Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Destruction of Arizona

Conservatives in Arizona are down right jumping with joy that they have iron fist control of Arizona state government.  Not one Democrat holds an elected statewide office and the Republicans control the legislature with a veto proof majority in each house.  Our state is in major financial trouble and instead of tackling the problem like grown ups, they plan to carry out the nightmare wishes of Grover Norquist and the late Milton Friedman.

The state has a crippling projected budget deficit of over $1 billion for fiscal year 2012 and yet we are still dealing with the disaster that is the fiscal year 2011 budget.  Instead of making the tough political choice of reforming the state's extremely regressive sales tax to include services such as massages and spa treatments, instead of eliminating the tax credit for "donations" to private and parochial schools and instead of allowing the various race tracks to have casinos, the Republicans are proposing even more tax cuts.

For the last eight years, Arizona has seen tax cut, after tax cut, after tax cut.  Yet some seem surprised that almost all of our interstate rest areas are closed, that many of our state parks are closed and that people on AHCCCS (Arizona's version of Medicaid) can't get transplants because there isn't any money.  Mr. Norquist must be having an orgasm due to Arizona's conservatives implementation of his "starve the beast" plan.

Milton Friedman, on the other hand, must beaming with joy in his very special place in hell at the prospect of Arizona becoming even more "business friendly", which of our course is just code for "government subsidized at the expense of the populace".  That's right, Governor Brewer has proposed that the corporate tax rate be dropped to 4% over the next couple of years.  Its bad enough that the Republicans to "balance" the current budget "sold off" some of the state's buildings in an elaborate lease back scheme that will cost taxpayers twice what we got for them.  (For a short term budget "fix" of about $750 million, we will be paying back $1.4 billion over the next 20 years.)  Yet, the Republicans want to become even more friendly for businesses.

Education and social programs for the poor and working poor will take major hits again this year.  The state's three universities will see their tax payer funding almost dry up as will the various community colleges.  Yet businesses that rely on the largess of tax payers already will get even more favorable terms.  This is despicable.

I call on the Republicans to do the following (I am not holding my breath that they will):
  1. Cut the state sales tax to 4% (currently the state sales tax is at 6.6% due to a 1 cent temporary sales tax increase approved by voters) and make all purchases of goods and services within the state subject to the tax, with no exemptions.
  2. Allow the various gaming race tracks to have casinos and tax them at a rate of 45%.  Yes, I know that this will trigger the "poison pill" in the compact with the various Indian casinos, but I think it will be better for our state.
  3. Revert corporate and personal income tax rates to 2004 levels.
  4. Eliminate the tax credit for "donations" to private and parochial schools.  We shouldn't be subsidizing private and parochial education with tax payer dollars.
Arizona is an incredible state, but it doesn't need to become a version of Pinochet's Chile.  Stop the madness that is the Destruction of Arizona.

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