Tax Reform

Americans are a hard-working bunch and should keep what they earn. Our ideas for tax reform reduce the burden of taxes while ensuring governments have the resources to focus on core responsibilities.

<p>Americans are a hard-working bunch and should keep what they earn. Our ideas for tax reform reduce the burden of taxes while ensuring governments have the resources to focus on core responsibilities. </p>

Months after the housing bubble burst in 2007, Arizona passed a state budget that many knew was out of balance the day it was passed. By summer of 2007, there was even talk of having a special session to fix the situation.

When state legislatures reconvene in January, a priority for many will be passing some kind of “jobs” bill. What form that might take is open to debate, but there are already lessons to be learned on what not to do.

In 2009 the Arizona legislature, like many other states, passed a bill providing “tax incentives” (AKA subsidies) for renewable-energy industries. The legislature partly responded to pressure from those who thought they’d found the next big thing in "green jobs." It also followed on the heels of a new solar panel factory in Tucson, Arizona.

Despite Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the national credit rating, the federal government’s rating is still better than Arizona’s.

Our rating, AA-, is the same as Kentucky, Michigan, and New Jersey. Not exactly state’s that are pictures of economic health. In fact, 44 states have a better credit rating than Arizona, including all of our regional competitors: Colorado (AA), Nevada (AA), New Mexico (AA+), Texas (AA+), and Utah (AAA). Only two states in the country have worse ratings, including California, which has the lowest rating (A-).

It’s a simple, powerful idea: Let people keep more of their own money, and they’ll put it to work in thousands of ways, boosting the economy and setting the stage for long-term growth. Goldwater’s policy research shows how broad, low taxes can drive long-term prosperity.

Really, it's past time the issue of tax incentives for developers is resolved.

It would have been better if Arizona's municipalities had just understood the inadequacy of the state tax code and worked out reasonable arrangements to share revenues.

We shouldn't have had to go to court.

But that never happened. If cities thought they had an advantage, they would exploit it. They would not compromise.

A lawsuit filed last week by the Goldwater Institute may be the beginning of the end of the counterproductive and increasingly idiotic practice of municipal tax incentives.

The Legislature has been trying to rein in the practice. But it shouldn't be up to the Legislature. The Arizona Constitution plainly prohibits such subsidies.

The institute sued to stop Phoenix from providing the tax abatement committed to CityNorth, a vast, upscale shopping complex going up at the intersection of the 101 Highway and 56th Street.

Proposition 203, "First Things First," was designed to be popular. But should it be? It strengthens government's role in the upbringing of young children, at the expense of parents. And it's funded with a regressive, unstable tax.

The $150 million tax would fund unspecified new government programs for children up to age 5. It would create a new government office, the "Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Board," which would be appointed by the governor to oversee "regional partnership councils" which would distribute the money.

This is about taxes and the rise of the Democrats, so we expect Democrats eyes to glaze over immediately.

That's the problem; Democrats eyes glaze over every time they hear conservatives start talking about the evils of high taxation. They believe, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that raising taxes increases government revenue.

Consider the state income tax.

Two candidates for governor want to abolish it. The third wants to wait on any further cuts until two recent rounds of income-tax deductions play out.

So which approach is right for Arizona? Economists differ on the long-term consequences, but most agree that killing the income tax would make it difficult in the short run to keep state government programs at their current level, as the tax produces 40 percent of the state's revenue.

Janet Napolitano ran for governor on a platform that included closing tax loopholes.

Nearly four years later, most of those loopholes remain, as well as several new ones that Napolitano signed into law.

The new tax breaks include $12.4 million in savings for state university research infrastructure projects, sales-tax exemptions for the motion-picture industry that totaled an estimated $600,000 in 2005-06, and an undetermined amount of sales-tax savings for timber-cutting businesses, according to state reports.

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