by Jim Nintzel
A few weeks ago, we urged you to vote yes on Prop 100, the temporary one-cent sales tax that voters will decide today. Here's why:
Let us begin by saying we're not crazy about hiking the state's sales tax by a penny per dollar for the next three years.
But we're a lot less crazy about the alternative, so we're urging you to vote yes.
The state of Arizona is facing its most serious economic crisis in modern history. The Republicans running our state have already stripped health-care coverage from more than 300,000 people below the federal poverty line. They have made Arizona the only state without a KidsCare program. They've dumped all-day kindergarten and cut away at our schools. They slashed funding for our universities, forcing tuition increases on college students and their parents. They've eliminated Arizona's GED program. They cut programs for the disabled and the mentally ill. They've taken away hospice care from people who are dying. They have swiped so much money from state parks that several will have to close. They have taken money from funds meant to help victims of crimes. They have sold off the state's capitol building.
And these are just the highlights; lawmakers are engaged in the deepest cuts to state government that we have ever seen.
But those cuts are going to get even deeper if the state does not
do something to bring in more money.
We wish lawmakers had the vision to rework our entire tax system to reflect our 21st-century economy, but the clowns now running our state have no imagination—beyond suggesting tax cuts.
And so there's only one choice before us: Increasing the sales tax to bring in an estimated $867 million in the next fiscal year by voting yes on Proposition 100.
There are those who say it doesn't do enough to solve the problem. Sorry, but that's a foolish line of reasoning, suggesting that a better alternative is to do nothing while the state crashes and burns.
If the sales tax does not pass, lawmakers won't look for a more equitable tax. Instead, they'll take it as a mandate that voters want more cuts—and they will proceed accordingly.
We already know what they will cut if the sales tax does not pass. They will cut another $428 million from education. They will cut $107 million from our universities. They will cut about $150 million from health-care funding. They will cut $100 million from the criminal-justice system. And the list goes on.
Those cuts will mean the state will lose another 13,000 jobs, according to economists at the UA Eller College of Management. On top of that, we'll lose more than $442 million in federal matching funds that would bring new dollars into our economy.
That's right: We'll kiss goodbye $442 million—money that would boost our economy. How dumb is that?
Take a look at who backs this tax. Your firefighters are behind it. Your universities are behind it. Your teachers are behind it. Your chambers of commerce are behind it. Your hospitals are behind it. Your business leaders are behind it. Your churches are behind it. Even Gov. Jan Brewer, who brags that she has never before supported a tax increase, is behind it.
And who is against it? Mostly just politicians who are lying when they say the state just needs to tighten its belt a little bit more.
We can think of plenty of better ways to fund state government. We'd rather see the tax base broadened a bit. We'd rather see a slight increase in income taxes on Arizona's highest earners, who got a big tax break just three years ago. We'd rather get lawmakers who recognize that an economy responds to something besides tax cuts.
But we don't have those choices. Instead, we have lawmakers who can't wait to cut even more as soon as you give them an excuse. They're the ones who are telling you to vote against the sales tax so they can get on with the slicing and dicing of everything that Arizona taxpayers have built over the last 100 years.
If the sales tax fails, the people who want to destroy our state win.
Save the state of Arizona. Vote yes on May 18.