Under Arizona’s constitution, any increase in the salary of state lawmakers must be approved by voters. In the past 50 years, legislators and the AZ Commission on Salaries have sent a pay raise to the ballot 18 times. All but two of them have been shot down by the voters. The most recent referral, in 2014, to raise legislative salaries to $35,000 was rejected 68%-32%.
The last thing the people of Arizona need right now is a sales tax increase. But leave it to state lawmakers to try to push one through by proposing a referral to put a tax hike on the ballot to fund fire districts.
The bill is SCR1049. And if it makes it onto the ballot—and gets approved by voters—it would create a 20-year statewide 0.1% sales tax to fund Arizona’s 144 fire districts. It would also distribute the funds proportionally to the fire district’s equalized property valuation, but not to exceed 3% to any one fire district.
To the average voter, this may not sound like a big deal. After all, firefighters provide an important service that keep people and their property safe.
It is no secret that the Club is critical of special interest tax credit programs that distort our tax code and pick winners and losers in the market. Though a few of these tax credits have been enacted by the legislature over the years, there is one program on the books that has grown into the billions and has successfully evaded any real scrutiny: the Research and Development tax credit program.
The Research and Development tax credit program piggybacks off the federal program and operates under the premise that it will increase the amount of investment corporations make in Arizona on research and development. The program is very generous, allowing corporations to claim a 24% credit on the first $2.5M in qualifying expenses and an additional 15% up and above the $2.5M. If a corporation effectively eliminates their tax liability, they are allowed to carry forward the excess credits for up to 10 years. For businesses with fewer than 150 employees, the pot is even sweeter…
“Punish the rich” tax proposals never seem to go out of style—at least for the Democrats. In the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, it was all the rage for Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. But after they both failed in their White House bids, they decided to double down on their wealth tax with an ill-conceived proposal on Capitol Hill in early 2021.
So far nothing has come of that. But enter President Biden.
At the end of March, Biden unveiled his Billionaire Minimum Income Tax proposal, and it’s every bit the disaster that you would imagine it to be.
For years now, we’ve heard the same old talking points from the left when it comes to our state’s schools. It always goes a little something like this:
Education is underfunded in Arizona…
Teachers aren’t paid enough…
We need to raise taxes to pay our teachers more…
Do these lines sound familiar? They should. Anytime a new proposition is rolled out to voters, teachers’ unions and other liberals push this same narrative. We heard it when they campaigned for Prop 208 a couple years ago. And despite the fact that the Arizona Supreme Court struck down Prop 208 because Arizona is already funding schools at historic levels, we continue to hear it from Red4Ed and others as they target the state’s $1.8 billion tax cuts.
That’s what makes the latest news out of Mesa Public Schools (MPS) even more outrageous.