State taxpayers should not be bailing out a broken Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) plan. But that’s exactly what lawmakers are doing in the recently enacted Arizona state budget. That’s right. Your elected leaders just passed a budget that includes hundreds of millions of dollars for road projects—all being paid for with your tax dollars. (You can see for yourself on pages 9-11 right here.)
At first glance, that probably doesn’t seem like a big deal. After all, it makes sense for tax dollars to go toward necessary road projects. But the problem is that these road projects are supposed to be paid for by the Maricopa County Prop 400 regional plan that was assembled by MAG…
Over the last few decades, no force on earth has been able to halt the explosive growth of U.S. federal debt.
At the conclusion of WWII, fiscal conservatives were aghast that our national debt had ballooned to $259 billion. By the end of the Vietnam War, it stood at $533 billion and, despite urgent warnings, was over $5.6 trillion by the end of the century. Today it stands at $30 trillion after the Biden administration’s horrific spending spree conducted on the pretext of limiting the fallout from COVID.
The reason is pretty simple. Spending other peoples’ money is politically popular. Taxes are not and budget cutting is risky.
We have developed a political culture in which the reelection of incumbents is the highest of all priorities. It is considered perfectly acceptable to just kick the can down the road and let future generations sort out the consequences of our selfishness.
So, for example, when Bush 43 attempted to propose desperately needed reforms for Medicare and Medicaid, he was mercilessly demagogued for “pushing granny over the cliff.” His Republican allies deserted him, and the effort collapsed. Nobody has tried any such thing since, although debt reduction is mathematically impossible without entitlement reform.
It doesn’t take a genius to see where this is going. Interest rates are rising while serious geopolitical threats are forming. We’re backing ourselves into a position of severe internal and external weakness at just the wrong time.
Yet the political class remains unmoved. Some pay lip service to fiscal discipline, but the spending goes on unabated. Student loans, accommodations for illegal immigrants, and missiles for Ukraine on the condition that no Russians will be harmed by their use are all embraced as if unlimited funds are available.
Fortunately, our forefathers anticipated that the government they created would attempt to exceed its limited constitutional powers. They gave the states a powerful tool to defend themselves—the right to amend the Constitution on their own.
Article V of the Constitution mandates that Congress “shall” call a constitutional convention when requested to do so by 2/3 of the states and that any amendments proposed, when ratified by 3/4 of the states, become “Part of this Constitution.”
The founders would be disappointed to know that the states have never exercised this extraordinary privilege. Thomas Jefferson, knowing how these things go, thought a convention of the states would be needed every generation or so to reign in federal government encroachments.
Instead, the states have stood meekly by as the federal government has far surpassed them in power and prestige to the point where calling a convention of the states is seen as an act of rebellion against authority.
But nothing else has worked to restrain federal spending. Millions of dollars have been spent to elect self-described fiscal conservatives, yet it’s beyond obvious that Congress will never reform itself.
Of course, the convention-of-the-states idea has its enemies. Opposition from the spenders on the Left is understandable because they don’t want to end their gravy train. But it is the alliance between the Left and conservative stalwarts like the Eagle Forum and John Birch Society which have effectively stalled progress.
Their arguments are inspired by fear. Their principal objection is the perceived threat of a “runaway convention,” the fear that in a constitutional convention, there would be nothing to stop special interest groups from pushing their agendas from banning abortion to banning guns.
Hogwash. Even if the state legislatures fail to limit the authority of Convention delegates, 38 states must ratify any proposed amendments. That historically has been a very strong protection.
Right-wing opposition seems mostly concerned that the convention could inflict lasting damage to the sanctity of our Constitution. The opposite is the truth.
Nothing could honor and strengthen the Constitution more than using its own provisions to enable us to address our most urgent modern threat. The other option is the Left’s practice of declaring a “living” Constitution that says whatever judges say it does.
It’s time for us to flex our democratic muscles and fulfill our destiny as free, optimistic, and proud Americans. Our republic may be in the balance.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.
If Tax Day were held in early November instead of April 15th, I doubt Republicans would lose a close election again.
The financial squeeze of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) filing deadline always feels personal. But it especially hurts this year. On top of President Joe Biden’s proposal to hike taxes on everything from capital gains to married couples, families across the country are suffering from another hidden tax: historic inflation.
The nationwide Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 7.9 percent as of last month. In Arizona, where the average price of gas now exceeds $4.60 per gallon, the Phoenix area is suffering from a CPI increase closer to 11 percent. Wherever you look, workers’ paychecks just aren’t going as far as they used to.
Florida and Texas have it right. People deserve to keep the money they earn. That’s why, if I’m elected as Arizona’s next governor, I plan to eliminate our state’s income tax once and for all.
Republicans need to stay on offense. Democrats in the Grand Canyon State dream of turning us into California. They have been aggressive in their efforts to do so, from pushing a 78 percent hike on small businesses at the state level to ramping up tax and fee increases at the local level.
Conservatives cannot allow ourselves to be pacified by simply stopping these bad ideas. We should feel equally comfortable moving in the opposite direction. And so far, thanks to smart policymaking by Governor Doug Ducey and our state legislators, we have been successful in doing so.
Over the past few years, Arizona has indexed the state income tax rates to inflation; conformed the state income tax to the Internal Revenue Code after passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act; exempted military retirement from the state income tax; and passed into law a 2.5 percent flat tax representing the single largest tax cut in our state’s 110-year history.
Along the way, Democrats repeatedly warned that further reductions in the income tax would plunge us into turmoil and bankrupt government services. In reality, our state budget is in better shape than ever, with $5.27 billion in projected surplus revenue this year and plenty of room to return money to taxpayers.
Our economy is booming, too. We experienced the third-fastest economic recovery in the United States coming out of the pandemic, and we are expected to add more than 720,000 jobs over the next ten years.
These are the fruits of freedom. It is well past time to go further.
By eliminating the state income tax, we will create a business environment so welcoming to new investment that we’ll be beating businesses and entrepreneurs off with a stick. These job creators won’t pay any income tax. But they will pay property taxes, sales taxes, and more—and our tax revenues, along with our economy, will continue to grow hand-in-hand.
The bottom line is that hardworking families deserve to keep the money they earn, especially in inflationary times like these when the American Dream feels so far out of reach.
Zeroing out this tax—and ringing in Arizona’s final Tax Day—is not just the smart thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. I am the only candidate for governor who has endorsed it. And, as our next governor, it’s exactly what we will do.
Matt Salmon, a former U.S. representative and co-founder of the Freedom Caucus, is a Republican candidate for governor of Arizona.
Three of the people most involved in negotiating Arizona’s landmark Fiscal Year 2022 budget will take part in a Budget Roadshow next week across the state.
Sen. David Gowan (R-LD14), Rep. Regina Cobb (R-LD5), and Matt Gress of the Governor’s Office are headlining the free events in Casa Grande, Sierra Vista, and Tucson to help citizens better understand the budget process, budget history, and look ahead to the next session which starts in January 2022.
They will also discuss notable -and some not so notable- budget accomplishments from the recent legislative session and take part in a Q&A session.
The Thursday, Oct. 28 event at Casa Grande City Hall begins at 10 a.m. with a meet and greet, followed by the presentation at 10:30. It will be followed that afternoon at the Cochise College – Sierra Vista Campus at 3:30 p.m.
Then on Friday, Oct. 29, the trio will take their presentation to the Pima Community College – Downtown Campus Auto Center at 10:30 a.m. followed by a meet and greet at 11:30.
The three participants are well-suited for the event, as Gowan is the Senate Appropriations Chairman, Cobb is the House Appropriations Chairwoman, and Gress heads up Gov. Doug Ducey’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting.
The meet and greets are being hosted by several Chambers of Commerce, including Benson / San Pedro, Greater Casa Grande, Green Valley / Sahuarita, Greater Vail Area, Marana, Oro Valley, and Sierra Vista Area.
More information about the Budget Roadshow, including how to request a presentation in a specific community, is available by calling Cobb’s office at (602) 926-3126 or Gowan’s office at (602) 926-5154.
Chairman Larry E. Penley of the Arizona Board of Regents has high praise for the investment made by Gov. Doug Ducey and the State Legislature in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget passed last week which recognizes the role the state’s three public universities play in Arizona’s economic wellness.
“This spending plan invests in Arizona’s competitiveness by supporting public university instruction, research and development, especially in the key growth sectors of health care, the sciences, biomedicine and engineering,” Penley recently said. “State funding also will assist ongoing efforts by Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona to meet the needs of a growing number of Arizona students.”
The 12 members of the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) serve as the governing board for Arizona’s three public universities – Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Arizona. The board is tasked with providing policy guidance for nearly every aspect of the university system, including capital development plans, strategic plans, and legal affairs.
The regents also set policy related to financial and human resource programs; academic and student affairs; public outreach; and the all-important student tuition, fees, and financial aid programs.
The main Higher Education budget bill, SB1825, involved more than just funding appropriations. Among other things, it requires the UA cooperative extension office to establish an Agricultural Workforce Development Program to provide incentives to food-producing agricultural organizations to hire apprentices.
“As Arizona emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, focus shifts toward ensuring our state is ready for the challenges of a New Economy increasingly built on the innovation, adaptability and skills of our workforce,” Penley said.
Another SB1825 provision allows the three state universities to offer pro bono assistance to claimants in the general stream adjudication of water rights if the claimants are small landowners and not represented by counsel.
The legislation also calls for ABOR to administer and implement a Promise Program to provide financial assistance to students in a baccalaureate degree who qualify for in-state student status, graduated from an Arizona high school with a qualifying grade point average, and meet eligibility criteria for the Federal Pell Grant.
“With the state’s initial investment in the board’s Arizona Promise Program scholarship, qualifying low-income Arizona students will have their tuition and fees paid in full to attend the Arizona public university of their choice,” Penley said. “The value of a university degree has never been higher, and this program represents our promise that cost won’t be a barrier to any deserving Arizona student.”
ABOR will take on yet another new responsibility thanks to the budget bill. On Jan. 1, 2022, the statutory duties of the Commission for Postsecondary Education and the e Arizona Teacher Student Loan Program will be transferred to ABOR.
State law designates the governor and the superintendent of public instruction -currently Kathy Hoffman- as ex-officio ABOR members along with two student regents who serve two-year terms. The other regents serve eight-year terms after being appointed by a governor and confirmed by a majority of the 30-member state senate.
In addition to Penley, the current regents are Fred DuVal, Kathryn Hackett King, Lyndel Manson, Cecilia Mata, Bill Ridenour, Ron Shoopman, and Karrin Taylor Robson. ASU student Nikhil Dave is serving as a student regent until 2022; the second student regent seat is currently vacant, according to the ABOR website.
Next up for the ABOR is a Sept. 9 meeting of the Finance, Capital and Resources Committee as well as the Academic Affairs and Educational Attainment Committee.