Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and Sen. Carolyn Allen (R-Scottsdale) recently distributed to the press a study released in the February issue of Governing Magazine. Titled "The Way We Tax," the study rates state tax systems for adequacy and fairness on a scale from one to four stars.
But Goldwater Institute tax and budget studies director Stephen Slivinski argues that the study has a strong bias in favor of higher taxation and higher spending. "The authors are entitled to their own point of view," Slivinski said, "but no one should pretend that the Governing study is unbiased. In fact, it's far from being ideologically neutral."
Slivinski made the following observations with regard to the Governing study:
- The average adequacy score for the five states with the highest tax burdens is 3.2 stars. The average fairness score for those states is 2.8 stars. The top five states in the study were Delaware, New Mexico, Hawaii, Vermont, and Minnesota, all of which have high overall tax burdens as a percentage of personal income.
- By contrast, the five states with the lowest tax burdens-Colorado, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas-score an average of 1.6 stars for adequacy and 1.8 stars for fairness. Three of those states don't have income taxes: Texas, Tennessee, and New Hampshire. The study does award South Dakota high marks for its all-inclusive sales tax, making it the only state without an income tax to score well. But it's clear that Governing prefers higher taxes.
- The Governing study scorns citizen attempts to control taxes and spending. According to Governing, Colorado's innovative and successful Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) has "crippled" the state and "strangled officials' ability to raise taxes by adding to the state's constitution the requirement that voter approval be obtained for any tax increase." In reality, the Colorado economy has flourished since voters passed TABOR in 1992.
- In another false assertion with regard to the Colorado expenditure limit, the Governing study states, "[Lifting the spending cap] was tried. It failed." But in the 2001 election, Colorado voters approved Amendment 23, which raised the limit to allow for more education spending.
Slivinski is coauthor, with Stephen Moore, of the "Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors," published biennially by the Cato Institute. The 2002 report card is available at: http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-454es.html.
Press Contact: (602) 462-5000.