Monthly Archives: October 2017

The Following is a Press Release Issued by Citizens Against Prop 417, the Grassroots Committee Opposed to the Pinal County Transportation Tax Increase:

Casa Grande, AZ (October 30th)–In their effort to pass an illegal, unnecessary tax hike in Pinal County, the backers of Prop. 417 have raised $200,000 dollars from developers, lawyers, construction companies and auto dealers based in Maricopa County.  To date the special interest funded “yes” campaign has outspent the opposition 30 to 1.

“It’s not surprising that well-funded special interests from Maricopa County want to raise our taxes. Many of these companies are going to profit immensely from Prop 417 while we are stuck paying the bill.” said Harold Vangilder, Casa Grande Resident and Chairman of Citizens against Prop 417.

According to their campaign finance report filed October 15th, the “New Roads and Freeways before it’s too late” committee raised 95% of their campaign war chest from Phoenix area special interests. Another $10,000 came from Texas. Less than 1% of the money raised in support of Prop 417 came from Pinal County.

“This entire transportation plan is bought and paid for by Phoenix area developers and lawyers.” Said Richard Brinkley, SaddleBrooke resident and Treasurer of Citizens against Prop 417. “Why should we pay for a tax hike that benefits them?”

In addition to Prop 417 being a Maricopa county funded scheme, all of the vendors used for the campaign are based outside Pinal County. Not a single person living in Pinal County was utilized in their campaign spending spree.

Opposition to Prop 417 has been growing rapidly over the last several weeks as Pinal residents learn more about the $640 Million tax increase. Not only is the current transportation tax being wasted and abused, but the County has been notified by a non-profit watchdog organization that Prop 417 is illegally drafted and will be heading to court if it passes.

“The County continues to ignore the legal issues associated with Prop 417, and now we find out that the entire campaign is being funded by outside interests that won’t even have to pay the tax.” Said Peggy Knowles, Pinal County resident and former President of the Republican Women of Pinal County. “Their hypocrisy and arrogance is unbelievable.”

The campaign finance report for “New Roads and Freeways before it’s too late” can be viewed by clicking HERE.

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Paid for by Citizens Against Prop 417. Not Authorized by any Candidate or Candidate Campaign Committee

Today the Arizona Free Enterprise Club released a comprehensive study of the Kansas tax reform experiment, reviewing many of the claims made by opponents of the 2012 tax cuts to determine their accuracy and applicability to income tax reform.

Titled “The Kansas Tax Reform Experiment: How Arizona Can Learn the Right Lessons from the Sunflower State,” the study finds that many of the claims made by detractors of the Kansas tax package are simply not true. State spending did not decline after the tax cuts were enacted, economic growth was faster when compared to similarly sized states and business growth accelerated in the state.

Rather, the budgetary problems encountered by Kansas were avoidable mistakes that Arizona can learn from if meaningful tax reform is to be implemented in the Grand Canyon State. Some of the lessons from the Kansas experiment include:

  • Spending restraint is key to any large tax cut—Contrary to the myth pushed by critics of the Kansas tax cuts, per capita spending was not slashed in the Sunflower State. In fact, overall spending increased in Kansas from 2013 to 2016. Any state considering large scale tax cuts should not plan to spend more.
  • Tax reform should include the elimination of targeted incentives and tax credits—When Governor Brownback originally proposed his tax plan, it included the elimination of carve-outs that would have simplified the tax code and recovered lost revenue. These reforms, however, were excluded from the final package, a major mistake that should not be made by other states considering reform.
  • Don’t overestimate revenue growth from tax cuts—A common mistake made by supporters of supply side tax cuts is to overestimate economic growth, and with it new tax revenue, that will immediately pay for the tax cuts. This is often not the case, and projected revenues associated with dynamic scoring should be approached conservatively.
  • Some changes in the tax code generate more economic growth than others—A key to successful tax reform is understanding that some taxes are more damaging to economic activity than others. This is especially true when considering job growth related to productivity taxes vs. consumption taxes. It is even possible that revenue neutral tax reform can generate additional economic growth if structured properly.

The paper also takes a look at the arguments made by progressive pundits to determine if the ‘blue state’ model of higher taxes and regulations has been more successful in the US than the low-income-tax ‘red state’ model. Our findings clearly show that red states such as Texas and Florida consistently outperform their high tax competitors such as Illinois, a fact consistently ignored by liberal detractors.

The Club’s policy paper can be viewed HERE.

It is hardly debatable that Phoenix’s decision to get into the hotel business nearly a decade ago has been a costly mistake for taxpayers.  Since opening, the city-owned Sheraton has sustained millions in operating losses and does not anticipate being a profitable enterprise anytime in the near future.

So, when the City announced it was going to sell the Sheraton, an opportunity was created for city hall to recoup its costs and make taxpayers as whole as possible. Unfortunately, Phoenix Leadership instead decided to use this opportunity to once again soak taxpayer for short term political gain.

Last week, Phoenix completed a deal to sell the Sheraton hotel to a developer for $255 million.  The City built the hotel for $350 million, and even after the sale still owes almost $50 million in debt.

If swallowing a $50 million-dollar loss wasn’t bad enough, Phoenix also gave away millions in subsidies to the developer. Inserted into the deal was a massive $97 million property tax incentive package and the City’s hotel replacement fund, worth approximately $11 million.  With all incentives factored in, the real sale price is closer to $144 million, less than half its original value.

All of this begs the question: Why now accept such a lousy deal when for years a majority of councilmembers and Mayor Greg Stanton fought the sale of the Sheraton?

The reason should anger taxpayers even more. To pay for the construction and operation of the Sheraton hotel, the city has used the sports facilities tax, a revenue stream that generates around $10 million a year. It is no secret that Mayor Stanton and others want to use this tax to build a new sports arena (perhaps for hockey or basketball), and needed to unload the Sheraton to make this happen.  It is outrageous that taxpayers should endure a $200 million-dollar loss on the Sheraton hotel just so a group of city insiders can use the revenue stream to invest in another project.

Furthermore, the property tax carveout included in the deal (GPLET) is currently under litigation.  The Goldwater Institute has sued for several major Constitutional violations with the property tax scheme, one being the “Gift Clause” which precludes municipalities from giving a private person or entity a financial benefit without receiving a benefit to the public at large.

While most of City Hall was on board with this scheme, it should be noted that not everyone went along with this insanity – Councilmen Jim Waring and Sal Dicicio voted against the transaction in an effort to protect taxpayers.  But as is most everything in the City of Phoenix politics – insanity reigns.



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The Arizona Free Enterprise Club is a free market policy and advocacy group dedicated to promoting a strong and vibrant Arizona economy.