Saturday, February 28, 2009

They're not even putting up a pretense of professional governance any more, are they?

Either the Reps don't have a clue as to how much they are crippling the state's ability to thrive in a modern society, or they've run the numbers and have figured out that they are screwed in next year's elections and have collectively decided to rampage through the tax code and social compact, wreaking as much havoc as they can before they are kicked to the electoral curb.

...Thus far, whether it's from the governor's office or from the back rooms of the lege, every idea hatched to help the state out of its fiscal mess is either short-sighted or places the burden squarely on the backs of the poor and working-class residents of Arizona.

The latest scheme from the governor - sell state assets and lease them back for continued use - would result in only a one-time benefit to the state's cash flow and a long-term degradation of the state's balance sheet (there was also talk of making the sale/lease-back into a sale/buy-back scheme, which just shifts the long-term pain back to the state's cash flow).

This is just an apt follow-up to her plan to hold a special election for raising the state's sales tax and to crack open the Voter Protection Act measures that protect certain programs and initiatives from legislative interference. Programs and initiatives that include Clean Elections, a raise in the minimum wage, statewide smoking restrictions, increased Medicaid eligibility, and education funding.

Of course, the lege is trying to out-irresponsible the governor. In addition to the attempts to further cut revenue with attacks on the state's equalization property tax (dedicated to education) and others, they're now floating a plan to "reform" the state's tax structure.

In this context, "reform" is short for a strike-everything amendment to a bill that would "slash the state's corporate and business taxes and jack up the state's sales tax." (Fact sheet on the strike-everything amendment here)

The striker was proposed for the purpose of bringing the issue up for discussion during February 23rd's meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee (meeting audio available here).

During the discussion, the Republican chair of the committee, Rep. Rick Murphy, made it clear that the only tax increase that he would support would be an increase to the ever-regressive sales tax, *and* that any increase should be matched with equal cuts to corporate and business tax rates.

Even if one ignores the fact that sales taxes (sometimes known as consumption taxes) is perhaps the most regressive tax in use (a fact that the Reps usually ignore, gleefully), the sales tax is a notoriously unreliable source of revenue, and the over-reliance on it has contributed greatly to AZ's budget crisis.

It wouldn't be surprising if Brewer finds that the lege's price for signing off on a special election to raise the sales tax is Brewer's signature on a bill to cut business taxes.

If that is the situation, while there's no guarantee that any special election questions will pass, no matter what happens the state will be worse off.

That is *not* what any of them -Brewer or the lege - were hired for.

Actually, on review of the opening paragraph, there is a third option -

They know how much damage they are causing, are proud of it, and believe that their rampage is the ticket to remain in office.

That's truly scary.


David Safier's take on recent developments is available at Blog for Arizona here.

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