The Free Enterprise Club consistently opposes legislation that provides special tax breaks for targeted businesses. This session’s “special unicorn” is SB1402, informally known as the Grand Canyon University bill (GCU).
SB1402 would create a property tax carve out for nationally accredited institutions of higher education to be reclassified as a class six property, taxed at 5 percent of full cash value. Namely, this would benefit Grand Canyon University, the main proponents behind the bill, and a handful of other private educational entities.
Though understandably lawmakers wish to help Grand Canyon University grow and thrive, this is the wrong approach. Individual tax carve outs unfairly redistribute tax liabilities on other tax payers, and discourage improvements to the system as a whole. In fact, the state’s impact alone is estimated at $2.6 million which goes to back filling K-12 funding and does not take into account every district’s cost that has a higher education institution. There is no way to provide targeted property tax relief to GCU, University of Phoenix and other institutions without shifting those costs to every other tax payer.
Inevitably every session a new business comes along which lawmakers claim is unlike any other. They insist that this business is so unique and provides such monumental benefits that they should have particular exemptions not granted uniformly across the field. But this is poor public policy. Every business in the eyes of government should be treated equally and fairly. That is where lawmakers should spend their time and energy if they truly wish to help GCU, improving the exorbitant and disparate burden of commercial property taxes on all businesses.
Arizona’s public records laws are some of the best in the country for open and transparent government. SB 1282 dilutes those laws, and hinders the public’s ability to access public records to which they are entitled.
Unfortunately, this bill is headed to the House floor for a vote. It should be stopped.
SB1282 is unnecessary. The law already allows for the government grounds to deny disclosure of public records in three areas:
State lawmakers are looking to build upon the successes of last session to increase efficiency and reign in regulatory overreach by taking on the multiple boards and commissions that regulate the health professions in the state.
HB2501 would make three primary improvements that will benefit both the licensed community and consumers:
Many boards spend thousands of dollars on renting space, such as the Board of Behavioral Health Examiners that spends $7,492 a month and the Board of Nursing that spends $24,405 a month. Under HB 2501, all of the health boards beginning in FY 2017 would be relocated to the Department of Health Services, which would save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
A recent Supreme Court case, North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners VS Federal Trade Commission, it was determined that industry boards autonomous from direct oversight did not have immunity from antitrust laws. In the case of the North Carolina, the Dental Examiners Board was issuing cease and desist letters to mall kiosks distributing teeth whitening services on the grounds that their board regulated dental services in the state and teeth whitening fell under services only a licensed dental profession could administer. To prevent continued regulatory overreach by the health boards, HB 2501 would give the AZ Department of Health Services Director the authority to reject Board rules if they are anticompetitive in nature. This is a major victory for increased competition and consumer choice.
In conjunction with the physical move, the Arizona Department of Health Services will continue to study the board’s consolidation efforts and make recommendations on additional ways to streamline operations and create continuity between the boards. This ensures ongoing continued improvement as well as accountability to the regulated community. For example, the Medical Board has an annual budget of $5.7 million but takes in almost $7 million in fees and services. This is clearly an opportunity to examine the proper fee assessments and put money back into the pockets of the regulated community.
HB2501 has successfully passed out of the House and now awaits a committee hearing in the Senate. This is one of the most aggressive efficiency bills of the session and would take a large step in reigning in industry boards that tend to overreach and put up barriers to their competition.