’ Blog & YouTube Videos
Since 2018, I have been making daily video updates from my office at the Capital and regular videos during the interim, when I am in Tucson. As a result, I have an extensive collection of videos on Facebook and YouTube. Both collections are organized into playlists to facilitate learning more about specific topics like education, taxes, or public health.
For more information, here are more blog posts and YouTube links.
Here is a longer video on sustainable economic development from my 2016 campaign.