Lessons from Texas on Building an Economically Healthier ArizonaPosted on October 17, 2012 | Type: Policy Report | Author: Byron Schlomach
During the recent recession, the experience of Texas provides a marked contrast to that of Arizona. Arizona’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell at more than double the rate in the nation while Texas’s GDP barely fell at all. Texas’s employment in 2011 was at an all-time high and even greater than in 2007; by contrast, Arizona’s total employment in 2011 was 10 percent below its peak. Although most of the nation has seen hard times like Arizona has since 2007, Arizona’s economic challenges did not begin with the Great Recession. In fact, Arizona’s inflation-adjusted per capita income has lagged the nation’s for decades and stands steady at around 87 percent of the national level. While Arizona’s per capita personal income growth was fifth lowest among the states, Texas’s was seventh highest despite a large influx of people without jobs.
The Myth of Education Cuts and Why Money Can't Buy an A+Posted on October 11, 2012 | Type: Policy Report | Author: Jonathan Butcher
A popular myth claims we severely underfund schools in Arizona. For years, teachers unions and other education interest groups have led a successful “crusade” in the media and the state capitol to spread this idea. “We have reduced education funding levels to the point where they’re really not sustainable for our students and our teachers,” says Ann-Eve Pedersen, who is leading a voter initiative to raise taxes to increase education funding.
Next Steps on Health Care PolicyPosted on September 25, 2012 | Type: Policy Report | Author: Byron Schlomach
The United States Supreme Court ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius effectively made state policymakers the last line of defense against the federal takeover of the nation’s health care industry. Although it ruled that the federal government cannot coerce states into expanding their Medicaid programs, the Court allowed the federal government to tax individuals who do not obtain government-approved health insurance policies. That decision, despite opening the door to federal regulation, also means that state legislatures are in a unique position to adopt meaningful health care reform policies.
A New Tax Plan for a New Economy: How Eliminating the Income Tax Can Create JobsPosted on September 20, 2012 | Type: Policy Report | Author: Stephen Slivinski
Policymakers in states across the country are searching for solutions to unemployment and a faltering economy. The answers, though, are simple and within reach. Legislators looking for a bold economic growth strategy should seriously consider the benefits of unshackling state economies from the income tax—a tax that penalizes workers, creates double taxation, and inhibits investment.
Cutting up the Credit Cards: Seven Ideas to Reform the Culture of Debt in State and Local GovernmentPosted on August 30, 2012 | Type: Policy Report | Author: Stephen Slivinski
Arizona’s constitutional drafters early in the 20th century were averse to public debt and to the tendency of government to use subsidies favor certain private interests. As a result, Arizona has a constitutional debt limit that limits state debt to $350,000—roughly $8 million in today’s dollars. But that limit is not effective at actually limiting debt. Today, state-level bonded indebtedness equals $13.7 billion. All levels of government in Arizona have outstanding debt in one form or another in the combined amount of at least $44 billion and possibly as high as $51 billion.