Miner Editorial | … Fools us twice, shame on us
During the course of our everyday lives, everyone becomes aware of some simple and indisputable truths.
If we don’t pay our utilities, they are going to be shut off. If we don’t pay the water and sanitation bill, water ceases to flow magically out of the faucets and the trash can stays full.
The same goes for our gas and electricity bills. If we keep stalling on making the payments for these services, we’ll soon find ourselves not being served.
When it comes to our state government, this system of withholding payments is not a two-way street. When our state government shortchanges its people, it usually takes an act of litigation to get things restored.
The state government robbed the people of a good portion of our educational funding as its answer to the 2008 financial crisis. In the state’s infinite wisdom, it was better to have a financial crisis and an educational crisis rather than only having the one.
The people, for all intents and purposes, had to take the state government to court so its education funding would be met as dictated by the Arizona Constitution. In the spirit of settlement, the voters agreed to sell public lands granted to the state for its education in order to pay back the educational fund for the years the state government fell short of its required mandate.
“Thanks to the voters’ approval of Proposition 123 in May (2016), Arizona school districts will receive hundreds of millions of new dollars,” Gov. Doug Ducey said. “These new resources will make a meaningful difference in the lives of teachers and kids across our state.”
First, the state used education sources to fund other programs, and then used education sources to pay back education. Shame on you.
President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in late 2017, which the White House said would bring tax relief for middle-income families and would make filing taxes less complicated.
It made things easier by reducing many deductions available before the tax reform bill and replaced them by doubling the standard deduction.
Gov. Ducey has said he agrees with the elimination of those deductions, which would also be eliminated when taxpayers file their Arizona income tax.
What Ducey didn’t do, which the federal government did, was increase the standard deduction to make up for them. What that did for Ducey and his conservative budget was keep $155 million that was taken from Arizona taxpayers for his “rainy day” fund.
What about the “rainy day” fund of individual taxpayers? The governor has not spoken to that.
There was an attempt by the state Legislature this session to force the governor into giving up his “windfall” and returning the $155 million to its rightful owners, the taxpayers. Ducey vetoed a proposal to do so, and those in favor of getting that money returned have said time has run out to do so this year as the votes aren’t available for an override.
Legislators are promising to “make sure that, on the whole, taxpayers are equal to, if not better off, than they were” by enacting a future change in the tax code so the governor’s rainy day fund doesn’t continue “in perpetuity” and the extra dollars the state took this year will be refunded down the road.
Trusting the state to give these dollars back would amount to fooling us again.
There’s another month or so left in the first regular session, and the Legislature will be back for its second session in January. That is just months before they’ll be back seeking your vote for reelection.
If we don’t hold them accountable for returning our tax refunds, well then, shame on us.