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With the general election campaigns now underway, today the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG) released a set of tax and budget policy recommendations for gubernatorial and legislative candidates. The suggestions include increasing state budget transparency, rejecting budget gimmicks, examining tax expenditures, and implementing public interest safeguards on privatization deals.
During the past two legislative sessions, lawmakers have faced significant budget deficits and likely will continue to have to deal with Arizona’s financial woes. At the start of the fiscal year on July 1st, state budget analysts estimated that the state already faced a budget deficit of up to $1.3 billion dollars.
According to Serena Unrein, Public Interest Advocate for Arizona PIRG, “One of the most important issues that will face the governor and state legislature after the November election will be the financial health of our state. It is important for candidates to publicly discuss how they will address Arizona’s fiscal problems.”
Arizona PIRG listed four main recommendations for candidates, which included:
- Increasing government transparency by prioritizing the launch of a top-notch state spending website to show taxpayers how government uses taxpayer dollars
- Refraining from the use of budget gimmicks to balance the state budget, including the gimmicks used in recent years, such as the sale-leasebacks of state buildings, budget rollovers, and fund sweeps
- Scrutinizing tax credits to make sure that they provide a good return on investment for Arizona, cutting those tax credits that do not provide benefits to the state. In addition, Arizona PIRG recommends implementing accountability mechanisms for tax credits.
- Ensuring that there are public interest safeguards in privatization deals if the state considers these deals as it has considered doing with a number of state assets in the past few years, such as state prisons, roads, and rest stops.
“Arizona faces dire fiscal problems. Not only will the next leaders of the state need to restore fiscal stability to our state, they will need to reestablish faith in state government. The best way to do that is by combining open government with better budgeting practices,” stated Unrein.
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