Posts Tagged ‘brewer’

1st June
2009
written by Sean Noble

The Governor has released her budget plan.  In her transmittal letter – addressed to citizens – Brewer calls for a $1 billion tax increase through a 1% increase on state sales taxes.

I know she, and her advisors, believe that there is no other way to deal with the budget, but the legislature has passed a balanced budget out of committee – without a tax increase.

Here is the problem I have with the Governor’s budget: if we can’t undo the massive growth of state government foisted on us by former Gov. Janet Napolitano and a few allied moderate Republicans joining with Democrats in the legislature, then why do we as Republicans even have a majority?  If it reducing the role of government in the daily lives of Arizonans isn’t an article of faith of being a Republican, than what is? 

What frustrates me with this whole debate is that I think we are presented with a false choice.  The Governor says we have to raise taxes – that’s because she isn’t willing to cut spending more.  The legislature has a plan that avoids cutting taxes, but has too many gimmicks for my taste.  It cuts about $600 million – when we really should be cutting closer to $1 billion.

Yes, I know it sounds harsh – that’s cutting a lot.  But if we don’t cut now, when times are tough, we will never do it.  It shouldn’t take a crisis for Republicans to actually act like Republicans, and it’s downright pathetic when Republicans just act like weak Democrats.

If I were in charge (and sometimes I’m glad I’m not) my philosophy would dictate no increase in taxes and no gimmicks – just hard cuts.

28th May
2009
written by Sean Noble

Wow!

The Arizona budget battle is about to go nuclear.   Various news outlets are reporting on a strategy memo prepared by Gov. Brewer confidant Chuck Coughlin at Highground that lays out a $225K campaign to target 18 legislative districts to pressure legislators to support a yet to be released budget from Gov. Brewer.

Team,

Attached is the legislative strategy docs that were handed out and discussed briefly at the meeting. This strategy is based on the launching of a budget next week that the coalition would be able to support. We would like your input on the strategy as well as the targeted legislators who should be part of our outreach efforts. If you have any questions, please let us know.

As we near the end of the fiscal year (June 30) the pressure is ramping up to get a budget done to fix the structural deficit that has become the legacy of former Gov. Janet Napolitano. The rub is that Brewer wants a billion dollar tax hike and the legislature wants to balance the budget without raising taxes.

 

There are two fascinating points.  One, it’s obvious that Gov. Brewer and her team do not expect a serious primary opponent.  (The only other explanation for her to target fellow Republicans is that she is not running for election in 2010, but that is dismissed by nearly everyone in town).  This may change that dynamic.

 

Two, look at the folks who are a part of this pro-Brewer, anti-legislator effort.  The name that jumps out the most is Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen.  It is stunning that Pullen is participating in a campaign that literally goes after incumbent Republican legislators when we are going into an election year that is critical to maintaining Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

 

How does the party, on one hand, support the effort to criticize and pressure Republican members, while on the other hand claim to be the vehicle for legislators to help them get re-elected?

 

It makes reason stare.

 

My guess is that the legislature is not going to take this laying down.  They will fight back, and the irony is that many of the legislators closest to Pullen are on the target list.

 

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more strange…

27th March
2009
written by Sean Noble

If there is one thing Republicans are very consistent at, it is shooting at each other, and shooting themselves in the foot.  Yes, Democrats shoot at each other as well, but I get the sense that we do it more often, more publicly and more lethally.

Case in point is the warfare that has been playing out on the conservative blog Sonoran Alliance for the last few days.   Almost all bloggers who contribute to Sonoran Alliance are anonymous, and one of those bloggers is “Chewie Shofir”.

Chewie posted an over the top hit piece on local lobbyist/political operative Chuck Coughlin who runs a firm called Highground.  Chuck has been in the biz for the better part of 25 years and has many friends and many enemies.  My own relationship with Chuck has been hot and cold – depending on the issue that is being debated at the moment, but we remain friends and respect each other.

Chuck responded to Chewi with a rational, calm and well written explanation.  He laid out, in a systematic way, the problem that Arizona faces (thanks to former Gov. Janet Napolitano and her allies in the legislature) and points out that Gov. Brewer believes that we may not have any choice but to raise taxes.

Chuck’s response is the way that Republicans should dialogue with each other on difficult issues.  To go postal on each other just leaves blood on the floor and Democrats smiling.

23rd March
2009
written by Sean Noble

Rasmussen has done a poll in Arizona testing voters on Obama’s approval rating, Gov. Jan Brewer’s approval rating, whether voters support a temporary tax increase to fix the budget, whether they think a tax increase is going to happen and other issues like immigration and drug trafficking.  The results are very instructive. Clearly, there are some issues that raise the ire of Arizonans.

1* How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as President… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job he’s been doing?

32% Strongly approve
21% Somewhat approve
8% Somewhat disapprove
39% Strongly disapprove
1% Not sure

No real news here.  In a red-shaded state like Arizona, it would be a surprise if Obama had strong approval.  People are still willing to give him some time, but nearly half are not liking what they see.

 

2* How would you rate the job Jan Brewer has been doing as Governor… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job she’s been doing?

9% Strongly approve
48% Somewhat approve
26% Somewhat disapprove
11% Strongly disapprove
6% Not sure

The surprise here is that only 6% had no opinion.  That is good news for the Governor, because she is having a better honeymoon than Obama.  These number make any potential opponents (primary or general) take pause.

 

3* Do you favor or oppose a temporary tax increase to help stem the state’ budget shortfall?

22% Favor
65% Oppose
13% Not sure

People don’t like higher taxes. Period.

 

4* How likely is it that a temporary tax hike will become permanent?

70% Very likely
19% Somewhat likely
8% Not very likely
1% Not at all likely
2% Not sure

While people don’t like taxes, there is a feeling of inevitability.

 

5* Should there be a special election to raise state sales tax to help with the budget shortfall and to save some programs that have to be cut?

41% Yes
42% No
17% Not sure

The 17% of people who are not sure are the target audience for the Governor.

 

6* Should taxes only be raised by a majority vote of the people?

76% Yes
16% No
8% Not sure

People want a say, and they hold out hope that most people will think like they do, and not raise taxes.

 

The rest of the poll – just for kicks and giggles:

7* Would you favor or oppose doing away with property taxes completely if it meant an increase in sales tax?

42% Favor
33% Oppose
26% Not sure

8* Would you favor or oppose doing away with property taxes completely if it meant a loss of programs?

24% Favor
55% Oppose
22% Not sure

9* Do you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable impression of Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio?
46% Very favorable
22% Somewhat favorable
10% Somewhat unfavorable
16% Very unfavorable
7% Not sure
 

10* If a police officer pulls someone over for a traffic violation, should the officer automatically check to see if that person is in the country legally?
74% Yes
21% No
5% Not sure
 

11* If law enforcement officers know of places where immigrants gather to find work, should they sometimes conduct surprise raids to identify and deport illegal immigrants?
63% Yes
31% No
6% Not sure
 

12* How concerned are you that efforts to identify and deport illegal immigrants will also end up violating the civil rights of some U.S. citizens?

32% Very concerned
24% Somewhat concerned
30% Not very concerned
13% Not at all concerned
1% Not sure
 

13* Which concerns you more – illegal immigration or drug violence?
29% Illegal immigration
60% Drug violence
10% Not sure
 

14* If drug violence continues to escalate along the Mexican border should the U.S. Military be used along the border to protect American citizens?
76% Yes
14% No
9% Not sure

 

9th March
2009
written by Sean Noble

eArizona Republic editorial writer, Doug MacEachern, is one of the bright spots at the Arizona Republic. He is a thoughtful, conservative writer who weighs in on some of the most important policy matters that face the state.  He has almost single-handedly dealt a blow to the Union thuggery known as “card check” – the idea that workers can organize into a union by merely signing a card, rather than having a private ballot.  He pointed out the hypocrisy that Democrats advance when they support such un-American and anti-worker legislation.

So it got my attention when, in a “Quick Hit,” MacEachern called out State Sen. Ron Gould for bad manners for walking out on Gov. Brewer’s faux State of the State address after she raised the possibility of tax increases to deal with the budget mess she inherited from Janet Napolitano. 

Sen. Ron Gould’s ungracious exit

by Doug MacEachern

I was on the House floor during Gov. Jan Brewer’s budget-balancing speech in which she urged lawmakers to consider a temporary tax hike.

I didn’t see the showboating, midspeech exit by Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, who apparently needed to make the evening all about him. Sorry I missed him. I would have asked him where he left his manners.

 Now, it isn’t unprecedented for legislators to walk out of speeches by chief executives for saying things they disagree with.  Matt Salmon and John Shadegg did it to President Bill Clinton back in the 90’s.  The difference is that it was someone from the opposing party.  Some will argue that Sen. Gould showed maverick independence by walking out of Gov. Brewer.  Others, like MacEachern, just think it is rude.  I don’t recall ever hearing that Sen. Gould walked out of a Napolitano speech.

What do you think?

6th March
2009
written by Sean Noble

Arizona GOP Party Chairman Randy Pullen announced his support for Arizona Governor Brewer’s budget reform, including a call to consider, if necessary, a $1 billion tax increase:

Governor Brewer has called for a public vote on temporary tax increases, if necessary, to bridge the gap, but only after all other avenues of budget reductions have been exhausted.”

Most of the reaction to the Governor’s speech is that she specifically called for a tax increase.  I read the speech, and I didn’t see an explicit call for a tax increase.

But as a very last resort, after considering every other option, and after doing a truthful and honest assessment of our economic situation, we must be willing to consider the passage of a temporary tax increase – approved by you and signed by me – or approved by the voters at a special election, of roughly $1 billion dollars per year.

I’m going to give her the benefit of a doubt that she will find a way to deal with the mess she inherited from Janet Napolitano without abandoning the most basic of Republican principles.  Unless I’m missing something, I don’t see a proposal to raise taxes.  I see a challenge from her to the legislature to find ways to avoid raising taxes.  I hope, for the sake of our economy and for our future, she doesn’t raise taxes.

I’m also giving her the benefit of a doubt because I can’t believe a state Republican Party Chairman would support a $1 billion tax increase – which would be the largest tax increase in state history.  I don’t believe a Chairman would do that, especially when that Chairman considers himself a “platform Republican.”  In order to pass the largest tax increase in state history, the Governor would have to have some Democrats vote for a budget, (since there are lots of Republican legislators who would honor their “no tax increase” pledge) and I don’t think she wants to become a mini-version of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.   At the end of the day, I could be wrong.  Time will tell.

So there is no ambiguity, here is the most recent Republican Platform on taxes:

Republican Tax Policy: Protecting Hardworking Americans

The most important distinction between Republicans and the leadership of today’s Democratic Party concerning taxes is not just that we believe you should keep more of what you earn. That’s true, but there is a more fundamental distinction. It concerns the purpose of taxation. We believe government should tax only to raise money for its essential functions.

Today’s Democratic Party views the tax code as a tool for social engineering. They use it to control our behavior, steer our choices, and change the way we live our lives. The Republican Party will put a stop to both social engineering and corporate handouts by simplifying tax policy, eliminating special deals, and putting those saved dollars back into the taxpayers’ pockets.

The Republican Agenda: Using Tax Relief to Grow the Economy

Sound tax policy alone may not ensure economic success, but terrible tax policy does guarantee economic failure. Along with making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent so American families will not face a large tax hike, Republicans will advance tax policies to support American families, promote savings and innovation, and put us on a path to fundamental tax reform.

Lower Taxes on Families and Individuals

  • American families with children are the hardest hit during any economic downturn. Republicans will lower their tax burden by doubling the exemption for dependents.
  • New technology should not occasion more taxation. We will permanently ban internet access taxes and stop all new cell phone taxes.
  • For the sake of family farms and small businesses, we will continue our fight against the federal death tax.
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax, a stealth levy on the middle-class that unduly targets large families, must be repealed.
  • Republicans support tax credits for health care and medical expenses.

 

The Democrats Plan to Raise Your Taxes

The last thing Americans need right now is tax hikes. On the federal level, Republicans lowered taxes in 2001 and 2003 in order to encourage economic growth, put more money in the pockets of every taxpayer, and make the system fairer. It worked. If Congress had then controlled its spending, we could have done even more.

Ever since those tax cuts were enacted, the Democratic Party has been clear about its goals: It wants to raise taxes by eliminating those Republican tax reductions. The impact on American families would be disastrous:

  • Marginal tax rates would rise. This is in addition to their proposal to target millions of taxpayers with even higher rates.
  • The “marriage penalty” would return for two-earner couples.
  • The child tax credit would fall to half its current value.
  • Small businesses would lose their tax relief.
  • The federal death tax would be enormously increased.
  • Investment income – the seed money for new jobs – would be eaten away by higher rates for dividend and capital gain income.

All that and more would amount to an annual tax hike upwards of $250 billion – almost $700 per taxpayer every year, for a total of $1.1 trillion in additional taxes over the next decade. That is what today’s Democratic Party calls “tax fairness.” We call it an unconscionable assault on the paychecks and pocketbooks of every hard-working American household. Their promises to aim their tax hikes at families with high incomes is a smokescreen; history shows that when Democrats want more money, they raise taxes on everyone.

4th March
2009
written by Sean Noble

Brewer speaks to the legislature today at 4:00 p.m.  This is as close to a State of the State address as she can get, having ascended to office after Napolitano’s official State of the State.  Obama did the same thing last week when he addressed Congress in a faux-State of the Union address.

What is interesting is that Democrats in Congress were throwing out all kinds of ideas, proposals, etc. in the lead up to Obama’s faux-SOTU speech.  No one accused the Democrat leaders of “cutting Obama off at the knees” in doing so. 

Now, state legislative leadership has released various proposals on how to deal with the Napolitano-induced budget crisis, and some are crying foul.  The objection is that Brewer should be able to lay out her plan prior to legislative leadership laying out their own.

That thinking is actually backwards when you understand the constitutional authority of the branches of government.  It is the legislature’s job (required by constitution) to pass bills that fund government and set policy.  It’s the Governor’s prerogative to sign or veto any such legislation – which is a part of the process called “legislating.”

Watch for Brewer to lay out the severity of the problem she inherited from Napolitano (and it’s hard to overstate the severity of the problem) and to propose ways to fix it.  It will include rollbacks in the Napolitano spending binge of the last few years and it will likely include some form of “temporary” tax increases – likely a small increase in state sales tax.  She is likely to propose that the legislature refer such tax increase to the ballot.

That is going to fall on deaf ears by many legislators, some of whom have signed a pledge to not vote in any way to increase taxes.  If a tax increase is a part of Brewer’s plan, she’ll have to get some Democrat support, which will be very hard because of the spending reductions that will have to be included.

25th February
2009
written by Sean Noble

Governors will have to make some tough choices that Congress and Obama have forced upon them through policy changes in the stimulus bill.   At least one Democrat Governor is seriously considering not taking the federal money, because of the strings that are attached.

For most Governors, it’s too much of an enticement as they struggle to deal with massive budget deficits.  In Arizona Governor Brewer’s case, she faces the largest shortfall as a percentage of the total budget in the nation – no state has it as bad as Arizona.

That’s the legacy of Janet Napolitano.  The inheritance she left her successor was a two-year shortfall of nearly $5 billion.  That is an absolutely staggering sum.

So, it’s not likely that Brewer will join Governors like Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, or Haley Barbour of Mississippi.

But there is an important reason why Brewer will likely take the money – the obligations for Arizona are actually less severe than other states.  Jindal, Sanford and Barbour are reticent to take the federal money because they will have to make changes to unemployment laws and state health care laws to satisfy the desire Democrats in the House and Senate have for “government-creep,” that is, the requirement that states expand the scope of government services  to more and more people.

In an ironic twist, Napolitano had already broadened the scope of government so much that Arizona can take the money without fundamentally changing current law.

My point is this.  Brewer taking the money is not a sign of retreating on principle as compared to other Governors who don’t take the money.  It just demonstrates, yet one more time, the enduring legacy of a big-government liberal who tried to masquerade as a “moderate” and happened to be named Janet.

20th February
2009
written by Sean Noble

Newly installed Transportation Secretary, former Republican Congressman Ray LaHood, did what at first blush may look like a misstep getting out in front of the Obama administration on the possibility of taxing drivers based on how many miles they drive.

“We should look at the vehicular miles program where people are actually clocked on the number of miles that they traveled,” the former Illinois Republican lawmaker said Thursday.

This would be accomplished by installing GPS devices in every car sold in the U.S. and then the information would be downloaded to determine the amount of the tax.

White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, was quick to claim that Obama is not considering such a policy:

“It is not and will not be the policy of the Obama administration,” Gibbs told reporters, when asked for the president’s thoughts about the policy and LaHood’s remarks.

Despite Gibbs comments, this is clearly a trial balloon by the Obama administration.  They will let it simmer and then the environmental community, states and other transportation reform advocates will start pushing it, and once sufficient cover is established, the administration will begin to find ways to adopt it.

This is a textbook example of how to launch a trial balloon, and one Gov. Brewer’s staff should study.  LaHood is not the White House, but as Transportation Secretary he has enough credibility to make news and get attention.  He floats this idea out there, let’s the White House denounce it, and it sends the message to advocacy groups that they need to gin up the support to provide the impetus for the Administration to act. 

Brilliant.

17th February
2009
written by Sean Noble

There is no question that the budget mess we are in here in Arizona rivals any state in the nation.  We have the largest deficit as a percentage of our budget than any other state.  The good news is that we haven’t fallen into the trap (yet) of trying to tax our way out of it.

California is trying to pass a budget, but they haven’t been able to because Republican legislators are holding firm on opposing a $14 BILLION tax increase as a part of the package. With the impending layoffs of more than 10,000 state employees in California, I would guess they will get a budget out today or tomorrow – someone is going to break to the pressure.

Unfortunately for California, that will not fix their long-term problem.  They are already losing population as a result of their fiscal policies that squeeze the middle class to the point of literally driving them out of the state.

Which means that California’s loss may be Arizona’s gain.  If Governor Brewer and the Legislature deal with the 2010 budget mess in a constructive way, Arizona could be a magnet for businesses and individuals (many from California) which could help us grow our way out of the fiscal crisis in the mid-term and long term.  No, it won’t help the short term, that is still going to be very painful, but if Arizona avoids gouging individual taxpayers and businesses, we can make significant strides to dealing with our housing crisis and budget shortfalls.

Let’s do the right thing and put out the welcome mat.

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