Attorney General Terry Goddard weighed in on Proposition 100 for the first time, saying he cannot support the temporary sales tax increase without an assurance from Gov. Jan Brewer that she will veto a tax cuts package being considered in the Legislature.
Goddard, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor, released a letter to Brewer on March 17 in which he urged the governor to veto H2250, a package including corporate property tax cuts that would be phased in over five years starting in 2012. The attorney general asked Brewer to sign a pledge that she would not approve tax cuts to corporations while raising taxes that he said would impose a major burden on middle class families.
“Middle-income Arizonans simply should not be asked to finance through temporary higher sales taxes a permanent non-targeted cut in corporate taxes,” Goddard wrote. “Arizonans deserve meaningful assurances from you that the increased revenues from your tax increase will truly benefit our schools, public health and public safety.”
The Brewer campaign has been pressuring Goddard over his lack of comment on how he would solve the state’s budget crisis or how he would vote on Prop. 100, which goes before voters in a May 18 special election. Shortly after Goddard released his letter, Brewer campaign spokesman Doug Cole issued a statement calling on the attorney general to come forward with a proposal.
“It’s amazing that the day after the budget is passed by the Legislature, the attorney general finally begins to talk about Arizona’s budget crisis,” Cole wrote. “Gov. Brewer has called on him since January to offer solutions to the fiscal crisis. So far – no proposals and no solutions, just criticism from Goddard and members of his party.”
House Speaker Kirk Adams, who sponsored H2250, accused Goddard of opposing economic growth, and echoed Cole’s criticism over the attorney general’s silence on the budget crisis.
“Well, at least he’s saying something,” Adams said via Twitter.
The tax cuts established by H2250 would be phased in over a five-year span starting in July 2011. If Prop. 100 passes, the temporary tax hike would be in effect for three years starting in June 2010, meaning the tax hike and the tax cuts would overlap for two years.
While the tax hike – which would increase the state sales tax rate to 6.6 percent from 5.6 – is expected to bring in about $900 million per year, the tax cuts package would cost the state about $171 million in fiscal 2012 and $363 million in fiscal 2013.
The House passed H2250 in January. The bill is on hold in the Senate Rules Committee. Brewer has not said whether she would sign the bill, but said she supports the kind of corporate tax cuts it includes.