Who is responsible for raising your property taxes?

AFP

Dear Arizona Taxpayer:

Maricopa County Treasurer Hos Hoskins made headlines with the policy letter he included with recent property tax bills for Maricopa County residents.  (Note for those living outside of the “Great State of Maricopa”: this does apply to you, as well.)   Hoskins has re-opened an interesting policy debate about the extent to which property tax burdens have been shifted from business property taxpayers to residential property taxpayers (or vice-versa, depending on your point of view).  We have included some links below about that debate.

Setting aside the debate about the burden shift, Hoskins made a claim that is very counterproductive to the efforts of property taxpayers to fight for tax relief.   Multiple times in his letter, Hoskins made the following claim: “Voicing your opinion to anyone other than your legislators will change nothing.”

That claim is highly misleading.

Consider just a few examples from your property tax bill.  If you look closely, you will see several line-item levy amounts from several different local government taxing authorities: your K-12 school districts, your community college district, your city government, your county government, and multiple special taxing districts.  Each of those taxing districts have authority, completely independent of the state Legislature, to raise (or more rarely, lower) your property tax levy.

(Note: Always focus on the levy, which is the actual number of dollars you must pay, rather than the rate.  If local officials brag to you that they have lowered property tax rates, hold onto your wallet and ask them what is going to happen to your actual levy.)

Many Arizona school districts and municipalities have put budget override and bond measures on your November 3 ballot.  If passed by voters, those measures will increase your property tax bill.  Those measures were not placed on your ballot by the Arizona Legislature.  They are on your ballot, and driving up your tax bill, at the sole discretion of local elected officials.  Your school district board members are under no legal (or in our opinion, moral) obligation to try to push for an override.

For example, Phoenix Union school board members could have decided that spending $9,627 per student  (in current expenditures, not counting capital and other costs) is enough.  Even without the override, Phoenix Union will spend more than $9,000 per student – enough money to put two teachers in every classroom of 25 students and pay each of those teachers $75,000 per year.   Instead of trying to raise taxes via an override, the Phoenix Union board members could cut excess administration and other waste.  See our Phoenix Union flyer HERE, and contact us at bwitbeck@afphq.org if you want us to send you a flyer for your own school district.

We as citizens and taxpayers must hold the local officials in our cities, counties and school districts accountable for the dollars they choose to spend.  See AFP’s Local Government Scorecard to learn more about holding your local officials accountable.

Back to the interesting debate on the business-residential property tax levy shift…  For a defense of the shift and Proposition 117 (which passed in 2012), go here for the response of the Arizona Tax Research Association to the Hoskins letter.  Or go here for Senator Debbie Lesko’s response.

Boaz Witbeck
Arizona Policy Analyst
Americans for Prosperity

Wendy Rogers: Phoenix VA Situation Requires Action

Wendy Rogers

When I heard at least 40 veterans had lost their lives waiting for care on a “secret list” at the Phoenix Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital, I was absolutely shocked.

Since then, no action has been taken to reduce the backlog or reverse the policies which placed veterans in harm’s way.  Care is not improving for veterans.  I know, because my husband and I are veterans and the wait and runaround at Phoenix VA are just as long-standing this week as they have been.  Instead, Congress keeps “studying” the problem and bureaucrats keep pointing the finger.

The United States of America has sunk to its lowest ebb by treating veterans this way.

As in any emergency, we must apply triage while fixing the long-term problem.  The top priority is to care for veterans NOW.

  • The VA should transfer primary care providers from northern tier VA facilities with adequate staff, in order to treat Phoenix VA’s backlog.
  • Concurrently, Phoenix VA should immediately hire 20 additional primary care providers, expediting the federal background investigation process from six weeks down to one week.
  • State licensed local primary care providers should be allowed to volunteer their services at Phoenix VA to ensure timely treatment for veterans.

Phoenix VA represents the perfect storm.  Over the years, northern tier veterans increasingly have moved south to use the Phoenix VA.  However, today’s patient load is based on a 2-year look-back funding model which is seriously flawed.  Phoenix VA’s rolls also have increased due to a sagging economy, as well as flight from Medicare and Obamacare.  Every one of these trends presented red flags, yet the leadership ignored them.  Consequently, brave veterans have died due to broken promises.

“Relieved of Command” is the phrase which best describes what should happen to the Secretary of the VA down to the multi-department leadership at the Phoenix VA Hospital. Being responsible for the lives of others means the person in charge bears full accountability for lost lives.  We in the military operate under that principle, as must the leadership of the VA.  This in fact is why the American Legion, with whom I agree, has called for the Secretary of the VA to resign.

With quick, decisive action, we can fix the problems with the Phoenix VA to ensure our veterans have access to healthcare.  Over time, we can make long-term fixes.  This is what we do, because we are America.

Lt Col Wendy Rogers (ret) is the Republican candidate for Congress from AZ-09.  She is a 5th-generation career veteran and was one of the first 100 women pilots in today’s Air Force.

 

Wendy Rogers Statement On Kyrsten Sinema And The Phoenix VA Hospital

Wendy Rogers

(PHOENIX, AZ) – Wendy Rogers, Republican candidate for Congress, has issued the following statement:

“Talk is cheap; unfortunately, the Phoenix VA Hospital’s representative in Congress, Kyrsten Sinema, does not seem to get that. The lives of men and women who bravely served our country are still being put in danger because Washington, DC, has become used to excuses and bureaucracy instead of action,” said Wendy Rogers.

“Getting our veterans timely access to healthcare must be the top priority. Steps can and must be taken to reduce the backlog. The Phoenix VA needs to immediately hire 20 more primary care providers, and we should ensure this is given top priority and not buried under layers of red tape. Veterans are dying as they await follow-up appointments, which is inexcusable.”

“Not one of the Phoenix VA leadership team sounded the alarm as the situation worsened, and we must hold those responsible accountable for their actions. The Phoenix VA system director must be fired, not just placed on leave,” continued Rogers. “We must also learn exactly how big the backlog is and how extensive this ‘secret list’ has been. To ensure complete transparency and to restore the public trust in the VA system, the results of the investigation and the steps being taken to fix this problem must be made public and posted online.”

Wendy Rogers is a 5th-generation U.S. military officer, having retired as a Lt. Colonel from the U.S. Air Force. She was one of the first 100 women to serve as pilots in the Air Force, and she has made defending our veterans’ access to healthcare, education, and jobs one of her top campaign priorities.