Mayors from around the state rallied recently at the Capitol to protest the Legislature's proposed 10 percent income tax cut. According to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, mayors could no longer ensure the safety of residents without the expected state-shared revenues.
What a joke. Estimates are that payments from income tax revenues will increase by 50 percent by 2009, even with the tax rate reductions. Only in government circles would that be called a cut.
Our cities are spending freely these days on everything. They're spreading money around to favored non-profits and to industry sectors they deem desirable, from car dealers to biotech.
State-shared revenue is a bad idea. The notion that cities should be given a share of the state income tax revenues, in lieu of assessing their own income taxes, seemed reasonable when voters approved the system in 1972. However, revenue sharing breaks the link between city government and taxpayers. The mayors can spend without being responsible for levying taxes. It's too good to be true!
While the mayors think this is a dandy system, the big losers are the taxpayers. Cities should appeal directly to taxpayers for funding of legitimate needs. The close association between the taxers and the taxpayers promotes accountability.
Tom Patterson is a former state senator and is chairman of the Goldwater Institute.
- KPNX Channel 12: "Sunday Square Off"
- East Valley Tribune: "State's mayors crying wolf over proposed tax cut"
-Goldwater Institute: "City Revenue Unaffected by Tax Cut"
-Goldwater Institute: "That's Enough Chocolate, Augustus"