Legislature dismisses alternative budget plan
Proposal would have paid down state's debt quicker
by Mary Jo Pitzl - Feb. 19, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
The Legislature's budget committee took a look Thursday at an alternative proposal that pays down state debt quickly, prevents further program cuts and raises taxes - then quickly dismissed it.
The lawmakers spent more time debating the authorship of the "mystery budget" than discussing its merits.
The plan emerged earlier this month in the House of Representatives as an alternative to the budget that Gov. Jan Brewer has proposed for the rest of this fiscal year and fiscal 2011.
Although no one has claimed authorship, some lawmakers saw promising elements in it and unsuccessfully urged Speaker Kirk Adams to let it be introduced as a late bill package.
Instead, they got a hearing at which the plan's major elements were contrasted with Brewer's budget.
The plan's major points are:
• Elimination of most of a projected $3 billion in debt in six years, compared with the 20 years in current plans.
• Tax increases, such as a 10 percent hike in the individual income tax and an expansion of the sales tax to food. It would later cut the sales tax to 4 cents on the dollar - a rate last seen in the early 1980s - but apply the tax to various services.
• An end to the state subsidy on residential property rates, which would increase residential tax bills.
• A 28 percent cut in the corporate income tax to spur business creation.
Unlike Brewer's plan, it assumes no more cuts in state programs and it saves millions in debt payments.