I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Governing Arizona Shocking Report

Report tracks 30 years of Arizona spending and revenue

Report tracks 30 years of Arizona spending and revenue

by Mary Jo Pitzl - Nov. 17, 2009 12:33 PM
The Arizona Republic

Arizonans would pay the state lower income and sales taxes, but higher property taxes, if the taxing structure of the 1980s were in place today.

And if it were 1980 all over again, the state universities would get a bigger slice of the state's budget pie, while health, welfare and prison spending would be smaller.

These are the conclusions of a 30-year analysis of state revenue and spending released today.

The report was prepared for the Governing Arizona conference, which has drawn lawmakers, business groups and lobbyists to a meeting today at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Phoenix.

The point is to give lawmakers and those who influence public policy a longer-term view of state revenue and spending. Typically, the Legislature works on a year-to-year basis.

The report comes as lawmakers plan to convene later today in a special session to whittle down the state's $2 billion deficit.

The report, Understanding Arizona's Fiscal History, traces changes in the tax structure since 1980. It was authored by Alan Maguire, who heads his own consulting firm, the Maguire Company, and has advised Arizona governors and lawmakers for decades.

The report showed that, over the years, lawmakers eliminated the state property tax, shifting that burden to local governments.

While the property tax declined from 6 percent of state revenues to zero, the sales tax, already the state's dominant source of income, grew to 56 percent of total tax collections from 47 percent. During that 30-year period, the sales tax grew from 4 cents on the dollar to the current 5.6 cents. Gov. Jan Brewer is asking lawmakers to enact a temporary one-cent increase in the rate to bridge the state through its fiscal downturn.

The state income tax also grew modestly as a share of state collections, to 37 percent today from 34 percent in 1980, according to the report. During that time, lawmakers have cut the personal income tax several times. In contrast, corporate income taxes contributed less to the state's general fund, with their share dropping 2 percent over the time period.

Maguire's report documents 51 “notable” changes to the state tax code, including reductions in the personal income tax in the mid-1990s and the middle of this decade, and the voter-approved exemption of food from the state sales tax in 1980. It does not include dozens of other changes that resulted in smaller shifts in the state tax structure.

The report also tracks the shift in where the state is spending the dollars it collects.

Universities have been the big losers, absorbing an 8 percent drop in their share of state spending while spending on prisons increased 5 percent and health and welfare budgets went up 10 percent. Much of the health-and-welfare spending, however, is due to the state's decision in the early 1980s to take over health care for the indigent, a function that previously had been done by the counties.

Funding for K-12 education remained level over the 30-year span.

Participants at the Governing Arizona forum are expected to discuss actions the Legislature could take to resolve the current-year deficit as well as the shortfalls projected for coming years.

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