ARIZONA: Budget Woes Stretch Past July 4th, Labor Day, Halloween ... and Possibly Thanksgiving?

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Arizona currently faces a roughly $2 billion budget deficit in the current fiscal year, with agencies such as the Department of Revenue on the verge of depleting all available funding.  Yet, as they have done multiple times over the past five months, state legislators have once more proven unable to craft a comprehensive and balanced solution to the problem before them.  As the Arizona Republic reports, the Senate Republican leadership yet again fell one vote short of passing a plan that, among other things, would slash $300 million in funding from K-12 education and social services.  Senate leadership failed to win a single Democratic vote – and thus to  generate a majority for its latest budget plan – in large measure because it continues to refuse to consider any options for generating additional tax revenue.  As Sen. Ken Cheuvront argued, “there … needs to be a two-pronged approach … As we make those cuts, we also have to look at raising revenues.”

There is certainly support in some quarters for that sort of balanced approach.  The mayors of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, and Tempe – who collectively represent roughly a sixth of Arizona’s population – recently came together to express support for revamping the state’s tax system and to urge state lawmakers to avoid pushing the state’s budget difficulties onto municipalities.  In addition, the Arizona Budget Coalition, which includes SEIU, the Arizona Education Association, and the Children’s Action Alliance (CAA), this week announced its own set of alternatives to the plan backed by legislative leadership; among those alternatives are an increase in the state’s sales tax rate and modifications to the state’s controversial tuition tax credits.  

To learn more about the role that tax cuts have played in creating Arizona’s budget crisis, read this helpful report from the CAA.

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