Rep. David Cook has always fought to protect the interests of the residents of Pinal and Gila counties, whether by securing resources to build roads or to develop water supplies, and we are very grateful to see his hard work to ensure that any tax reduction package passed by the Legislature is designed so that the state remains on solid financial footing going into the future.
We have been watching the negotiations over the tax package with great interest since we became aware of the proposed $1.5 billion income tax reduction plan. Though counties do not share in the state’s income tax revenues as cities do, we have a deep interest in the state’s structural financial stability.
History has shown that when the state has financial shortfalls, the Legislature will readily access county tax dollars to help balance its books. For example, since 2008, the Legislature addressed revenue deficits by passing laws that billed Gila County $5.8 million and Pinal County $27.8 million to support state agencies, which are obligations of the state general fund.
These were local tax dollars that would have been used for direct support to local constituents, road maintenance or for creating the ability to lower local property tax rates. If the state goes too far in reducing its capability to meet its obligations, we fear the state will again turn to using county resources to balance the state budget.
Financial instability in state government is not good for our constituents and, simply, not good government. To be sure, current state revenues are significant as we come out of the pandemic. However, economists have cautioned that some of these revenues are attributable to the massive infusion of federal money into our economy. And, as Rep. Cook has pointed out, the state still has substantial debt from the last recession, along with unmet capital and water development needs that must be addressed.
We are very concerned that in the Legislature’s desire to do something “big and bold,” what will get lost is doing things right. Therefore, we applaud Rep. Cook’s leadership to shape a tax package that strikes a wise balance — providing meaningful tax relief, reducing state debt and ensuring the state has the resources to meet its obligations to Arizonans into the future.
Steve Miller, R-Pinal, and Tim Humphrey, R-Gila, are county supervisors.