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Sun, Aug. 18

State budget theme for AZ Town Hall
Think tank panel will be in Kingman Wednesday

KINGMAN - Arizona Town Hall returns to Kingman Wednesday to discuss the organization's recent recommendations for solving Arizona's current and future budget issues. The organization will also ask for public input on the situation and its recommendations.

Arizona Town Hall is a private, non-profit think tank that gathers the opinions and suggestions each year from approximately 150 Arizona business owners, political officials and others across the state on important issues. The organization then partners with one of the state's three universities to create a report on the issues.

The reports are said to serve as a valuable resource for policymakers because the recommendations do not represent the agenda of a particular group or political perspective.

According to this year's report, Arizona's revenue system is tied too closely to the state's highly cyclical economy. Changes to the revenue system have only increased the problem. The state also relies too heavily on a narrow sales and income tax base. It also needs to better balance the tax burden on individuals and corporations.

This has created a situation where the amount of revenue collected is not enough to pay the state's expenses and discourages new businesses from locating in the state.

Arizona Town Hall is recommending that Gov. Jan Brewer and the Legislature immediately work to balance the state budget, approve a temporary sales tax with a sunset provision, cut spending and continue looking for other sources of revenue, such as, temporarily increasing income and property taxes, expanding the sales tax to other products, expand user fees, reduce tax credits and increase revenue from gaming.

In the long-term, Arizona Town Hall is recommending that the state reinstate the state property tax, increase efforts to get federal funds, increase the cap on the state rainy day fund to at least 20 percent of the state's general

fund and cap the amount of money that can be withdrawn from the fund, increase taxes on gasoline, tie state expenditures to revenue and consider other types of taxes such as an inheritance tax.

It also suggests the state eliminate the two-thirds majority vote in the Legislature required to install a new state tax, require sunset provisions for programs put into place by voter initiatives, remove term limits or lengthen the amount of time a legislator can serve in office, reevaluate the tools the state uses to project revenue and reward individuals who identify waste or improve fiscal efficiency.

Other long-range actions include creating a system that will adjust spending in the event of another revenue shortfall, create an independent agency similar to the Congressional Budget Office to monitor revenues and expenses, replace the annual budget cycle with a two year budget cycle and establish a blue ribbon panel to conduct a public review of the budget process.

The report as well as its list of recommendations is available for download from the Arizona Town Hall Web site, www.aztownhall.org.

The program will be held at noon Wednesday at the County Administration Building, 700 W. Beale St. Seating is limited and reservations are required.

To reserve a seat, call (602) 252-9600 or register online at www.aztownhall.org.

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