RTS Alert HB2391 & HB2255: Transparency in Government. Yes! (video)

World View Enterprises
Let’s talk government transparency.
Lucky for me my committees, so far, have not been totally nuts with radical right wing bills like some of the other committees this year. Yes, we have heard some tax giveaways in both Commerce and Ways and Means but not the extreme ideological social engineering and voter suppression bills that are in other committees.
The Feb.3 Ways and Means Committee agenda included only one bill HB2391, sponsored by Rep. Steve Kaiser, one of the freshmen Republicans. This is a property tax and county government transparency bill from ATRA (Arizona Tax Research Association). Sean McCarthy from ATRA said that all of the counties report their property taxes in different ways. (Not surprising.) HB2391 says that the Department of Revenue (DOR) should design a “worksheet” for the counties to use worksheet and make the data available. I don’t think this goes far enough. I know many Tucsonans who are digging through PDFs and memos on governmental websites to try to determine how their taxes are being spent.
I agree with the push for governmental transparency and standardization in reporting, but I would take this a couple step further. I think these worksheets should be available on the county websites and on the DOR website in an easy-to-find location, and the data should be downloadable in Excel. This allows people — including data nerds, economists, grad students, and interested citizens — to look at the data and analyze it themselves. This is true transparency and accountability, in my opinion.
Many governmental websites are data rich and information poor. There are many numbers but very little context or explanation. For example, my bill HB 2255 is a transparency and accountability bill regarding the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA). I have done a lot of digging around in PDFs on the ACA website to determine the effectiveness of the business incentives that the ACA has been doling out.
When I had my communication and public relations business, writing and designing annual reports was my niche. In fact, most of the little plexiglass statues in my office at the capital are awards that I won for annual reports or other corporate communication documents or programs.
With this background, I am particularly critical of the ACA annual reports that are on their website. First of all, I had to search for “annual report” in order to even find the annual reports. There are lots of cute number graphics, but eventually I found a large PDF which was the actual annual report. Buried in the middle was the number of jobs that are created by the different incentive packages. There was a list of businesses that received big incentive packages (including Caterpillar and Worldview in Tucson) but no indication where these businesses are located. Are most of the business incentives spent in Maricopa County? Probably but it’s hard to tell. What is the long view of these incentives? How many of these businesses are still in business? Many of these businesses got their money years ago, but only one figure is given for job creation. Is that the current number of jobs? Is that the total number of jobs that were created over X number of years? Again you can’t tell from the annual report. Often in a corporate annual report there is historic data like a five-year review or a 10-year review to show growth or change over time. The 10 year review often includes analysis and a continued story from previous annual reports. I never found anything like that on the ACA website.

 

I want transparency in the corporate tax giveaways, how about you?

I am all for more governmental transparency. I think the Arizona Commerce Authority should be included in this push for more transparency and more accountability to the taxpayers of Arizona. If you are on RTS, please give both HB2391 and HB2255 a thumbs up.

[Photo: I took the above photo at a 2017 Chamber of Commerce event at the World View Enterprises headquarters. World View is one of the businesses that received money from the Arizona Commerce Authority and got a new building from Pima County. How much taxpayer money did World View get, and how many jobs did that incentive actually bring to Pima County? This is one of my many questions.]

 

 

RTS Alert HB2113: Seriously? Tax Cuts for the Rich? (video)

Rep. Pam Powers Hannley

On Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, in the committee of the whole, also known as COW, we debated HB 2113. This bill allows people to reduce their taxable income through charitable donations because it indexes the percent allowable to inflation. The current allowable amount is 25% of charitable donations (if you itemize your deductions, which almost no one does since the standard deduction was doubled.) At the current 25% rate, this tax cut, passed in 2019, took $24 million out of the general fund. This bill allows automatic annual inflation-based increases, with no sunset date, no cap, little accountability and “no guard rails”, as Rep. Mitzi Epstein pointed out in debate.

HB2113 is an income tax break for the richest Arizonans. You’ll remember that the Trump Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated many income tax deductions including the charitable deduction and at the same time doubled the standard deduction. This simplification of the tax code is something people have been clamoring for for years. Doubling the standard deduction is the primary reason why most Americans no longer itemize their taxes. To fund business tax cuts in TCJA, many individual tax deductions were eliminated and folded into the standard deduction.

In TCJA, the charitable tax deduction moratorium lasts for only five years. Epstein and I tried to add a sunset date to the Arizona charitable tax credit deduction to align it with the TCJA, but that amendment was defeated. With the 2019 bill and this 2021 bill, Arizona Republicans are not only cementing the charitable tax deduction for the wealthy, they are making it ever increasing by indexing it to inflation and not allowing it to ever decrease, regardless of the economy. That is a Sweetheart Deal!

Continue reading RTS Alert HB2113: Seriously? Tax Cuts for the Rich? (video)

#AZLeg Should Focus on COVID, Not Tax Breaks

Republicans thanks for the poverty

This is an RTS Alert for HB2244, 2253, and 2252 and HCR2010 …

This is the third week of the Arizona Legislature. It is also the second full week of committees. I am the ranking member on the Commerce Committee and a member of Ways and Means. (I am not on the Health Committee this session.) My updates for the next two years are going to be pretty much about money, incentives, taxes, and tax giveaways.

So far, none of the bills heard in either of my committees help the people of Arizona or local small businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic. The Legislature needs to focus on the pandemic — instead of marching in lock step to pass 100s of bad (or at least unnecessary) bills from 2020 that COVID killed.

A recent poll revealed that Arizonans’ biggest concern is *surviving the pandemic*. Arizonans’ priority is to get through the pandemic alive … with their family members. They also don’t want to be broke and homeless at the end of this. The poll also revealed that their biggest fear was that government would do nothing, and they want to make sure corporations pay their fair share. Arizona had widespread poverty, housing insecurity, food insecurity, and access to care issues long before the pandemic. I suggest my bills to fix systemic problems in Arizona would also help people weather the pandemic storm.

For example, HB2244 would fully fund the housing trust fund which has not been adequately funded for ~10 years; HB2253 would increase Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) to the full five years allowed by the federal government; HB2252 would increase Arizona’s TANF from 36% of the 1992 poverty level to 40% of the 2020 poverty level; and HCR2010 would ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (giving women equal pay for equal work). I also have multiple bills to increase the healthcare workforce and increase access to care particularly in maternal and child health.

I have attended multiple financial forecasting and review meetings in the past year. Thanks to all of that online purchasing, Arizona is raking in the sales tax. Some people at the state level are giddy with the amount of sales tax revenue we have brought in during the pandemic. They are also very excited about the generosity from the federal government. Unfortunately, the governor and others in the Republican Party are using these unexpected funds as an excuse to cut taxes. Why don’t we use these funds to build financial stability, increase access to care and help the people of Arizona stay safe and healthy during the pandemic — instead of giving our tax dollars away to corporations and Arizona’s 1%?

Please be vigilant. There are many people up here who are determined to keep the inequities of our system.

Please give HB2253, HB2252, HB2244, and HCR2010 a thumbs up on RTS. Also, give tax breaks (HB2108 and HB2113) and additional, unnecessary governmental bureaucracy and fees (HB2161) a thumbs down.

Priorities for a New Day in Arizona (video)

Rep. Pam Powers Hannley

In January 2021, when the Arizona Legislature goes back into session, we will be faced with major decisions in the wake of the COVID19 pandemic.

If Democrats take control of one or both chambers in the Legislature, it will be a New Day in Arizona, after 50 years of Republican control. 

My goals for the future are to improve the public health and financial state of Arizona, as we rebuild from COVID19 or learn to live with it.

The post-COVID19 world will be different from “the before times” and hopefully better. In my opinion, the past will never return exactly as it was, and we have to plan for that. Travel, tourism, consumerism, healthcare, entertainment, K-12 schools, higher education, work life, prisons … many changes will come in these areas and others, whether we want substantive change or not.

Our job is to create the world we want. Here are some of my priorities for 2021 and beyond.

Continue reading Priorities for a New Day in Arizona (video)

Labor Day 2020: Protests against Corporate Welfare Replace Labor Picnic (video)

Labor Day Protest in Tucson

Labor Day 2020 in Tucson was … different.

Instead of hosting a giant picnic at Reid Park with games, food, and networking, the Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF) joined other groups for seven days of protests against corporate tax giveaways, gentrification, and expansion of Tucson’s Central Business District this Labor Day week.

Barrio Neighborhood Coalition activists, PALF members, Mi Familia Vota, Jobs with Justice, college students, neighbors, Catholic workers, and other progressives turned out to protest the upcoming Tucson Mayor and Council decision on Sept. 9 regarding expansion of the Central Business District (CBD) and expansion of GPLET tax giveaways in the CBD.

Tax Giveaway Protest
Ward 3 GPLET protest on Sept. 3.

The first protest was at the Ward 3 office in LD9. This office is located in the Opportunity Zone that conveniently runs along the path of destruction of the Grant Road Widening Project, which has been hanging in limbo for ~30 years just like the Broadway Blvd. Widening Project. In the days of increased online commuting, why are we knocking down all of the businesses on two major arteries, forcing businesses to move or close, and then incentivizing new businesses to go there? This is the ultimate in “picking winners and losers.” How is this friendly to local businesses when government forces many of them to go out of business or forces them to hang in limbo for decades while decisions are made in endless meetings, many of which are behind closed doors?

The Labor Day protest was at the Ward 6 office also in Midtown but in LD10. Approximately, 40 people came to that protest, including former City Councilwoman and former mayoral candidate Molly McKasson.  She lost the mayoral race to Republican and former Raytheon executive Bob Walkup. Years ago in the Arizona Daily Star, Molly said, “It’s too bad Tucson decided to put all of its eggs in the developers’ basket.” Ten years or more later, that statement is prophetic.

Continue reading Labor Day 2020: Protests against Corporate Welfare Replace Labor Picnic (video)

Big Money Politics Targets the ‘Tucson Progressive’ in 2020 Election (video)

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

Corporate America, was it something I said?

Are you putting tens of thousands of dollars in big money donations behind my pro Trump, pro deregulation, pro tax giveaway, pro privatized insurance, pro Open Up Arizona (and masks are a personal choice) Republican opponent because I told the people of Arizona the truth about tax giveaways? That we were poised to giveaway $1 billion in taxes to corporations, special interest groups and wealthy Arizonans in 2020, after giving them $400 million in 2019?

Or was it because I said (repeatedly) that we should fund the People’s To-Do List — Education, Infrastructure, Healthcare and Safety and Security — instead of the Corporate Wish List?

Or maybe you didn’t like my video on raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for public education, instead of continuing to raise sales taxes on the poor to fund the state government?

Or maybe you didn’t like it when I exposed the GPLET tax shell game or the $13 billion in state tax giveaways?

Or was it my speeches against voter suppression and against attacks on Clean Elections, the Citizen’s Initiative, Independent Redistricting and Medical Marijuana?

Or was it because I opposed the sub-minimum wage of $7.25/hour, fake pregnancy clinics, dangerous deregulation, and Reefer Madness anti-marijuana legalization efforts?

Or was it when I said that Arizona chose a short-term economic boost over common sense, opened up the economy too soon, and gave our state the worst COVID19 record in the world ?

Continue reading Big Money Politics Targets the ‘Tucson Progressive’ in 2020 Election (video)