By Cole Lauterbach
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is reaffirming his commitment to lowering the state’s tax burden.
In his final budget address, the Republican governor took the podium in the joint session of the state Legislature on Monday to give special attention to his seven-year record of shrinking and streamlining government.
“We will cut taxes,” Ducey said. “It’s really not that complicated; it’s just basic common sense. Government takes in more than it needs to pay the bills, and the taxpayer should get to keep his or her hard-earned dollars.”
The speech marks Ducey’s eighth and final budget address. The two-term Republican is term-limited after the current year. Ducey boasted about the state’s historic tax cut that he signed but remained tied up in court, contrasting it with federal proposals to increase taxes.
“It all makes our commitment of returning money to the people more important than ever. Washington D.C. might have their eye on your paycheck – but at this Capitol, the only special interest on our mind is the taxpayer,” Ducey said.
If it withstands a legal challenge, Arizona’s progressive income tax that tops out at 4.5% would gradually flatten out to 2.5% with another cut for wealthy filers who must pay Prop. 208’s 3.5% surcharge for income over a certain amount.
Ducey highlighted Arizona’s economy, one of the few states fully recovered from the pandemic-related job losses. A report from Arizona’s Office of Economic Opportunity estimates the state will create an additional 700,000 jobs by 2030, many of which are in the technology sector.
In addition to educational programs to assist in learning loss, Ducey proposed a new push to educate Arizonans to take on technology jobs. Computer chip fabrication factories such as Intel, solar panel companies like Meyer Burger and others plan to expand in Arizona in the coming years. Ducey wants to provide the education needed to fill these high-paying jobs.
“Let’s invest in the worker, arming them with the skills they need for our growing semiconductor and advanced manufacturing industries,” he said. “So come June, we’re launching a summer camp with an emphasis on catching kids up in key areas: math, reading, and American civics. We will lead the way to eliminate learning loss.”
Despite pay increases in recent years, Arizona public school teachers remain some of the lowest-paid in the nation.
As of Jan. 1, Arizona is officially in a Tier 1 Colorado River water shortage. The change doesn’t affect residential Arizonans, but the nearly 18% reduction of water to the state will hit the agriculture industry. To address this, Ducey is proposing a $1 billion investment to “secure Arizona’s water future for the next 100 years.”
Ducey plans to submit his budget for legislative consideration on Friday.