Despite the fact that at least 75% of Arizona corporations pay only the minimum $50 in taxes each year, the Arizona Legislature recently worked to pass yet another tax credit to keep corporate tax revenue from reaching the state’s General Fund. SB 1392 would have given corporations, (who may, or may not be, physically located in our state), relief for the Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT), (which must be collected by the seller), for digital goods and services. I say “would have given” because after this article was originally submitted, the bill looked like it was headed for the junk pile, in the opinion of many experts, exactly where it belonged.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) estimated it would result in a General Fund loss, but stipulated it was difficult to quantify the amount, recommending more time be taken to fully understand the impact. The Arizona League of Cities and Towns estimated the revenue loss for state and local governments would be in excess of $100 million a year, with a $14M decrease to Prop. 301 alone, directly impacting teachers’ salaries.
As if that weren’t bad enough, AZ Senate President Steven Yarbrough is also pushing through SB 1467 to further expand the School Tuition Organization (STO) tax credit program for private schools. This despite an already 20% annual increase to what many believe is an unsustainable program.
So why does the Legislature continue to work additional tax credits that shrink our General Fund and pull money directly from our public schools? I believe they view our K-12 education funding as the “gift that keeps on giving”. They know there is probably no other line item that enjoys more support from voters. If push comes to shove they think, we will agree to replace the funding they siphoned off, because we refuse to deny our schools the support they need. The funding they hope we’ll agree to of course, will be in the form of locally-supported bonds and overrides, increased sales tax, or some other less desirable solution (such as the Prop. 123 settlement).
Far from supporting free market capitalism, the Legislature’s granting of all these tax credits plays favorites and hurts small local businesses. And since they are not regularly reviewed for return on investment, and once approved, have no sundown clauses to prevent them from continuing into perpetuity, they hurt our state’s future as well.
These two bills are only the most recent examples of the fiscal irresponsibility of our current lawmakers. The only way we will turn things around, is to flip enough seats to bring parity and fiscal sanity to the Legislature. To do that, we absolutely need you. To vote. To volunteer. To donate. To do everything you can to ensure this madness ends.