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.
Earlier this year, Governor Janet Napolitano distributed to the press a study titled "The Way We Tax," which was released in the February issue of Governing Magazine. But the Governing study is far from being an ideologically neutral guide to good governance. In fact, the study has a strong bias in favor of higher taxation and higher spending.
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:
When Arizona sued the cigarette makers in 1996, the state minced no words in describing the pernicious effects of smoking: "Tobacco products are not only addictive, they are abnormally dangerous and unfit for human use. Tobacco products kill, maim, and injure virtually all who use them." Reading that, any rational person would have to conclude that the state would criminalize cigarettes. Evidently, consistency and logic take a back seat when big bucks are at stake.
Arizona has a long way to go before it can call itself a business-friendly state. Arizona's burden of state and local taxes on business as a percentage of gross state product is much higher than that of our competitor states Utah and Colorado. It is even higher than that of California, a state notorious for soaking businesses with high taxes.
Arizona's recent economic record has been impressive. Over the past 10 years, Arizona has been the third fastest-growing state in the country on average, Arizona's annual economic growth rate has been 1.6 percentage points faster than the national average. Job growth has been impressive, too. Nonfarm payroll employment grew over 33 percent, the second-fastest payroll employment growth in the country among all the states.
Like the U.S. Constitution, the Arizona Constitution clearly states the purpose and scope of government. The primacy of individual rights and its corollary, a government of strictly limited and defined powers, is established in the opening declaration:
When they take office, Arizona legislators promise to uphold the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions. The question is whether legislators, individually and collectively, fulfill their duty once in office.
With the Arizona Legislature considering nearly 1,500 bills, memorials, and resolutions each session, it is difficult to know whether legislators individually, or as a whole, are acting within the parameters of the Arizona Constitution. Like the U.S. Constitution, the Arizona Constitution delineates the purpose and scope of government and enumerates the rights of the people. The primacy of individual rights and its corollary, a government of limited and defined powers, is established in the opening declaration:
In response to profligate government spending in Arizona-spending that has plunged the state into deficit-advocates of fiscal restraint have called for a Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR). This amendment to the Arizona Constitution, which would be enacted by initiative or referendum, would keep the growth of government spending in proportion to increases in inflation and population.
The Arizona Constitution declares that "governments . . . are established to protect and maintain individual rights." As the lawmaking branch of government, the legislature has the potential to be the greatest guardian or the greatest offender of those constitutionally enshrined rights.