Education is vital to the future of our state. As of Sept 2015 Arizona has 3 schools graded in the top ten nationwide, with a fourth school at number 17. This is a great start and one we can build on to obtain success in all of our schools. Education is the largest expenditure in the Arizona budget. In traditional public schools, we spend, on average, $7,200 per capita with public charter schools spending an average of $1,000 less.
Our children are our future so it is extremely important that we provide a strong educational environment for them. Education is important to businesses, both the ones that are already here and the ones looking to relocate. Their current employees won’t relocate here if their children won’t receive a good education. Their future employees will more than likely come from the local schools.
Arizona is one of the leading states in parent choice for educating children. Parents can choose between traditional public schools, charter public schools, private schools and home schooling. This is good for the parent and the child creating competition between the schools which creates better schools when they compete for your business.
Teachers pay should be based on their job performance and not seniority. When a teacher does a great job they should be rewarded accordingly. Administration, buildings and maintenance are important, but we need to ensure that the majority of our education dollars go to the classroom.
Education is mainly funded by property taxes on private lands. Arizona’s schools could be better funded without raising taxes providing we could get more of our land from the federal government. Currently the average land in Maricopa County is taxed at 47 cents per acre while the federal government only pays about 14 cents per acre. Increasing private ownership could triple our education tax revenue.
In summary I favor school vouchers so that the money follows the student to whatever school they are enrolled. Teachers pay should reflect the teachers performance and not seniority. Arizona's trust fund land should be sold and much of the land in Arizona is controlled by the federal government and should be given back to the state to be sold and the money put in the trust fund to be spent on education.
Grow Jobs and Economy
Arizona job growth comes from existing businesses, businesses relocating here and the creation of new businesses. This year my wife and I created our own small business so now I have experienced the difficulty of navigating the red tape of high regulation. High taxes and fees as well as overly burdensome regulations make it difficult to start and maintain a new business, yet most jobs come from these new business creations. We must make it easier to start new business as well as attractive for our current businesses to grow and thrive and for other businesses to relocate here if we are to have strong job growth.
Arizona not only competes with other states, but also globally for our business growth and exports. Maintaining an environment for business growth such as low corporate taxes and reasonable regulation is important, but it does not end there. We must maintain good highways and rail systems for product shipping.
Education is another area that needs improvement if Arizona is going to improve its economy as stated in the education section of the website. The current Legislature and Governor have passed a bill that will end the lawsuit of past funding and put billions of new dollars into education, but that bill must be passed by the voters on May 17th, 2016 to become law. Some of the money will come from the education trust fund of Arizona state lands which some say will hurt the future of the trust fund. From what I have seen of the new law the trust fund will continue to grow and infuse new money into education as well as end the lawsuit against the state. This is a win win situation and I am for it.
In a recent report it was reported that Arizona will have a $62 billion shortfall of transportation funds over the next 20 years. Higher education institutions and Child Protection Services are also wanting much more funding as well as several others. These are big problems looming on the horizon and must be dealt with without raising taxes. Duplicated services provided by different government departments need to be eliminated. Some services need to be streamlined, outsourced to the private sector or eliminated.
In summary we need smaller government, lower taxes and less burdensome regulations to grow jobs and help our economy. Education needs improvement and our highway and rail system infrastructure must be funded. With more and better paying jobs our tax base will improve without raising taxes while continuing the current plans to reduce corporate taxes.
Limit Government Spending and Taxes
Unlike the federal government Arizona must balance the state budget every year and it must do this by controlling the spending or adjusting the revenue (taxes and fees) since it can not print money. Starting in 1980 the Arizona Constitution limits the states spending to a maximum of 7.41 percent of personal income. The actual current rate is 5.54 percent and has never reached the maximum allowed. If the people of the state are doing well the state spending can go up, however if the income level goes down the spending must follow accordingly.
Income tax in Arizona is a progressive tax based on income. There are 5 brackets ranging from 2.5% ($10,000 income) to 4.54% ($150,000 income). I believe that Arizona should join the many states who are eliminating their state income tax and replacing it with a fair tax based on consumer spending. Arizona should no longer tax production, but rather tax consumption. This would insure that even if money is obtained illegally it will still be taxed when spent. I estimate that this fair tax would be around 6 percent with certain items such as food being exempt.
Sales tax (Arizona Transaction Privilege Tax) is set at 5.6 percent at the state level which ranks 28th in the country. Each county then adds on their rate which ranges from .5 percent to 1.125 percent. Then each municipality can tack on their rate. The average rate paid in Arizona is 8.17 percent ranking 11th highest in the country. The state does limit the maximum tax rate a municipality can apply to 5.3 percent and the average in Arizona is 2.5 percent. The 8.17 percent average is too high and perhaps the maximum levels that the counties and local municipalities can apply should be adjusted.
As a state, Arizona does not apply a property tax, that is done at the county and local levels and the rate varies in each county and municipality. I do not see a need to change this at this time. If any change is needed it may be to include a maximum rate not to be exceeded.
In summary my tax policy would be to eliminate the state income tax and replace with a fair consumption tax exempting items such as food, clothing, medical care, prescription drugs etc. Counties and local municipalities should have a maximum sales and property tax rate.