Did Arizonans Get A Tax Cut And Schools Get A Funding Cut?

By Jose Borrajero

As one of the longest legislative sessions in Arizona history comes to a close, we come to the customary conclusion that no one is totally happy with the results. That is to be expected. No individual or group of individuals should expect to get all they want.

However, this session fell considerably short of conservative goals in several areas. Most prominent among these were election integrity and balance of power. Balloting irregularities and dictatorial executives are anathema to good governance.

Still, we did not do so badly considering the current composition of our legislature. Hopefully, that composition may be improved during the next election cycle.

Two areas in which we did better than many had expected were the budget and tax reform. But these are precisely the two areas in which we are getting tremendous pushback from organizations that support unionism, socialism, and radicalism (please excuse the redundancy).

One major radical group is Save Our Schools Arizona. They are already calling for a citizen’s initiative to undermine the hard-earned progress we made in the areas of budgeting and taxation.

In fact, Save Our Schools AZ, in their June 28 Legislative Report made the following outrageous, irresponsible, and patently false statements:

“The Bad: House lawmakers passed a K-12 budget bill packed with myriad attacks on schools and teachers.” And…

“The Brutally Awful: Both the House and Senate passed identical bills pushing Arizona’s largest tax cut in history into law”.

Let us evaluate the second claim first. It should be pointed out that whenever these radical organizations bitch and moan about “tax cuts” they are bitching and moaning about “tax cuts for the rich”. They don’t bitch and moan about the portion of the tax relief that helps low- and middle-class taxpayers. With that in mind let us look at the overall taxation of the rich, to determine whether this is a giveaway to the wealthiest among us, or simply a much-needed tax relief to prevent job providers from fleeing Arizona.

Marginal income tax rate paid by the wealthiest Arizonans:

Before Prop 208 4.5%
After Prop 208 8.0% (4.5% + 3.5%)
After Tax Relief 6.0% (2.5% + 3.5%)

Can someone, with a straight face, explain how going from a 4.5% tax rate to a 6.0% tax rate constitute a “tax cut”? Tax relief would be a much better name for it.

It should also be noted that there is nothing in the omnibus tax relief tax relief bill (SB1828), or in any of the budget reconciliation bills to remotely suggest that the Education industry will not get their 3.5%. This brings us to addressing the other claim made by the Save Our Schools cabal.

The only way that a thinking person can agree with the SOS’s claim that the legislature gave us a “K-12 budget bill packed with myriad attacks on schools and teachers” is to conclude that a whopping 24% increase in funding constitutes “myriad attacks”. Let us look at some numbers taken from the JLBC’s and the Governor’s websites:

FISCAL YEAR TOTAL BUDGET EDUCATION BUDGET
2021 $11.5 BILLION $6.7 BILLION ($5.0 B K-12 + $1.7 B HIGHER ED)
2022 $12.8 BILLION $8.2 BILLION ($6.2 b K-12 + $2.0 B HIGHER ED)

While the overall budget went up by a relatively modest 11%, the education budget increased by 22%, and the K-12 portion increased by 24%.

Under this new budget, the portion allocated to education is 64%, leaving only 36% for healthcare, law enforcement, border security, street repairs, infrastructure, etc.

The SOS and other groups that claim to support students should be praising our legislature and thanking them for their generosity, instead of plotting to undermine their work via mob rule.