Taxes fund important priorities needed to secure a strong economic future for all Arizonans and to create the thriving communities we all seek. But Arizona legislators and governors have worked together to cut taxes every year but one since 1990. All of those tax cuts have not delivered the jobs and economic growth that were promised. Even during this current period of strong national economic growth, many Arizonans are being left behind as our state has one of the highest poverty rates in the country and our unemployment rate is above the national average. Instead of benefitting most Arizonans, the tax cuts are draining state revenues and weakening the pillars our state needs to create a skilled workforce, better paying jobs, and livable neighborhoods. Arizona is simply not keeping up with the needs of our growing population as our general fund spending as a share of the total state economy is at its lowest point in 25 years (see graphic from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee below). Almost every state agency is operating with less money today than a decade ago. Below we build the list, showing some of the ways those cuts are impacting many of the priorities that Arizonans depend on.
The Cost of Tax Cuts:
- State funding for Arizona’s three public universities has dropped 35% since 2008.
- Arizona has failed to fund over $1 billion in school repairs forcing neighboring school districts to ask local voters to raise their property taxes to fund unmet needs.
- State funding for child care subsidies has evaporated over the past decade.
- State-funded financial aid dollars available to Arizona’s graduating high school seniors has decreased 75% since 2008.
- State funding for community colleges has been eliminated.
- Driving on roads in need of repair costs Arizona drivers an estimated $1.5 billion annually in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
- Arizona has cut millions from the Housing Trust Fund, a state resource dedicated to ensuring a sufficient supply of affordable housing for all Arizonans.
- Arizona’s Department of Water Resources has less staff than a decade ago to ensure that all Arizonans will have access to a secure long-term water supply to support Arizona families and businesses.
- Arizona remains in top 5 states with the highest incarceration rates in the nation. With over 20,000 individuals leaving Arizona prisons each year, the state spends little to rehabilitate and reduce recidivism.
- A shortage of 1,080 long-term care beds for Arizona veterans by 2020 because of Arizona’s failure to fund its share of construction costs for new facilities.
- Not enough DPS officers on the road to patrol for wrong-way drivers during the critical “night watch” period.
- 5 hours waits to vote on election day in 2016.
- Arizona government is the state’s largest employer but most state employees have not received any raises since 2013.
- Check back as we add to this list in the coming days…