Costs and Tax Increase are a Train Wreck for Phoenix Transportation Plan

MBQF

Sticker Shock Drives Phoenicians Opinions Over Proposed Light Rail Expansion – Voters Favor Other Public Priorities

(Phoenix, AZ) — MBQF, a public opinion survey consulting firm, announced today the results of a recent public opinion survey conducted on March 5, 2015.  Although the results from the automated telephonic survey show likely Phoenix City voters give initial grudging support toward a light rail and transportation expansion plan – Phoenix voters quickly reverse course once educated about the potential costs and a tax increase.  Voters appear to remain skeptical over light rail for other priorities.

In the most recent automated telephonic survey of 580 likely Phoenix City voters, the survey calculates a 4.04% theoretical margin of error, plus or minus in percentage points, 95% of the time.  54.4% of respondents were women while 45.6% were men.

Almost two-thirds of respondents believe their tax-money should be prioritized elsewhere when asked,  “NOW, do you feel the city of Phoenix should prioritize transportation and spend $33 Billion dollars over the next 35 years that includes a proposed light rail expansion or do you believe the $33 billion dollars could be best spent in other areas such as education, public safety, police and fire, and health and disability services.”

Press 1 if you believe that the light rail and transportation is the best investment    34.83%

Press 2 if you believe that the money would be best used for other public needs      65.17%

Michael Noble concluded, “When 2/3 of voters agree on a spending issue, policy makers ought to take heed.  They are the type of numbers that are usually followed by a voter initiative.”
For more information about this survey, or a summary of topline data and wording, please contact MBQF Consulting. The margin of error for this survey is +/-4.04%.

Script

Hello, we are doing a brief survey on current issues within the City of Phoenix.  Some elected officials are considering spending tax dollars on transportation and we would like to ask your thoughts on these important issues.  Your name was selected at random and your responses are completely confidential.

1. Are you aware that the City of Phoenix has proposed spending $33 billion dollars over the next 35 years to triple the ridership of the current light rail and expand the transportation system?

Press 1 if you are aware     71.9%
Press 2 if you have never heard of it      22.24%
Press 3 if you are unsure    5.86%

2. Supporters of this potential light rail expansion argue that the plan would also expand bus services and improve or fix the city’s aging street system. Do you agree or disagree with these priorities?

Press 1 if you agree        53.79%
Press 2 if you disagree    46.21%

3. Are you aware that if the proposed light rail transportation expansion is approved it would increase Phoenix sales taxes by 15% and cost $161 Million per mile to build and operate? Would this information make you more likely or less likely to support the transportation expansion?

Press 1 for More Likely                  26.72%
Press 2 for Less Likely                   63.45%
Press 3 if it makes no difference     9.83%

4. NOW, do you feel the city of Phoenix should prioritize transportation and spend $33 Billion dollars over the next 35 years that includes a proposed light rail expansion or do you believe the $33 billion dollars could be best spent in other areas such as education, public safety, police and fire, and health and disability services.

Press 1 if you believe that the light rail and transportation is the best investment    34.83%
Press 2 if you believe that the money would be best used for other public needs    65.17%

5. If you were running the City of Phoenix, please tell me what you personally believe is the most important public priority as a taxpayer.   Would you invest tax dollars in Public Safety, Education, Disability services, expansion of the light rail or improvement of freeways/roads?

Press 1 for Public Safety   18.97%
Press 2 for Education        33.97%
Press 3 for Disability services   4.14%
Press 4 for expansion of the light rail    13.28%
Press 5 for repairing and improving current freeways and roads    19.48%
Press 6 if you are unsure   10.17%

6.  Leading the charge for the light rail transportation expansion is current Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, while the primary opponent of the light rail transportation expansion is Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio. Based on this, whose leadership do you most trust with your tax money?

Press 1 for Greg Stanton      35.17%
Press 2 for Sal DiCiccio        37.59%
Press 3 if you have no opinion at this time      27.24%

7.  Press 1 if you are Male          45.6%
Press 2 if you are Female      54.4%

Thank you for your time.

Don’t Embrace Big Federal Government, Support the Compact for a Balanced Budget

By Nick Dranias

Yes, it’s true. The handful of folks who still oppose states organizing behind the Compact for a Balanced Budget to advance and ratify a powerful federal Balanced Budget Amendment embrace big federal government. Of course, they may not mean to do so. But the truth is that by hugging and holding the political status quo, the Balanced Budget Amendment fear-mongers are in a death embrace with the things they claim they oppose.

Why is that? Simply put, we no longer enjoy the form of federal government the Founders originally created. This is because the Constitution as it currently exists has three fatal flaws, which will inexorably lead to tyranny unless they are fixed with a constitutional amendment.

The first is the federal government’s unlimited borrowing capacity. This enables politicians to promise at no immediate cost anything it takes to get elected. That’s like handing liquor and car keys to a teenager. It guarantees a system crash propelled by mindless spending.

The second is unlimited direct taxation authority courtesy of the 16th Amendment. This empowers politicians to make 49% of the nation pay for anything the 51% want; and also to impose complete economic destruction on political enemies and disfavored policy ideas. If this flaw persists, what the IRS did to conservative groups two years ago is just a small taste of what the future holds.

The third is the unlimited concentration of power over national policy making in Washington, DC courtesy of the 17th Amendment. This amendment removed the states from a position of control over the U.S. Senate. It has enabled the federal government to ratify treaties and laws, as well as populate the federal judiciary and federal agencies, without any respect for state sovereignty. And it allows a growing distant political class in Washington, DC to easily leverage overwhelming national power to crush dissent and policy diversity in the heartland.

These three flaws will cause the federal government to gradually accumulate and centralize all political power over time. Over time, these three flaws will make it impossible for limited government and freedom-oriented elected officials to outcompete elected officials who favor big federal government for votes. Consequently, hugging and holding this fatally flawed system is doomed to produce the opposite of freedom. To mix metaphors, voting people in or out of the federal government under these conditions is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Only a constitutional amendment can fix the three fatal flaws of the Constitution as it currently exists. Nothing else will.

But it is irrational to expect two-thirds of each house of Congress to propose the necessary reform. The numbers did not add up in the 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s, and they just do not add up today. Instead, especially after the last election, there is a much more plausible pathway; that pathway involves organizing three-fourths of the states and simple majorities of Congress behind the necessary reform amendment in a targeted fashion. It means supporting the Compact for a Balanced Budget.

Simply put, the Balanced Budget Amendment advanced by the Compact for a Balanced Budget gives us the best shot of addressing each of the Constitution’s three fatal flaws with fundamental reforms.

To fix the flaw of unlimited federal borrowing capacity, the Amendment imposes an initially-fixed constitutional limit on available borrowing capacity. This limit gives the federal government an additional 5% in borrowing capacity above the outstanding federal debt upon ratification. This 5% cushion allows for a 1 to 2 year transitional period to responsible budgeting and fiscal planning. And there is no doubt the amendment will focus the mind during that transitional period. This is because the debt limit is coupled to a mandatory spending impoundment requirement that kicks-in when 98% of the debt limit is reached. Spending will be limited to available tax and fee cash flow if the debt limit is hit. There is no exception except for the referendum process described below. This one reform guarantees that Washington politicians will immediately lose the ability to promise anything at no immediate cost to get elected.

To fix the flaw of the unlimited centralization of national policy making in Washington, the Amendment empowers a majority of state legislatures to veto any increase in the federal government’s constitutionally-fixed borrowing capacity. To get any additional borrowing capacity above the initial constitutional baseline, simple majorities of Congress will have to refer-out a measure proposing the increase. The proposal will be deemed denied unless it is approved by at least twenty-six state legislatures within 60 days of the referral. With the federal government borrowing nearly half of discretionary spending, this referendum process divides power over national policy making between the states and the federal government in a big way.

Finally, to fix the flaw of unlimited federal taxation authority, the Amendment imposes a tax limit requiring two-thirds of each house of Congress to approve any new or increased income or sales tax. The current constitutional rule allowing for tax increases with simple majorities will be restricted to measures that would completely replace the income tax with a consumption sales tax, eliminate tax loopholes, or impose new or increased tariffs and fees. The reform will divert the pressure for new revenue to the places where special interest pushback will be the strongest, further ensuring that deficits are closed by spending reductions first.

National polling shows that each one of these policy fixes are supported by supermajorities of the American people. With Alaska and Georgia already on board, and at least ten states looking to join the Compact this session, the Compact for a Balanced Budget is an eminently plausible route to the reforms we need to save and restore the Republic.

Indeed, with demographic change threatening the supermajorities needed to get the job done, the Compact for a Balanced Budget may be our last best shot at preventing the federal tyranny that will otherwise inevitably result from the Constitution’s three fatal flaws of unlimited debt, unlimited taxation, and unlimited centralization of power in Washington.

Nick Dranias is President and Executive Director of the Compact for America Educational Foundation. Please visit their website at www.CompactforAmerica.org.

Don’t Give Your Money to Another Government-Run Hospital – Vote NO on 480!

Friends and supporters,

We are pleased to announce the launch of the first NO on Proposition 480 TV ad today.

Proposition 480 would impose a $1.6 billion tax increase on Maricopa County property owners for a new government run, county hospital. Many believe that the price tag for what amounts to a blank check is too high for a special district with a relatively narrow mission.

Supporters of Prop 480 don’t want to talk about the price tag. Neither do they want to explain how they are spending $600,000 of taxpayer money to run a feel good branding campaign in conjunction with the referendum campaign.

If you agree that Prop 480 is a bad idea at a bad time, please forward this ad to your friends via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or other social media outlets. Please help us get out the word that the price of Prop 480 is just too high.

Click below to view the ad, coming to a TV near you. Also please go to our website,VoteNOon480.com for additional information.

Net Metering Tax Credits Discriminate

Recent legislation providing solar tax credits for residential homeowners has allowed billionaires, corporations, and Wall Street financiers to profit at the expense of working class Americans.  Solar corporations leasing panels to home owners, rather than selling, have reaped the financial benefit of solar tax credits intended for home owners to the tune of hundreds of millions.  These tax credits to solar companies have boosted dividends for their shareholders at taxpayers’ expense, while panel-leasing home owners get no immediate financial benefit.

meterWorse.  Solar tax credits discriminate against lower income communities.  Group housing, where many lower income families reside, cannot install residential solar panels, and are therefore not eligible from the get-go for these special tax credits.

Arizona is subsidizing the solar industry with $1.2 billion on residential solar, and not a dime goes to the state’s lowest income sectors – yet, another reason not to have discriminatory solar tax credits.

Further, after residential panels are installed at huge costs to taxpayers, the system of net metering goes to work, also discriminating against the working class.  Owners of solar panels can buy power from the grid as needed, or ship surplus power back to the grid when they produce more than they use.  Under net metering, solar panel owners, however, avoid paying for the service and repairs to maintain the grid.  These costs to maintain the grid are then shifted to non-solar users, placing a higher financial burden on this group, resulting in a disproportionate share of the burden falling on the aforementioned lower income sectors.

In Arizona, taxpayer subsidized solar panel ownership has led to the adding of “environmental programs cost adjustment factor” and renewable energy fees on utility bills, raising financial burdens for all non-solar users, lower income families included.  For example, the city of Scottsdale has a median family income of over $92,000.  Just in the past 5 years, they have had over 1,200 solar installations, which are eligible for state and federal subsidies.  In contrast, an area in south Phoenix with 29,000 residents and an average income of $41,000 has only 45 residential solar installations.  This is just an example, but the statistics are undeniable:  Taxpayer subsidies go to wealthier communities by a factor of 26 times more than lower income communities.

Regressive solar tax credits should end immediately.  Why have we chosen one industry over another?  And worse, we’ve chosen a discriminatory industry that keeps lower income communities down by unfairly forcing them to pay for others solar installation and operation.  Under any sun, these policies are just plain wrong.

Joe Galli

Former Executive Director – North Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce

Take The Quiz! Who Said It?

Who Said It!

It’s time to have a little fun and see if our readers can tell the difference between Fred DuVal and Scott Smith. We’ve pulled a number of quotes from or about each candidate on issues important to Arizonans. We’ll post the issue followed by the quote and then let the readers guess who said it. (And no using Google search to cheat!)

COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM

A. “…we cannot continue with a broken system that keeps millions of people living in the shadows of our communities.”

B. “he supports driver’s licenses for young immigrants awarded work permits under a new Obama administration program. He also praised the U.S. Senate’s Gang of Eight for working on comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

DREAMERS

A. “My first action as governor will be to rescind Gov Brewer’s Executive Order against driver’s licenses for Dreamers.”

B. “The federal government’s half-steps on immigration are not doing us any favors, taking us further from the goal. These side discussions, such as the driver’s licenses discussion, are a distraction. The end game is a fair and just immigration process that includes allowing our DREAMERS to become legal.”

SB 1070

A. On Gov. Brewer “I think she got 1070 wrong…

B. “It’s not exactly the law I would have written.”

COMMON CORE

A. “I believe (Arizona’s) College and Career Ready Standards (Common Core) accomplish these objectives, and I support their implementation.”

B. “I fully support Common Core and applaud Governor Brewer’s efforts to ensure the implementation of these vital standards despite opposition from some members of her party.”

C. “And what we have proposed here, whether you call it common core or ready achievement or whatever, I don’t care the label you put on it, we have to do it. …”

D. “Rather than a top-down, one-size-fits-all, Washington, D.C. approach to education, Common Core is a perfect example of how states can lead the way on improving education.”

OBAMACARE MEDICAID EXPANSION

A. “It would be a terrible mistake not to expand Medicaid on federal dollars.”

B. “I supported the governors Medicaid restoration because she did what was best for Arizona.”

TAXES / BUDGET

A. “After the massive cuts to K-12 schools, defunding all-day kindergarten, and ending the once-cent sales tax that funds our children’s schools, the last thing the folks at the Capitol should do is to set another tripwire on our children’s road to opportunity.”

B. “Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a state legislator cutting spending without raising taxes.”

ENVIRONMENT

A. “It’s the Senate’s turn to pass energy-climate legislation.”

B. “I welcome the opportunity to join with 1,000 of my peers in this truly bipartisan effort to improve not only the environment, but our communities and our nation.”

POLITICAL LEANINGS:

A. “…a self-described moderate, said serving in the House would be a “wonderful opportunity to reach across the divide.”

B. “He will allow himself to be called a progressive, but takes pains to note the lowercase ‘p’…”

 

Feel free to post your answers in the comments!

Tempe’s Private Little Fiscal Cliff

By Michael Gibbs

Lemmings

What Tempe Council believes

I can’t think of the right adjective to use. Discouraged? Shocked? Appalled? Dismayed? Incredulous? That’s how this week’s Tempe City Council candidate forum left me feeling.

At one point candidate Matt Papke responded to a question by expressing concern about the city’s finances. Several current members of the council dismissed the issue by telling the audience that, by law, the budget has to be balanced. The attitude went beyond nonchalant–they implied that the city’s debt is a GOOD thing.

When Papke showed that in the last ten years alone Tempe’s debt has increased three-fold to nearly three quarters of a billion dollars his opponents made fun of him and one even asked if he had a mortgage on his house. Another stated flatly that you cannot run a city without incurring debt.

It’s this kind of thinking that has driven the entire nation to a $17 trillion dollar deficit, the only difference being that Tempe doesn’t have a printing press in the basement to make more dollars! No wonder Tempe is digging an ever deeper hole despite having the highest property taxes in the valley–it’s run by a bunch of profligates with no regard for their fiscal responsibilities. The spendthrifts in Detroit must be very proud to have Tempe following in their footsteps.

New Website! Exposing the Obamacare Republicans!

Obamacare Republicans

The ObamacareRepublicans.com website is officially up!

Find out which Republicans voted for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and still support forcing Obamacare on all Arizonans.

And please donate to the effort to get the message out!

Did Heather Carter Vote to Raise our Taxes?

By Jose Borajero

Heather Carter

Heather Carter

Shortly, the Arizona Supreme Court will be ruling on whether the Medicaid tax imposed by the Democrats, aided and abetted by Representative Heather Carter and eight other Republicans in the House of Representatives is really a tax or something else, like a fee. The only question that will be resolved by the court is whether that move was legal or not. It will not determine whether it was good or bad. We all know that the mere fact something is legal does not automatically make it good, or desirable.

Whether we call it a tax, or something else, like a fee, an assessment, a contribution, an investment, or any of a myriad euphemistic terms that big government advocates use to disguise taxes, the fact remains that Heather Carter voted for bills that increase the amount of money that moves from the pockets of the taxpayers to the pockets of the government.

That fact is reflected in the results of the legislator evaluations done by three conservative leaning organizations.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP): This organization routinely keeps track of how legislators vote on issues having to do with economic matters, like taxation, spending, education, etc. (scorecard)

Goldwater Institute: These folks evaluate legislator performance across a wide variety of subjects, including tax & budget, education, constitutional government, and regulation.

National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB): This is a watchdog group for small businesses, which account for the vast majority of jobs in this country. They evaluate legislators on whether or not their votes enhance small businesses ability to operate in free and open market. (scorecard)

Currently in Arizona, we have 17 Republicans in the Senate and 36 Republicans in the House of Representatives, for a total of 43 Republican legislators. Let us see how Heather Carter was scored by all three organizations.

ORGANIZATION SCORE RANK
Americans for Prosperity – 48%  or 39th out of 43
Goldwater Institute – 61% or 35th out of 43
National Federation of Independent Businesses – 75% or 43rd out of 43

Conclusion: Heather Carter is a friend of Big Government and an enemy of the tax payer. People should keep that in mind when deciding whether to vote for her or for her challenger(s).

 

A Priority for the Next Governor

NFIB/Arizona's Farrell Quinlan

NFIB/Arizona’s Farrell Quinlan

Three of Arizona’s five Democrat members of Congress last week joined all four of their Republican colleagues from the state to accomplish what a similar bipartisan majority in the Arizona Legislature did earlier this year: It loaded a badly needed shot in the arm for the small-business owners who generate almost every new job in the state and nation.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to make permanent a tax provision that would allow small businesses to write off up to $500,000 in new equipment purchases, and some improvements to real property, instead of depreciating the costs over time. H.R. 4457, titled America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014, would provide small businesses with expensing levels that are permanent, predictable and at a level adequate to their needs.

This change to Section 179 of the federal tax code, which overwhelmingly passed the House on a 272-144 vote, would prevent the expensing level to fall all the way to $25,000 in 2014, after being at $500,000 from 2010 through 2013. It also indexes the level to inflation. In addition, the House also passed a bill that eases the tax burden on small businesses that change from taxable C-corporate status to S-corporate status.

A quick sample of the small-business owners benefitting from the H.R. 4457 expensing levels would include:

  • Your local pizza shop owner who might want to install new ovens and countertops that cost $100,000. He could deduct these capital improvements the same year he makes them, instead of waiting for the current 39 years to get his full depreciation.
  • A farmer considering equipment purchases of $300,000 could do so with much more ease, knowing it could all be deducted the year she bought it, instead of only $25,000 of it the first year.
  • A contractor looking to buy two work vehicles costing $60,000 would be more inclined to do so. Under current law, only $35,000 could be deducted—spread over five years—instead of all of it immediately.

On June 12, Arizona Democrats Ron Barber, Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema joined Republicans Paul Gosar, Trent Franks, Matt Salmon and David Schweikert in supporting this pro-jobs legislation. Congressmen Raul Grijalva and Ed Pastor, both Democrats, voted against H.R. 4457. The measure now goes to the U.S. Senate for its consideration.

Earlier this year, a similar tax relief act, House Bill 2664, passed the Arizona Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. The legislation sponsored by state Rep. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) would have created an immediate state income tax allowance, similar to federal Section 179 expensing for qualifying business equipment investments valued up to $500,000.

In a tragic misreading of the needs of Arizona’s economy, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed HB 2664 because “the money would be better utilized” on her spending priorities. Undaunted, NFIB is committed to vigorously lobbying Arizona’s next governor and the new Legislature next session to finally realize our own $500,000 allowance to spur new job creation.

Last week’s strong bipartisan House vote to pass H.R. 4457 is very encouraging to small business, especially as demonstrated by the votes of Arizona’s congressional delegation. If Congress and the president do succeed in making it federal law, Arizona’s next governor must match it. If Washington fails, then establishing the small-business expensing allowance in Arizona’s tax code will be all the more critical.

Farrell Quinlan is Arizona state director for the National Federation of Independent Business.

Will Kyrsten Sinema break her silence on Lois Lerner’s “lost” emails?

Will Sinema Help Uncover the Truth Behind the IRS Scandal or Will She Help the Administration Cover Up Another Scandal?

Kyrsten Sinema

Kyrsten Sinema

WASHINGTON – Last week, the IRS sent a letter to the House Ways and Means committee explaining that they lost Lois Lerner’s emails from January 2009 to April 2011 due to a “computer crash.” These “missing emails” demonstrate the lengths the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats will go in order to cover up the IRS’ effort to target tax-exempt conservative groups based on their political beliefs.

Sinema’s silence solidifies the fact that she has become a Washington insider and is out of touch with Arizona taxpayers. Instead of demanding answers and holding the IRS accountable, Sinema is helping the Administration cover up a scandal in hopes of political support for her re-election.

“First Lois Lerner refused to comply with Congressional investigations and now her emails are ‘missing’. That just doesn’t pass the smell test,” said NRCC Communications Director Andrea Bozek. “Kyrsten Sinema has the opportunity to protect Arizona taxpayers from being wrongfully targeted by holding the Administration accountable and condemning the IRS officials responsible for this scandal.”

IRS claims Lois Lerner’s e-mails are lost due to a computer crash.

(Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, The IRS claims that Lois Lerner’s e-mails were wiped out by a ‘computer crash’, The Washington Post, 6/15/14)