Arizona’s Race To The Bottom. Our co-hosts welcome Karen McClelland and AZ State Representative Mitzi Epstein to the show to discuss the state budget recently passed by a slim Republican majority. Epstein is a Democratic member of the House of Representatives who has served since 2017.
“This in a word, is a rotten budget,” says Epstein. “A huge tax cut for the very, very wealthy.” She explains that the new budget not only cut taxes for the wealthy. It changed the entire tax structure. “Start with the flat income tax,” she says. “You want income taxes to be progressive, because everything else is regressive. [But] thanks to the Trust Fund tax loophole, if you are extremely wealthy, you can avoid paying taxes altogether.”
One casualty of the budget is funding for public education. According to Epstein and McClelland, the legislature cut education funding by $300 million in defiance of a recently passed voter initiative intended to increase education funding. As a result, Arizona’s teacher salaries will remain the lowest in the nation and its per pupil spending will remain among the nation’s lowest.
The changes are part of the Republican-controlled state government’s desire to be a low tax state. But as Epstein notes, “Arizona is a low tax state only for the wealthiest.”