The Arizona Legislature and Governor Brewer are trying to solve the budget crisis. It would have been “easy” if the legislature had just done what the Governor wanted – raise sales taxes. But a funny thing happened on the way to a budget deal. 38 legislators had signed the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform, a pledge that has been around for more than two decades and signed by literally thousands of state and federal candidates and office holders in that time span.
You see, ATR’s chief Grover Norquist deemed a referral of a sales tax as breaking the pledge. So legislators were very reticent to refer the tax without figuring out a way to do it within the confines of the pledge. They eventually found a way to do it and get ATR’s blessing – by coupling it with tax relief on family and business income.
This is why “special interests” have a role in public policy. ATR’s pledge means something, because if you break it, there could be consequences. And if you don’t take it, you may never be elected. And in this case, the “special interest” was taxpayers. So as a taxpayer, I want to thank ATR for getting us a better budget deal.