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Wed, Sept. 18

Illegals, sales tax blasted at Town Hall
One resident says common sense lacking at statehouse

SUZANNE ADAMS/ Miner<br><br/>Arizona Town Hall President Tara Jackson speaks to a small crowd at an event Wednesday. The organization was collecting public comments about Arizona’s revenue crisis. <br/>

SUZANNE ADAMS/ Miner<br><br/>Arizona Town Hall President Tara Jackson speaks to a small crowd at an event Wednesday. The organization was collecting public comments about Arizona’s revenue crisis. <br/>

KINGMAN - Representatives from Wednesday's Arizona Town Hall got a slightly different take on Arizona's revenue crisis from Mohave County residents.

Fred Williams, one of the 15 residents who attended the meeting, told Arizona Town Hall President Tara Jackson that the state needed more elected leaders who focused less on party affiliation and more on a common sense approach to solving the state's problems.

Another resident was upset that she had to pay out-of-state tuition for her granddaughter to attend school, but a Hispanic couple with children received grants and aid.

The state should look at ways to reduce the cost of providing medical, educational and other services to people who entered the country illegally, she said. That would certainly help eliminate some of the state deficit.

"Have you ever seen a temporary tax?" asked resident Gloria Williams, referring to Gov. Jan Brewer's temporary sales tax. The tax would add 1 cent to the state's existing sales tax for the next three years. The tax will go before voters on the May 18 ballot.

Government entities should be encouraged not to spend everything that they're given. And they shouldn't be penalized if they do have money left over at the end of the year, she said.

Resident Richard Bone told Jackson that state leaders needed to focus less on protecting their own salaries and the income of the upper class and more on supporting their middle and working class citizens.

Arizona Town Hall is a non-profit organization that gathers people from all over the state to study and makes recommendations on different issues that directly affect the state of Arizona. In November, the town hall released a study and recommendations on Arizona's current revenue crisis.

The town hall recommended reforming Arizona's revenue collection system, especially taking a second look at the state's tax structure; putting limits on the use of the state's rainy day fund; looking at state spending; setting time limits on voter-approved programs; eliminating the need for a supermajority in the Legislature to approve new revenue streams; removing term limits or lengthening the amount of time a legislator can serve in office; reevaluating the tools the state uses to project revenue; and rewarding 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, creating an independent agency similar to the Congressional Budget Office to monitor revenues and expenses, replacing the annual budget cycle with a two-year budget cycle, and establishing a blue-ribbon panel to conduct a public review of the budget process.

The report as well as its list of recommendations can be viewed at www.aztownhall.org.

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