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Support Legislation to Reduce the Size of Government and Protect Workers
An Open Letter to the Arizona State Senate
February 7, 2011
On behalf of the National Taxpayers Union’s 8,300 members in Arizona, I urge you to support three bills that will provide relief for overburdened taxpayers by reducing the size and scope of government, and one bill that would prevent unauthorized deductions from workers’ pay for use in political activities.
Massive overspending has resulted in equally massive deficits and a state government that is fundamentally unaffordable for taxpayers. Moreover, state government is performing an increasing number of tasks, such as facilities maintenance, that the private sector is better suited to carry out for both economic and constitutional reasons. To remedy this problem, Arizona needs strong limitations on spending and at least three bills now before you can contribute to this vital task.
SCR 1019 asks voters to approve a constitutional state spending limit of 6.4 percent of state personal income. SB 1408 would establish “Truth in Spending” estimates consisting of the amount of current appropriations from all sources, each adjusted for population and inflation, and require a simple majority vote of the Legislature to increase spending at rates beyond these levels. Additionally, SB 1408 requires the Legislature to hold a hearing prior to such a vote to obtain input from taxpayers. Finally, SB 1322 requires cities with populations in excess of 200,000 people to seek private sector bids for all municipal services, with exceptions for public safety officers.
Although Arizona already has a constitutional limitation on spending at 7 percent of state personal income, public officials have in the past taken advantage of this provision’s generous terms (such as moving governmental functions from one level to another) to approve substantial and unsustainable increases in expenditures. A stricter limit, which could still be overridden by a two-thirds majority vote in the Legislature, coupled with more accurate revenue estimates, would still allow government to grow – only more in line with the state’s economy. Also, by requiring a public hearing before any vote, taxpayers will have an opportunity to submit their views directly to their legislators, which will encourage civic engagement and more accountability. Further, a requirement for private sector bids for all non-public safety municipal services in large cities will ease the burgeoning costs of government that drive tax increases.
Finally, SCR 1028, the Paycheck Protection Referendum, would ask Arizona voters if public and private employers should be prohibited from deducting of payments from any employee’s paycheck for political purposes without the annually affirmed written consent of the employee. This is a needed reform to prevent the misuse of workers’ earnings by interest groups seeking to advance their agendas.
The time for meaningful spending and political reform in Arizona is now. Therefore, our members hope you will support these proposals, which would provide protection for taxpayers and workers.