Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Goldwater Institute: More taxes to balance the budget?

By Steve Voeller

If incoming lawmakers are going to hear from professors and pundits that the state's budget woes were caused by tax cuts and can be solved by tax hikes, then they ought to hear what actual taxpayers have to say about it as well.

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club, a pro-growth advocacy group, yesterday launched a "No New Taxes" petition in response to a growing discussion about a possible tax increase to balance the budget.

Professors at Arizona State University released a study that blames the state's $1.7 billion budget deficit on income and property tax cuts from the 1990's and 2006. The study also states that a $1 billion tax increase would be preferable to budget cuts of the same size.

Citing the ASU study, the Tucson Citizen argued that there is a case to be made for increasing taxes. And although she said it's "not something she'd like to see," soon-to-be-Governor Jan Brewer didn't rule out a tax increase.

As a percentage of the general fund, Arizona has the largest budget deficit in the country. The Free Enterprise Club has argued that the deficit was caused by state spending that far surpassed reasonable measuring sticks for budget growth.

The Arizona budget grew from $6.5 billion in 2004 to $10.6 billion in 2008, a 63 percent increase. Over that same time period, personal income growth was 37 percent and population plus inflation growth was about 30 percent.

You can't grow government faster than the ability of taxpayers to pay for it and not expect budget shortfalls.

If you'd like to add your name to the list of Arizonans who don't think we need to raise taxes in order to balance the budget, please click here.

Steve Voeller is president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance policies that promote a strong and vibrant Arizona economy.

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