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Patrick Gleason

South Carolina Senate Talking Tax Hikes


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Thursday, April 1st, 2010, 1:34 PM PERMALINK


The two chambers of the South Carolina legislature are in the midst of a little game of who can out tax who. While this is April Fools Day, the measures being debated in Columbia are no joke to Palmetto State taxpayers.

A few weeks ago the SC House passed a budget which included a 30 cent per pack, 428% tax hike on cigarettes. Some South Carolina House members did not want their vote for higher taxes in the midst of an economic downturn on record, so the portion of the state budget that included the tobacco tax hike was voted on anonymously. I know, talk about infinite courage and transparency.

Rep. Joey Millwood (R-Spartanburg), to his credit, held his colleagues accountable by offering an amendment to remove the cigarette tax hike. While the amendment was subsequently defeated 106-12, it at least forced the tax hikers to stand up and be counted. This will come in very handy in November.

The Senate, which is working on the budget this week has decided to do the House one better and is taking up the 50 cent per pack, 714% hike that was passed by the House last year but subsequently stalled in the Senate. For a list of all Senators that have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, and will have violated their central campaign promise to voters with an “aye” vote, click here.

Need further proof that many of these Republican legislators are not as conservative or fiscally responsible as they claim? Keep in mind that this tobacco tax hike is also an effort to draw down more federal matching funds in order to put off addressing the state’s over spending problem. Let me be clear (as Obama would say), no South Carolina legislator that votes in favor of making their state more dependant on a federal government that is over $12 trillion in debt can fancy themselves fiscally conservative.

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Taxpayer Protection Pledge a Deciding Factor in Arizona Gubernatorial Race


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Thursday, March 25th, 2010, 6:02 PM PERMALINK


Rasmussen Reports recently released the results of a poll conducted in Arizona earlier this month. The poll found that Gov. Jan Brewer’s push for higher taxes in the Grand Canyon State has hampered her chances for re-election.

The Rasmussen poll found the Democrats’ presumptive gubernatorial nominee, Attorney General Terry Goddard, leading Gov. Brewer 45% to 36%. However, Gov. Brewer is facing stiff competition in the Republican primary from state Treasurer Dean Martin and successful entrepreneur and businessman Buz Mills. Unlike Brewer, Rasmussmen found both Martin and Mills leading Goddard in head-to-head polls by no less than five points.

It should be noted that Mills and Martin are the only candidates in the race to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a commitment to voters that they will oppose and veto any and all tax increases. Additionally, Mills and Martin have joined Sen. McCain, Sen. Kyl, and Rep. Flake in stating their opposition to Gov. Brewer's $3 billion sales tax increase.

It is clear that Gov. Brewer signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in her previous gig as Secretary of State for reasons of political expediency, knowing that as Secretary of State she would never be put in a position to uphold this principled commitment. Upon her ascension to the governorship a little over a year ago she discarded her Pledge and proceeded to push a massive tax increase in the midst of an economic downturn as her flagship policy initiative.

Facing a tsunami of higher taxes from Washington as a result of the recently passed health care bill and the pending expiration of 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, Arizona voters are looking for candidates who will stand up for their economic interests and reign in the unsustainable growth of government.

By signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Martin and Mills have made clear that they will stand up against the spending interests and protect taxpayers. It is no coincidence that they are also leading in the polls.

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Real Men of Genius - DC City Council Edition: Cigarette Tax Hike Reduces Revenue


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Thursday, February 25th, 2010, 10:58 AM PERMALINK


Yesterday Washington, DC's Chief Financial Officer, Natwar Gandhi, sent a letter to Mayor Fenty informing him that new estimates show revenues in the current budget to be $17 million shy of initial projections. A big reason for the downward revision: the recent cigarette tax increase.

DC City Council members raised DC's cigarette excise tax 50 cents last year, bringing the rate to $2.50 per pack. The council members, in their infinite wisdom, failed to consider the effect that would be had by raising the District's cigarette tax rate 25% higher than neighboring Maryland and a whopping 733% higher than is levied across the river in Virginia.

It gets better. Not only do new estimates show the tax hike will bring in $15 million less than was originally projected, cigarette tax revenue is expected to actually be $7.6 million less than pre-hike levels.In his letter to Fenty, Gandhi noted:

"future increases in the tax rate will likely generate less revenue."

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids recently published a report claiming that a dollar per pack increase in cigarette excise taxes would raise revenue in every state, including Washington, DC. DC's budget revisions and Gandhi's conclusions show that claim to be false and should call the entire report into question.

Lawmakers in Georgia and South Carolina, where cigarette tax hikes are currently under consideration, would be wise to learn from Washington's mistake, which yet again proves that cigarette tax hikes are bad policy and a dubious source of revenue. Furthermore, cigarette tax increases serve as nothing more than a place holder for future tax increases on income, property, sales, and other goods and services.

Other examples of failed cigarette tax hikes are abound:

~ New Jersey raised the cigarette tax 17.5 cents in 2007.  They collected $52 million less than they had projected and $22 million below what they collected before the tax hike.

~ After Maryland raised the cigarette tax $1 in 2007, sales dropped by 25% and there was a 254% increase in cigarettes illegally crossing state lines.

~ Arkansas passed a 56-cent tax hike on cigarettes in February 2009.  On the heels of the federal cigarette tax increase, the bill was estimated to bring in $86 million, but the projection was lowered to $72 million just one month after passage.  Then, in December, the Department of Finance and Administration predicted a $10.3 million drop in tobacco tax collections.

~ Mississippi raised the cigarette tax by 50-cents in May 2009.  The hike was expected to raise $113 million in the first year, but by August projections were already off by $4.7 million.

~ Rhode Island raised the cigarette tax by $1 to $3.46 per pack last year. By November revenue projections were down by $7.7 million. 

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Arizona House Considers Rental Car Tax Increase


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Monday, February 22nd, 2010, 12:23 PM PERMALINK


While much attention has been paid to Gov. Brewer’s sales tax increase and the Phoenix food tax, Arizona taxpayers should keep an eye on legislation (HB 2736) currently moving through the Arizona House that would raise the already high rental car tax in Maricopa County and impose a new tax on ticket sales for all Cactus League spring training tickets sold in Maricopa County. Funds from these tax increases would be used to keep the Chicago Cubs in Mesa. While this is certainly a desirable goal, raising the rental car tax, or any tax for that matter, is the wrong way to go about it.

Considerable costs are already heaped upon car rentals at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport with the five taxes and fees that are currently applied. For example, these taxes and fees already add over 38% to the four day rental base price for a midsize SUV. Also keep in mind that the 18% sales tax hike that will be on the ballot in the May already threatens to substantially jack up the cost of renting a car. 

While proponents of this tax hike may claim that this bill mainly affects out of state visitors, that is most certainly not the case. Arizonans renting replacement vehicles would be subject to this tax increase. Given the fact that replacement vehicles represent the majority of the car rental business, this tax increase would be paid mostly by Arizona residents. 

HB 2736 would also have a negative economic impact on the local economy. One study shows that a recent localized rental car tax hike led to a 9% reduction in car rentals and as much as an 86% reduction in the number of days cars were rented. Likewise, HB 2736 will lead to reduced demand for rental cars and likely not meet revenue projections. 

Additionally, the Goldwater Institute has pointed out that raising taxes to benefit a single sports franchise, as HB 2736 would do, may very well violate the Arizona constitution. Furthermore, Goldwater Institute also points out that this bill would grant a sports authority a level of power that may constitute an improper delegation of legislative authority. 

ATR is asking lawmakers to reject HB 2736, which is simply bad policy and worse, violates the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Five Pledge signers are listed among the bill’s sponsors. ATR urges those lawmakers (Sen. Verschoor and Reps. Adams, Nichols, Tobin, and Yarborough) to reconsider their support.

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Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons is fibbin....Again


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Thursday, February 18th, 2010, 11:10 AM PERMALINK


Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons has called for a special session of the legislature next week. The purpose: raise taxes on Nevada families and employers. 

However, Gibbons is either in denial or refuses to admit that his proposals are tax increases. The short answer: they clearly are and in pushing them Gov. Gibbons is breaking his pledge to not raise taxes, just as he did last year.
 
The mining industry is a major target under Gibbons’ tax plan. Gibbons wants to eliminate tax deductions that the mining industry has factored into its business plans and calculations for years. Under Gibbons’ proposal the mining industry would see their tax burden rise by more than 90% over the next biennium.
 
The other plank of Gibbons’ tax plan is to apply the state sales tax to online purchases from out of state retailers. This same policy has been implemented in a number of states across the country. However, the Gibbons administration clearly hasn’t studied the results from the states that have tried this. Had they, they would have seen that it is simply bad policy and does not raise revenue. Further proof can be found that administration has not done its homework in yesterday’s Las Vegas Sun, in which the Director of State Taxation Department was asked how much the online sales tax would raise. His answer: he has no clue. A more honest answer is that the online sales tax will raise no revenue. Just ask the Rhode Island Division of Taxation. In fact, this measure has been proven to kill jobs and reduce income tax revenue coming into the state (*was the case in NC, however NV has no income tax). And just when you thought this proposal couldn’t be worse, it’s most likely unconstitutional.
 
During Gibbons’ recent State of the State address he issued the following remarks:
 
“In this tough economy, we cannot ask our citizens to pay new taxes. They have nothing left to give. We cannot ask our businesses to pay more taxes. Many of them are struggling just to stay open ... I reaffirm my word to you tonight: As long as I serve as your governor, I will not raise taxes.”
 
However, Gibbons is asking NV legislators to do just that in next week’s special session. Fortunately, the June 8 Nevada Republican primary is fast approaching and Nevada taxpayers will soon enough have an opportunity to hold Gibbons’ accountable for his actions. Americans for Tax Reform looks forward to reminding voters of Gibbons’ doublespeak throughout the campaign season. 

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Candidates for Texas Legislature Sign Taxpayer Protection Pledge


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Monday, February 15th, 2010, 6:40 PM PERMALINK


The March 2nd Texas primaries are just over two weeks away but Texans will begin casting ballots as soon as tomorrow morning, which marks the start of early voting in the Lone Star State.

CLICK HERE for a list of all state level incumbents and challengers who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written promise to oppose any and all efforts to raise state taxes. If you don't see your representative or preferred candidate on the list, call them and ask that they sign the Pledge and make it clear that they will stand up for Texas taxpayers and employers.

ATR will continue to update this list between now and the primary.

Post-Primary Update**

For a list of incumbents and challengers who have signed the Pledge and advanced to the general election: Click Here

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Colorado Senate Debates "Dirty Dozen" Tax Package


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Monday, February 8th, 2010, 2:36 PM PERMALINK


The “Dirty Dozen” tax hike package that was recently approved by the Colorado House of Representatives now heads to the Senate floor after it was passed out of the Senate Finance Committee on a 4-3 party line vote last week.

The package is scheduled for its second reading in the Senate today and, given the sizable Democrat majority in that chamber, is expected to receive final approval by week’s end. Colorado Republicans remain in lockstep opposition to the package.

ATR has repeatedly pointed out that these measures will send jobs out of state, as similar measures have in other states, and will fail to rectify the state’s budget deficit, as has been the case in other states that have imposed similar measures. The tax increases on online purchases and downloads are guaranteed to destroy high-paying tech sector jobs. The tax hikes on items such as soda, candy, doggy bags, and napkins will hit those least able to afford it the hardest.

As has been previously pointed out, the state constitution’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) requires that these tax increases be sent to the ballot for voter approval, yet Colorado Democrats have no intention to honor this requirement. For information on the Colorado Supreme Court case that has enabled this tax package to move forward and the effort to remove the Justices responsible for that ruling, visit Clear the Bench Colorado’s website.

Governor Ritter and legislative Democrats insist tax increases are needed to close the state’s budget shortfall. However, Senate Republicans laid waste to that claim by recently releasing an alternative budget that closes the state’s budget deficit without raising any taxes. That plan, which ATR supports, entails a .25% reduction in state payroll spending in the current budget and a 4.4% reduction for the coming fiscal year that begins in July.

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Van Taylor, candidate for Texas State House, Signs Taxpayer Protection Pledge


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Saturday, February 6th, 2010, 5:35 PM PERMALINK


Van Taylor, a Republican running in Texas’s 66th State House District, recently signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). By signing the Pledge, Taylor has made a written commitment that he will oppose any and all efforts to raise taxes in the Lone Star State. 

To date, Governor Rick Perry, four state senators and 29 members of the Texas House of Representatives have signed the Pledge. Additionally, seven governors and over 1,100 state legislators across the country have signed the Pledge.
 
“Texans, and all Americans, are desperately searching for candidates and lawmakers that will protect their pocketbooks and put taxpayers and employers ahead of government’s coffers,” said Grover Norquist, president of ATR.
 
Van Taylor has been endorsed by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Young Conservatives of Texas, and Congressman Jeb Hensarling. 

“Fiscal restraint and a commitment to limited government are the reason why Texas is the nation’s economic powerhouse and is why Texas has not followed the likes of California, Michigan, and New York into financial ruin. Van Taylor has proven that he intends to continue Texas’s commitment to pro-growth policies by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” Norquist continued. “I urge all candidates for federal and state office to make the same commitment to taxpayers by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge today.”

 

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Good Evening Arizona Pledge Breakers


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010, 5:38 PM PERMALINK


The Arizona Senate, moments ago, voted to send Gov. Brewer’s long sought sales tax increase to a May 18 special election ballot.  

The bill, SCR 1001, now heads to the House where it will face staunch opposition.
 
In this afternoon’s vote, four senators broke their Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a promise they made to their constituents to oppose “any and all efforts to raise taxes.” The senators who broke their commitment to constituents are as follows:
Bob Burns (R-Peoria)
Linda Gray (R-Phoenix)
Barbara Leff (R-Paradise Valley)
Jay Tibshraeny (R-Chandler)
“Its always unfortunate when lawmakers prove that they made a central campaign promise for reasons of political expediency, only later to demonstrate, much like Obama’s pledge not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year, that the commitment was hollow,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
 
Americans for Tax Reform applauds those senators who stayed true to their promise to constituents today by opposing the referral. Those senators include:
Ron Gould (R-Lake Havasu)
Chuck Gray (R-Mesa)
Jack Harper (R-Surprise)
John Huppenthal (R-Chandler)
Russell Pearce (R-Mesa)
Thayer Verschoor (R-Gilbert) 

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Brewer Sales Tax Hike Passed out of Senate Committee


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010, 2:45 PM PERMALINK


 This morning the Arizona Senate Natural Resources, Infrastructure and Public Debt Committee voted in favor of the 18% sales tax hike referral that Gov. Jan Brewer has doggedly advocated since early last year. The lone vote in opposition came from Sen. Amanda Arguirre (D-Yuma). 

Although many lawmakers who were initially opposed to the sales tax referral now appear to be on board, Americans for Tax Reform’s position in opposition to the sales tax referral remains unchanged and will continue to urge lawmakers to vote “No.” 

Arizona has been one of the states hardest hit by the economic downturn. A recent report commissioned by the Goldwater Institute and conducted by the Beacon Hill Institute found that Brewer’s sales tax increase would only delay recovery. The report concluded the following: 

“a $1 billion dollar sales tax increase would cost 14,400 private sector jobs. That is roughly the equivalent of every worker at PetsMart, Circle K, Harkins Theaters, Starbucks and UPS in Arizona losing their job.”

Furthermore: 

“raising the sales tax by 18 percent would cut the state’s real economic output by $1.2 billion. Arizonans would see their total after-tax income, already hit hard by recession, fall by an average of $300 per household.” 

The Arizona Republic recently reported that there is also a “Third Way” budget proposal working it’s way around the copper dome that would include Brewer’s sales tax hike, some permanent tax increases, as well as some future tax cuts. The Republic notes that “no one is claiming ownership,” of the new package at this point.

And just in time for the special session, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform will be in Arizona this Thursday. Grover will be the featured guest at this month’s Politics on the Rocks event. For details on this event, click here.

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