While a temporary sales tax increase would help address Arizona’s budget crisis, a long-term solution will depend on attracting firms that offer high-paying jobs, Gov. Jan Brewer told business leaders Nov. 4.
“Our future pivots on our ability to create jobs, better jobs, permanent jobs and more of them,” Brewer said at a Greater Phoenix Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
“We need to create an economic environment that is stable, predictable and dependable,” she said.
Lawmakers and Brewer are preparing for a special session to address an estimated $2 billion hole in the budget for this fiscal year. Rebuffed by lawmakers so far, Brewer is pushing for the Legislature to let voters decide on her plan for a temporary sales tax increase to maintain critical services.
“My plan all along has been to reduce expenditures, but we won’t solve our problems, our budget deficit, nor will we grow Arizona through cuts alone,” Brewer said.
The governor said the tax increase wouldn’t put an undue burden on any one group of businesses.
With more than 90 percent of Arizona businesses classified as small businesses, the state also needs to attract larger companies by rethinking its tax structure, Brewer said.
“We must examine how we treat them in property taxes, in business personal property taxes and capital gains taxes,” Brewer said.
In addition to rethinking the tax system, Brewer said, there needs to be an incentive structure to reduce costs for health care and provide health insurance options without state mandates.
“We simply cannot afford for the government to be the health insurer for Arizona,” Brewer said. “We need employers creating good jobs with healthy wages and good benefits.”
Brewer said Arizona needs fewer “hidden taxes” created by government regulation for business to thrive.
“We do not need regulations and the heavy hand of government strangling business with needless costs,” Brewer said.
Even though the state is facing serious economic challenges, Brewer said she hopes business leaders will see that leaders aren’t sitting still.
“I believe we are seizing the challenge and seizing it boldly and wisely,” she said.