Because you can’t separate politics from policy making, some votes are just downright tough. You can’t be in a position to cast a vote unless you survive the political process by getting elected in the first place, so all votes are considered through a political lens, no matter your ideology. It’s not wrong to consider the political consequences, and it would be crazy not to, but I believe that an overwhelming majority of sound policy votes also are sound political votes. I also believe that members of both Parties routinely miss-calculate and miss-judge opportunities to make good politics out of good policies. Arizona House Bill 2015 offers one such opportunity.
Included in HB 2015 is a provision to refer a one cent sales tax increase for each of the next two years. In 2012, that tax would drop to a half-cent for a year. After that, the tax sunsets and the rate is back to where it is today. This is a big deal for fiscal conservatives who oppose higher taxes. We at the AZFEC opposed a call for a tax increase to help balance the budget. We did this in December of 2008 as the chorus started warming up their vocal chords (editorial boards, college professors, etc.). We became more forceful in our arguments when Gov. Brewer announced her support of higher taxes on March 4. We kept up our opposition during the budget session when supporters of the tax hike opposed spending reductions to go along with it. The tax hike was only to sustain high levels of spending. Budgets were passed – without the tax referral – and vetoes ensued.
Then things got weird. Fiscal conservatives learned how to negotiate. In exchange for the tax increase referral as requested by the governor, conservatives put together one of the largest tax cuts in Arizona history. And the governor agreed. So now the trade is a possible and temporary sales tax increase for a guaranteed and permanent reduction in corporate and personal income tax rates and the permanent repeal of the state equalization tax. This is good policy, and it’s not bad politics, either.
These tax cuts don’t come along every day. So although this is a tough political vote for some, we think the sound policies behind it can also make for good politics. Lawmakers should support this deal. Click here to read more of our arguments in support of HB 2015.