The Maricopa County Republican Party Town Hall/Fundraiser

18 Apr 2009 11:07 pm
Posted by: Donna

Hi y’all! Finally getting a chance to report on Thursday’s forum at the Scottsdale Library. I was supposed to do it yesterday, I know, but I didn’t get a chance to sit and sort it all out. I guess the Republicans are embarassed that they attempted to turn an open-to-the-public budget forum into a fundraiser because the announcement has been removed from their website but here’s what it said before:

Thursday, April 16, 2009 ~~ 5:45 to 8:45 pm

A panel discussion on the Arizona State Budget will feature Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Russell Pearce, House Appropriations Committee Chairman John Kavanagh, Senate President Pro Tempore Thayer Verschoor, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Gray…and others yet to be confirmed.

A $5 donation (at the door) is requested to defray venue costs. Reservations are not required. This event is open to the public. For more information contact: Sandy Doty at (480) 883-1097

A question and answer period with the audience will follow. The legislators would appreciate your candid input on your concerns during the question and answer period. Come prepared for a spirited discussion!

About the event, what can I say? I had wanted to live blog but I couldn’t get a signal in the auditorium so I took notes. County Chair Rob Haney moderated, reading written questions submitted by a mostly unfriendly crowd. A big group of teachers and public ed supporters showed up, wearing pink to signify the hundreds of pink slips that gone out to teachers, with many more in the offing. Also in attendance were several state employees, many of whom work with highly vulnerable populations like the very poor and the disabled. Some disabled people, caregivers, and disability activists were in the crowd as well.

Republicans are nothing if not utterly consistent in their unwillingness to take the blame for anything, ever. The current deficit situation is the fault of reckless spending, Janet Napolitano, irresponsible borrowing, and voter protected funds. Certainly not a decade and a half of ill-advised tax cuts. Nope. No way. Matter of fact, the solution to the crisis is, guess what? More tax cuts! And oh my lord did they whine. The stimulus sucks because the meany-butt federal government is putting conditions on it. The voters suck because they vote for funds for certain things that their betters (AKA legislators) can’t redirect to other areas.

John Kavanaugh was the most entertaining of the lot. He is deeply, deeply concerned about raising taxes. Deeply. Especially on the wealthy. His voice cracked when he talked about the horrific prospect of Arizona’s wealthiest citizens paying a couple percent more in taxes, while admitting that he was not one of them. Which means he’s going to get a tax cut from Obama. He must be planning to buy a plumbing business in the near future. He got even more animated when the subject of higher ed came up. He accused parents of “overreacting” and ASU President Michael Crow of “running a scam”.

Pearce, unsurprisingly, complained about illegals and anchor babies. What is always surprising about him is that, despite his reputation as a knuckledragger in Dem circles, he is an articulate and compelling speaker. No, he really is.

Chuck Gray thinks that voter initiatives need to be done away with. As an example he cited the medical marijuana initiative passed in 1996. Apparently, it was inconsistent with federal statutes regarding drugs. (Hmm, so I guess they’re going to get right on overturning Arizona’s longstanding abortion statute, which is inconsistent with federal law, aren’t they?) Then he went after the minimum wage initiative, while allowing that no legislator would run on overturning Prop 105 (which prevents the Lege from gutting voter approved initiatives). What was necessary, he said, was someone with “big money” to craft a message. I’m sure Chuck knows plenty of people with big money, but good luck selling that message.

It was clear that they really, really, really want to get their hands on voter initiative protected funds, and especially Clean Elections money. But Chuck maintained that no one would put their name on a bill that would let them do that. No one…Until…

Russell Pearce announced that he HAD put his name on such a bill this session!

Don’t want to leave Sen. Verschoor out. My favorite Thayer moment was when he claimed that there was no such thing as corporate taxes, in response to a query about why we couldn’t raise them. Why not? Because when you raise the taxes on corporations they pass the cost onto consumers! During the open mic session, I was dying to take a place in line to inquire as to why corporate tax cuts never seem to lead to lower prices for consumers, but there were more pressing questions that needed to be asked.

Whatever. Here’s what I want to know: There have been several recent forums where citizens have confronted legislators, including this latest Republican Town Hall. But where are the business leaders who assiduously lobby lawmakers to cut, cut, cut their tax burden, damn the ensuing cost to the school system and social services? Has anyone seen Martin Schultz (APS) or anyone from Intel at these forums? Where was the Chamber of Commerce? They’re certainly not shy about showing up at Legislature to demand tax breaks. Why can’t they face the people those tax cuts are going to affect? Why didn’t Senators Gray, Kavanaugh, Pearce, and Verschoor invite some of those folks to explain exactly why they need MORE tax cuts now?

4 Comments

  1. Comment by todd on April 19, 2009 9:56 am

    I think you are really on to something with this question about business leaders. These are the same people who want to get rid of the education equalization tax and help fund groups like the Goldwater Institute yet like to claim they are committed to the community.

  2. Comment by Donna on April 19, 2009 10:34 am

    todd, the question I submitted was “How do you justify the permanent repeal of the state equalization tax with such a large deficit?” Of course, it was met with derision by the Senators because, you know, if we raise any taxes it will lead to massive job losses. Wait…we’ve been cutting taxes for years, especially for the wealthy and corporations, and how many jobs have we lost recently?

  3. Comment by todd on April 19, 2009 8:09 pm

    Donna – good question but really lame answers. I really find this study release by ASU ecomonists last month. http://wpcarey.asu.edu/seidman/reports/UnivEconomist/Summary_3-09.pdf
    It shows that tax increases in decreases over the last 30 years have not had any noticeable impact on the state economic growth.

    Also it notes that state and local taxes account for less than 2% of operating income for most businesses. Hard to believe the equalization tax is going to really put anyone out of a job.

    I hear the Chamber of Commerce has come out for the sales tax increase as long as the equalization tax is repealed. This seems really unacceptable to replace a somewhat progressive tax with a terribly regressive one all to not lose jobs which aren’t going to be lost anyway.

  4. Comment by Simon says: on April 19, 2009 9:49 pm

    It is not just education that the business community appreciates when it comes to state government. They know they get a lot from the state for things they might have to pay for if they did business in another state.
    They just don’t want to be the ones to pay for it. So “don’t cut education spending but do repeal the equalization rate”.

    Oh, and about Russell Pearce’s eloquence: I have heard him speak many many times. After the first couple sentences I start to think about what is for dinner because his voice sounds exactly like the worn out speaker at the Jack in the Box drive thru at 4 Am. So I guess I couldn’t say if he is eloquent or not. But I sure respect you for managing to concentrate on what he is saying way longer than I ever could.

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