Years after a slow recovery from the Great Recession began, the economy is roaring under President Trump's corporate tax cut and reduced regulation. Employment is at historic highs, and with that, the state treasury is brimming with cash. This follows several years when cut after cut had been made.
The Legislature has convened its 2020 session and the news is mostly good. Last year legislators enacted a law to collect taxes on internet sales following a federal court decision that allows that. One estimate says that state tax collections for the fiscal year ending June 30 will be $65 million more than the state even projected. Part of the new collections are some that would have been owed under the state's "use tax" previously. However, that required voluntary payment by purchasers, and many of them did not even know they owed it or simply didn't pay. There is a move afoot to cut taxes because of this increase, but it's basically an amount that residents would have been paying all along if they were buying in stores, so the state should retain it.
Meanwhile, Gov. Doug Ducey last week called for restoration of the K-12 education category called Additional Assistance two years ahead of schedule. That would be $135 million more from that category next year, and $371 million more than four years ago. And that is in addition to previous restoration of capital and other funding.
All this calls into question the announcement of another shot at the Invest in Education Initiative, which was knocked off the 2018 ballot by a court decision. It would be a 3.5% income tax surcharge on the wealthiest Arizonans. They certainly are easy targets, because they have resources far above what most people have. But such acts have a way of damaging the economy that everyone enjoys, and there is something wrong about a movement to tax "other people's money" without any pain for those passing the new tax.
Arizona education certainly has been underfunded, but that is changing. And that calls for a realistic mindset in looking at new taxes.