Arizona State Representatives Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott Valley), a refugee from communist Vietnam, and House Majority Leader Ben Toma (R-Peoria), whose family emigrated from communist Romania, announced their intent to sponsor a bill establishing anti-communist civics education for K-12 students. The legislation would require social studies curriculum to include a contrast of this country’s founding principles with conflicting political ideologies. In order to accomplish this inclusion, the State Board of Education (SBE) would work with experts in civics and government structures.
Nguyen plans to introduce the bill in the upcoming legislative session. In a press release, Nguyen cited his loss and continued hardship due to communism as the inspiration behind the bill. The legislator fled from the Communist Party of Vietnam at 12 years old in April 1975 – a week before the Fall of Saigon. Ngyen reiterated the importance of knowing history in order to not repeat it.
“This is very personal to me, as someone who has survived a communist war,” said Nguyen. “I have lost very close family members to the evil ideology of communism. I know what it feels to lose a nation to communism and that’s why I do not want my fellow Arizonans to ever go through what I have. It is up to us to ensure that future generations have an honest understanding of what communism truly is and the horrors it has produced for mankind. Otherwise, it is likely to be repeated. The victims and survivors of communism deserve to have their voice heard.”
Toma emigrated to America when he was nine years old in the 1980s. In an interview with Scena9, a Romanian publication, Toma offered an anecdote about life under the regime of the communist dictator at the time, Nicolae Ceaușescu. Ceaușescu and his wife were executed by firing squad on Christmas Day in 1989, the culmination of the Romanian Revolution that ended the 42-year-old communist regime.
“Toma […] still remembers some of the absurdities that people would need to do for those in power. He claims that, before Ceaușescu visited their town, Șăulia, people painted the grass green and hung fake apples in the trees, even if it wasn’t summer yet, so Ceaușescu would feel satisfied by his country’s prosperity,” reported Scena9.
In the press release, Toma concurred with Nguyen’s insistence on the importance of a civics education informing students about the truth of communism.
“I believe in America and its cornerstone principles of liberty, freedom, and democracy,” said Toma. “I also believe that we have a solemn obligation to prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders. This legislation strengthens a student’s foundation in civic literacy and understanding of what makes our nation exceptional, and how it stands in stark contrast to dangerous ideologies, such as communism and totalitarianism, that would have our founding principles erased from history.”
The legislators’ announcement comes after months of Democratic colleagues insisting that current hot button ideologies like white nationalism posed a bigger threat than communism. During a floor session in June, Nguyen fired back at those same claims made by State Representative Daniel Hernandez (D-Tucson). Hernandez implied that subjects like white nationalism and the January 6 incident demanded greater attention in classrooms than communism.
“You know, I just recently heard somebody say that […] communism is not the enemy, but white nationalism [is]. So, let me tell you something about white nationalism. White nationalism didn’t drown 250,000 Vietnamese in the South China sea. The communists did,” stated Nguyen. “White nationalism did not execute 86,000 South Vietnamese at the Fall of Saigon. Communists did. White nationalism did not put me here. Communism did. So don’t take it lightly. Don’t mock me. Don’t mock what I go through in life. It’s rough. I lost most of my cousins, my family members due to communism. If we don’t stand up to teach communism to our children, we’ll lose this country. So sir, don’t mock me.”
The K-12 budget bill originally included a provision requiring schools to teach how political ideologies like communism conflicted with American principles of freedom and democracy. Courts voided that bill, HB 2898, for not abiding by the state’s single subject rule for legislation.
Arizona’s income tax – with a top rate of 8% – is not competitive. Reducing and eventually eliminating the state income tax would be a huge win for all Arizonans.
Individual taxpayers and families would be able to keep more of their hard-earned paychecks. Small businesses would be able to invest more in their employees. And Arizona would be much more attractive to businesses and investment, bringing new jobs and opportunities to the state.
Over the last decade, millions of people and jobs have been fleeing from high-tax states to states that do not impose income taxes. The ability to work remotely will only amplify this trend.
Unfortunately, Arizona’s current income tax puts it on the wrong side of this equation.
Arizona is a high tax state and slipping further
Under the status quo, Arizona’s income tax – with a top rate of 8% – is not competitive. Eight states – including Arizona’s neighbor Nevada and nearby Texas – do not impose individual income taxes of any kind. Thirty-two more states – count Arizona’s neighbors Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, among them – have top rates that are lower than Arizona’s.
Even worse for Arizona, the list of states that do not impose income taxes will continue to grow. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, and Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin are among several key lawmakers that are working to eliminate income taxes in their states.
Unless Arizona begins reducing and phasing out its income tax, it will continue to fall behind.
The good news is Arizona’s leaders refuse to sit back and allow it to fail. Gov. Doug Ducey, Sen. J.D. Mesnard, President Pro Tem Vince Leach, Majority Leader Ben Toma and many others are eager to provide pro-growth income tax relief.
A flat tax is a much better way to go
They are working on a tax plan that would streamline Arizona’s current four-bracket system (five brackets when accounting for the Proposition 208 “surcharge” of 3.5% that will be imposed on certain income, resulting in top rate of 8%) down to a flat tax of 2.5%.
That would be lower than its current bottom rate of 2.59% (with adjustments being made to ensure that even with the Proposition 208 “surcharge,” which would effectively create two brackets, the top rate would not be higher than 4.5%).
Flat taxes protect all taxpayers from tax increases. Under a progressive income tax, taxpayers are divided into small groups, allowing politicians to rob them one by one. Raising a flat tax, on the other hand, is much more difficult because politicians are forced to answer to every single income tax filer.
Making this news even better, there is a serious effort to include a full phase-out of the income tax (excluding the Proposition 208 “surcharge”) over time through the use of revenue triggers, a responsible way for states to cut taxes without getting ahead of their ski tips.
It could bring new jobs, higher wages
If such a provision were included, Arizona would be a model for other states to copy.
In addition to reducing income tax rates, the Republican tax plan would provide even more income tax relief by quadrupling the child tax credit and by coupling the standard deduction to inflation.
The Republican tax plan would be a huge victory for every single Arizonan. Reducing and, ideally, eliminating the income tax would attract businesses looking to expand, investors looking for growing economies with hospitable tax climates and families looking for greater prosperity.
This would bring new jobs and opportunities to current Arizona residents.
Income tax relief would also allow small businesses, which overwhelmingly pay their income taxes on the personal side of the code, to invest in higher wages, and would allow the hardworking people of Arizona to keep more of their paychecks.
Arizona’s future will be brighter if it begins reducing and eliminating the state income tax.
Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform, a nonprofit taxpayer advocacy organization that was founded at the request of President Ronald Reagan. Reach him at email@example.com.
the Arizona House Government and Elections Committee passed HCR 2015 for an amendment proposal convention that would help put term limits on Congress. The resolution is sponsored by Rep. Ben Toma representing District 22, part of the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The resolution passed the house committee with a vote of 7-6. Thirty-five Arizona state lawmakers in the 2021 legislature have taken the term limits pledge (see listing below) promising to support an Article V convention for term limits on Congress.
The state senate counterpart resolution, SCR 1025, is sponsored by Sen. Kelly Townsend. Both resolutions are being guided through the legislature by U.S. Term Limits (USTL), a national, nonprofit advocating for term limits at all levels of government.
“This has been a great week for Arizona passing the USTL resolutions in committees in both chambers,” says USTL’s Arizona State Director, Jim Olivi. On Monday, Sen. Townsend’s bill passed its hearing in the Senate Government committee. “When 85% of people approve of anything, you know it’s a bipartisan proposal,” said Olivi.
According to a 2020 poll by McLaughlin & Associates, congressional term limits is the most popular and bipartisan issue in Arizona, with 85 percent support statewide. That includes backing from 87 percent of Republicans, 85 percent of independents and 83 percent of Democratic voters.
Both resolutions are expected to be voted on in their respective chambers as early as next week.