42 Ways to Improve Living Here

Posted on January 27, 2003 | Type: Op-Ed | Author: Tom Jenney
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Raising Arizona

In the 1980's TV series Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, galactic explorer Arthur Dent discovers that the ultimate answer to "life, the universe, and everything" is 42.

While the Goldwater Institute does not claim to have solved any of the deep mysteries of the cosmos, we do have "42 Ideas for a Free and Prosperous Arizona," that can be implemented this year to expand our freedom and economic prosperity. For example:

Send struggling kids to better schools. Idea No. 2 expands Arizona's tuition-scholarship tax credit to local businesses and offers scholarships only to needy children who qualify for the federal free- and reduced-lunch program. A modest business scholarship credit could generate more than 20,000 scholarships at an annual savings to taxpayers of $50 million.

Stop paying for sporting events before you buy a ticket. Idea No. 13 eliminates the Arizona Department of Racing and State Boxing Commission, and allows self-regulation in those sports akin to that found in football, baseball, basketball or hockey.

Support ideas you believe in. Idea No. 17 restores free elections and protects free speech by repealing the Clean Elections law. The Clean Elections system forces citizens to financially support candidates with whom they disagree, burdens candidates with arduous regulations, and has no measurable effect on legislators' voting patterns.

Take your commute from 0 to 60. Idea No. 19 converts HOV lanes to HOT (high occupancy/toll) lanes. We all know, and studies prove, that HOV carpool lanes are underutilized. Instead of letting that unused capacity go to waste, it should be "rented" to single occupant vehicles using low-tech annual permits or high-tech electronic pricing.

Breathe cleaner air. Idea No. 20 reduces air pollution by using emissions fees to target super-emitting vehicles the 20 percent of vehicles creating nearly 90 percent of pollution. All vehicles continue to pay a basic fee, but cars with higher-than-average emissions pay more, and those with lower-than-average emissions pay less.

Help a company hire you. Idea No. 28 suspends the unemployment insurance tax, which currently has a substantial surplus. By increasing the cost of hiring workers, the tax stunts business growth. A temporary suspension of the tax could create 116,000 jobs and generate sales and income tax revenue of $268 million.

Encourage businesses to build here. Idea No. 32 reforms Arizona's anti-growth property tax system. Ideally, policymakers should lower the assessment ratio for business property taxes to 10 percent (the level for residential property), or mandate equal assessment for all property classes for future levies.

Put your Legislature on a leash. Idea No. 40 forces the legislature to prioritize spending and vote down excesses of the alt-fuels variety. It models Arizona's spending limit after Colorado's highly effective Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which limits the state budget to a growth rate no greater than population plus inflation, and requires that surplus revenues be refunded to taxpayers.

We invite you to read more about our "42 Ideas for a Free and Prosperous Arizona" on our Web site.

Tom Jenney is Director of Outreach for the Goldwater Institute.

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