EDITORIAL for October 4-November 6, 2012
Cashier: That will be $11 please. $10 for what you bought and a dollar in taxes.
Customer: Thatís an awful lot of tax.
As usual the customer is right. That is a lot of tax. Iím CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof and I can tell you that Arizona has one of the highest sales tax rates in the nation. In most areas it approaches ten percent. One of the reasons for the high sales tax is that two years ago the voters of Arizona approved a temporary levy to bail the state out of its financial dilemma. That tax is scheduled to expire next May but a group of do-gooders has placed Proposition 204 on the ballot to make the temporary tax increase permanent.
Now, generally speaking, it isnít all that easy to get the public to vote themselves a tax increase so for that reason proponents of tax increases usually resort to emotional campaigns rather than appealing to reason. Scare campaigns are a popular way to get tax increases approved. Tell the public that the sky will fall and horrible things will happen unless we raise tax rates. Another emotional pitch is to say that itís for the children or it will help the elderly or the sick. We tend to get emotional about children to the point where we toss reason and logic aside.
In the case of Proposition 204, the idea is to force the state to fund education along with a few other pet projects that the propositionís backers think are important. These include road building projects which are much less emotional than children. That was needed to get construction companies to help pay for the TV ads. The TV ads say that politicians wonít fund education so we must do the things that the politicians wonít do. A good question here is how did these short sighted politicians get their jobs? Did the members of the Arizona legislature get their positions through some strange act of fate? Of course not. They came to power because we elected them. If we donít like the way the members of our legislature are budgeting our money, why not un-elect them and replace them with people who do believe in funding education?
One excuse for skimping on education is that there isnít enough money available. Thatís baloney. Thereís about 28 billion dollars a year flowing into the state government. But weíre spending it in the wrong places. One of the biggest costs of running the Arizona Government is the Department of Corrections which costs nearly a billion dollars a year. Arizona has one of the highest incarceration rates of any state in the nation. Do we really need to lock up 40,000 of our citizens? Why not change some of our backward criminal laws? Do we really need to give long prison sentences to people who possess small quantities of drugs? Some of our laws about sex crimes are crazier than the people who commit those crimes. Do we really need mandatory ten year prison sentences for every dirty picture of a juvenile that someone downloaded on his computer? This law alone is costing us hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be used to pay teachers. Make our criminal code similar to what most states have and there will be tons of cash freed up to educate the kids
The TV ads for proposition 204 also claim that the high sales tax will help the economy. How does it help the economy to take money away from people every time they make a purchase?
What the high sales tax really does is to encourage people to buy things out of state and particularly buy things on line from out of state companies. That certainly doesnít help Arizonaís economy any.
Some states have no sales tax at all. Maybe we need to find out how Oregon and Montana manage to find money to educate their children on zero percent sales tax.
If our legislature isnít allocating cash for education, maybe now is a good time to replace our lawmakers. The entire legislature is up for election on November sixth. Now you might ask how can you know which of the Representatives and Senators oppose funding the schools. Iíll give you a hint. For many years both the Arizona House and Senate have had huge Republican majorities. We also have a Republican Governor. So if they arenít doing right by us maybe we need to give someone else a chance.
As far as the sales tax is concerned, letís let not be foolish enough to vote ourselves another tax increase. Proposition 204 is a complicated billion dollar measure that creates more problems than it solves. Even Governor Brewer suggests that we vote no on 204 and I agree with her. Weíre taxed way too much as it is.
Iím CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof and the opinions youíve just heard are mine and not necessarily anyone elseís. If youíd like a copy of this editorial or youíd like to express your opinions, go to the CAVE web site. Weíre at CAVEFM. Com. Thatís CAVEFM.com