Will Upton

Super Bowl Stadium Drives Glendale Broke, Despite Outrageous Taxes

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Posted by Will Upton on Tuesday, January 27th, 2015, 3:18 PM PERMALINK


The 2015 Super Bowl will be played at the University of Phoenix Stadium in sunny Glendale, Arizona. At first glance, it is a nearly perfect location for what is arguably the biggest event in American professional sports (my apologies to the World Series). But in an odd twist, considering the sports world’s current obsession with the Super Bowl bound New England Patriots and #DeflateGate, the financing scheme behind the University of Phoenix Stadium has left the City of Glendale’s finances… deflated.

Financing sports arenas and stadiums through taxes and public debt is never a good idea. Americans for Tax Reform has addressed this before. But the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale really takes the cake. The City of Glendale itself has a bit of a reputation, according to the New York Times, of throwing money at sports facilities in efforts to lure sports team there. The NYT notes: “But the scale of spending in the city of 230,000 residents is unique. According to Moody’s Investors Service, Glendale’s debt is equal to 4.9 percent of its tax base, nearly four times the national median and twice the average rate for cities in Arizona. More than 40 percent of the city’s debt is dedicated to paying off sports complexes.”

In the case of the University of Phoenix Stadium, advocates attempted to fund its construction via rental car taxes – specifically a 3.25-percent tax on rentals. They claimed that out-of-state tourists would pay the brunt of the tax on rental cars and thus finance the stadium – though, again, Americans for Tax Reform has detailed how rental car taxes actually disproportionately hit local taxpayers hardest. Instead, an Arizona judge ruled last year that rental car taxes are vehicle taxes and are thus required, by the Arizona constitution, to be spent on projects such as road and highway construction – not sports stadiums. According to The Republic, this ruling could leave Arizona on the hook for roughly $150 million.

Even without the legal ruling against the stadium financing, it is clear that taxes such as rental car taxes are discriminatory, reduce local accountability as to how revenue is appropriated, and play into the misguided notion that if you tax it, they will still come.

The Associated Press notes that most Super Bowl revelers aren’t even staying in Glendale, opting to stay and enjoy the nightlife in nearby Phoenix and Scottsdale instead. Glendale, and Maricopa County as a whole, relies on a 1-percent tax on hotel occupancy for, you guessed it, repaying $1.2 billion in bonds to finance stadium construction. Glendale’s predicted boost in tax revenue appears to be up in smoke, leaving the city’s taxpayers on the hook with even more debt.

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Peter Eisenman

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jetgraphics

We can't have people spending their own money as they see fit. Only the nation's leaders have the training and temperament to oversee such a strenuous duty. Next thing you know, they'll be questioning how Congress is "creating money" when it is only delegated power to coin money (stamp bullion) and borrow money.
[/sarcasm]

Reality Check

Professional team sports facilities should not be financed by the public purse, but by the team / sport itself. If there isn't the demand, it doesn't happen, real simple. Group pay for medical facilities is one thing, for entertainment is another.

LaughingTarget

It wouldn't change much if we only allowed them to stamp bullion since they can dictate the trade rate of it. The number on the face will just creep up over time instead of the quantity in circulation.


Proposed Tax Hikes in Kansas Won't Solve Overspending Problem; Will Hurt Small Businesses

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Posted by Will Upton on Monday, January 26th, 2015, 10:55 AM PERMALINK


As a part of his 2015 Kansas budget, Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed tax increases on alcohol and tobacco products. These tax increases would have a detrimental impact on  working class consumers and small businesses alike. In a letter to the Kansas legislature, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist noted:

Increasing the sate cigarette tax from 79-cents to $2.29 per pack represents a 190% increase in the tax rate on mostly middle and lower class consumers. Increasing the state tax on liquor from 8% to 12% would have a detrimental impact on many of Kansas’s small businesses who are reliant on liquor revenue – small businesses that the 2012 and 2013 tax reform legislation was designed to help and grow... A pack-a-day smoker would end up paying an extra $547.50 in taxes a year. Kansans living along the Missouri border may opt to avoid the tax altogether by purchasing their tobacco products in Missouri – where the tax would be lower. If consumers flock to businesses across state lines, they may make other purchases while shopping for tobacco – hurting the bottom lines of Kansas retailers.

In addition to the burdensome costs to retailers and consumers, sin taxes such as those proposed by Gov. Brownback are traditionally a declining source of revenue. Kansas has an overspending problem and it can be solved not by hiking taxes but by eliminating government waste and reducing spending. The ATR letter to the Kansas legislature notes:

States should aim to increase spending at the rate of inflation and population growth. Using those metrics Kansas has over-spent by about $12 billion between 2000 and 2009. That’s an over one-billion-dollars-per-year overspending problem. That data point alone should put to rest any claims that there is no room to cut from the state budget.

To read the full letter, click here.

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Marius Watz

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Where Have You Gone Congressman Kasich?

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Posted by Will Upton on Thursday, December 18th, 2014, 4:59 PM PERMALINK


Speaking today at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Gov. John Kasich has once again left political observers asking the question: Where have you gone Congressman Kasich? The differences between Congressman John Kasich – a firebrand anti-tax, anti-regulation conservative in the 1990’s – and John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, are stark.  

In today’s address, Gov. Kasich has resurrected the decrepit corpse of last year’s Mid-Biennium Review (MBR) – a plan that would have seen a drop in personal income taxes but at the cost of higher energy costs, an increase in the regressive state cigarette tax, taxes on tobacco harm reduction products like e-cigarettes and vapor products, and an increase in taxes on small businesses. The MBR called for a 15-percent increase in the state CAT tax, a tax on doing business in the State of Ohio measured by a business’s gross receipts. The CAT tax changes, at the time, would have amounted to a $743 million tax increase by 2017.

Ohio’s oil and gas industry, under the prior MBR proposal, would have seen the oil and gas severance tax rate increase to 2.75-percent of a producer’s gross receipts. Americans for Tax Reform noted at the time: “One of the most startling components of the oil and gas tax increase, however, is the divergence of 20-percent of severance tax revenue to local governments in shale oil and gas producing regions. The state monies would be overseen by a new government bureaucracy called the Ohio Shale Gas Regional Commission (a nine member board appointed by the Governor). On the positive side, Gov. Kasich is pushing for the elimination of severance taxes on small convention gas producers – less than 910,000 cu.ft/quarter). All-in-all, the severance tax increase would amount to an $874 million tax hike by 2017. 

The final tax increase component of last year’s MBR was an increase in taxes on tobacco products and e-cigarette and vapor products. Americans for Tax Reform noted at the time: Another troubling component of Gov. Kasich’s MBR is the regressive tax hike placed on tobacco consumers. Over a two year period Ohio’s tax on cigarettes would increase from $1.25 to $1.85 a pack. This tax increase will be borne primarily by lower-income earners. Even more important, tobacco taxes have repeatedly proven to be a declining source of revenue and an inadequate pay-for for permanent income tax reductions.”

“Along the same lines of the proposed tobacco tax increase, Gov. Kasich has proposed an equivalent tax on e-cigarette and vapor products.  Currently, under Ohio law, these products are not taxed in the same manner as tobacco products. The fact is, e-cigarettes and vapor products are not equivalent to tobacco products and are often used as a means to quit harmful combustible tobacco products.”

Gov. Kasich’s announcement today means that the major components of the MBR will once again dominate his legislative agenda, along with increased regulations on fracking and charter schools. According to The Columbus Dispatch, Kasich stated: “We are going to fix the lack of regulation on charter schools.” He went on to call for more regulation of the fracking method of oil and gas extraction that is fueling the state’s energy renaissance and providing new jobs.  Last year – when Gov. Kasich proposed his MBR – Americans for Tax Reform was clear, the plan was less than inspiring. It remains so.

Today’s Gov. John Kasich pales in comparison to the John Kasich of two-decades ago – a tax cutting, budget balancing Reagan conservative. After leaving the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C., John Kasich said: “When I left Washington, we actually had a balanced budget and we paid down the most amount of the national debt in modern history and cut taxes and created jobs. And I was the chief architect of that plan in '97.” What happened to that John Kasich?

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JeffersonOh

Bye the way....What ever happened to the hundred million or so Ohio received from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement?

I was once a Kasich supporter but have moved away from him as he in turns moves left. I would consider him a moderate with zero chance of any Presidential nomination.


Gov. Brownback Proposes Efficiencies, Spending Restraint in New Budget Plan

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Posted by Will Upton on Tuesday, December 9th, 2014, 3:50 PM PERMALINK


Kansas Governor Sam Brownback continues efforts to reform the Kansas state government, this time with a rollback in state spending and enacting efficiencies to state programs. The general fund allotment plan would address the state’s projected $280 million overspending problem in FY 2015.

The plan would enact a four percent reduction in spending to “Cabinet Level and Other SGF [State General Fund] Funded Agencies.” The Kansas Legislature would also be asked to vote on a four percent reduction in their spending as well. In addition to enacting spending restrain regarding state general funds, Gov. Brownback has proposed using efficiencies to find savings in non-general fund accounts including the Highway Fund.

Americans for Tax Reform applauds Gov. Brownback for continuing to engage in much needed fiscal reforms in Kansas and building on historic tax cuts. Additional reforms that could be pursued to reduce the state’s overspending problem include moving to a defined contribution pension plan, pushing for the adoption of zero-based budgeting, and the adoption of reforms recommended in the Kansas Policy Institutes model budget plan.

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Kansas City District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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Taxpayers Sweep Top Five Ballot Measures


Posted by Will Upton, John Kartch on Wednesday, November 5th, 2014, 3:34 AM PERMALINK


On Tuesday, taxpayers overwhelmingly prevailed in each of the top five binding tax related ballot measures:
 
53% – 47% in Massachusetts – Question 1: In deep blue Massachusetts, voters repealed a law that indexed the state gas tax to inflation – eliminating a vote-less backdoor tax hike on taxpayers. 
 
80%  20% in Wisconsin – Question 1: From now on, the state gas tax must only be used to fund Wisconsin’s transportation system. Over the past 10 years, Wisconsin’s legislature has raided the state’s transportation fund to the tune of $1.4 billion. 
 
80% – 20% in Nevada – Question 3: In Harry Reid’s home state, voters defeated a proposed two percent "margin tax" on businesses. The revenue from the new tax was to be granted to the state’s public school districts. 

66% – 34% in Tennessee – Amendment 3: Voters enshrined in the state constitution a prohibition on state and local income taxes. 

74% – 26% in Georgia – Amendment A: Voters enshrined in the state constitution a cap on the state income tax at the effective rate on January 1, 2015. Therefore the state legislature is now constitutionally prohibited from increasing the state income tax rate any higher.

Not only did voters directly reject tax increases, they rejected gubernatorial candidates who championed higher taxes — even in deep blue states such as Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland.
 

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Rednecksrule

And here is another tax voters don't want-- OPEN BORDERS! Did you know Norquist that surges of poverty from Central America that you support with your endless zeal for amnesty cost US taxpayers billions? You didn't win on Tuesday, American citizens who oppose guys like you did.


Brownback Win A Victory for Kansas Taxpayers

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Posted by Will Upton on Tuesday, November 4th, 2014, 11:39 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform would like to applaud the victory of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback over Democrat challenger Paul Davis. Gov. Brownback’s win is a boon to Kansas taxpayers who will continue to see more money in their wallets and better job growth in the state.

Called one of the most important races in the country, the Kansas governor’s race became the epicenter of the low-tax fight. The Democrat Party and their spending-interest allies ran a misleading smear campaign against the governor and his efforts to reform the Kansas tax code to the state more competitive with its neighbors.

“Tonight the voters of Kansas returned a champion of the taxpayer to the Kansas governor’s office. Gov. Sam Brownback ignited the Mid-West tax rebellion and began and led the great 50 state race to a zero-percent income tax,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “With Gov. Brownback’s re-election, other governors have seen that the Kansas model is both politically practical and exportable. By 2050, all 50 states should be able reduce their state income taxes to zero.”

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UPDATE: Bill Walker Campaign Disputes Authorship of Pro-Income Tax Letter

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Posted by Will Upton on Monday, November 3rd, 2014, 3:15 PM PERMALINK


Alaska gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker’s campaign has disputed the authorship of a 2004 letter to the editor calling for a state income tax in Alaska. A man claiming to be another Bill Walker (identified by the Walker for Governor campaign as William C. Walker) has come forward on a Blogspot blog with the username “Mo ‘Poxy”, taking credit for the 2004 letter – though the user’s identity is unclear.

Ultimately it is up to the voters of Alaska to decide if candidate Bill Walker actually wrote the letter to the editor. They should be reminded, though, that Bill Walker, unlike Sean Parnell, has not ruled out higher taxes by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

You can read the original post with the full letter to the editor here.

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Alaska Governor Candidate Bill Walker Backed Creating State Income Tax

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Posted by Will Upton on Thursday, October 30th, 2014, 12:30 PM PERMALINK


What does Alaska gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker really believe? On October 11, He told the Alaska Dispatch News: “I have no intention to implement a statewide tax or paying for state government by reducing Permanent Fund dividend checks.  If we properly develop out natural resources and put in place a sustainable budget that should not be necessary.”

Yet, he is the same Bill Walker who wrote: “We must establish a state income tax.  With a tax, the people will pay closer attention as the state painfully spends our hard earned tax dollars.  Our legislators will be frugal knowing that they are spending their constituents’ tax dollars.  Our legislators will be frugal knowing that their constituents are paying attention.”

Alaskans should ask Walker, who has NOT signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge – a promise from elected officials to their constituents not to raise taxes – what he really believes. Given his shifting stance on a state income tax, it seems like Walker embodies the worst aspects of Washington, D.C.-style politics.

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Seven State Ballot Measures to Watch on Tuesday

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Posted by Will Upton on Wednesday, October 29th, 2014, 4:56 PM PERMALINK


There are seven major state ballot tax fights that will be decided next Tuesday. Americans for Tax Reform has highlighted each of these ballot measures individually, but below, you can find a brief summary of each of the seven as well as a link to a more in depth description.

Massachusetts – Question 1 “Eliminating Gas Tax Indexing”: An initiated state statute, Question 1 could repeal a law passed this past legislative session indexing the Massachusetts state gas tax to inflation – eliminating a vote-less backdoor tax hike on taxpayers. For more information, click here.  

Washington State – Advisory Question 8: A non-binding advisory question, the ballot measure deals with the state’s recently legalized marijuana industry, specifically, the state legislature’s decision to deem the industry non-agricultural – exposing consumers to a higher tax burden than they would have with other agricultural products. All-in-all, consumers will face a $24.9 million tax increase over the next decade. For more information, click here.

Tennessee – Amendment 3 “No State Income Tax Amendment”: Tennessee Amendment 3 is a legislatively referred ballot measure that would prohibit the state government and local governments from instituting a state or local income tax. The passage of Amendment 3 would enshrine Tennessee’s position as a no-income tax state in the state constitution and require a much greater threshold to enact a state income tax. For more information, click here.

Nevada – Question 3 “The Education Initiative”: Despite the innocuous sounding name, Nevada’s Question 3 would implement a new 2% "margin tax" on businesses operating in the state of Nevada. The revenue from the new tax would be granted to the state’s public school districts. The Question was placed on the ballot via indirect initiative, meaning that a public petition was circulated and then sent to the legislature for approval to be placed on the ballot. For more information, click here.

Wisconsin – Question 1 “Creation of a Transportation Fund”: This legislatively referred constitutional amendment would legally dedicate revenues generated by use of the state transportation system, namely the state gas tax, to be used only for funding Wisconsin’s transportation system. Over the past 10 years, Wisconsin’s legislature has raided the state’s transportation fund to the tune of $1.4 billion. For more information, click here.

Illinois – Advisory Question “Millionaire Tax Increase for Education Question”: In Illinois, Advisory Questions can be placed on the ballot to gauge public opinion on potential legislation – although the ballot result is non-binding. In this specific case, voters are being asked whether they would support the legislature enacting an additional three percent tax on income greater than $1 million for the purpose of granting school districts additional revenue. This past legislative session, a “Millionaire” Tax bill failed to gain the necessary votes in the Illinois legislature. For more information, click here.

Georgia – Amendment A “To prohibit an increase in the state income tax rate in effect January 1, 2015 (Senate Resolution 415)”: The ballot measure is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that would cap the state income tax at the effective rate on January 1, 2015. This would mean that the state legislature would be constitutionally prohibited from increasing the state income tax rate any higher. For more information, click here.

Americans for Tax Reform’s President, Grover Norquist, and State Affairs Manager William Upton recently released a podcast discussing these ballot measures below.

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Georgia Voters To Decide Whether to Cap State Income Tax Rates

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Posted by Will Upton on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014, 5:00 AM PERMALINK


On November 4, Georgia voters will decide whether to adopt Amendment A: “To prohibit an increase in the state income tax rate in effect January 1, 2015 (Senate Resolution 415).” The ballot measure is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that would cap the state income tax at the effective rate on January 1, 2015. This would mean that the state legislature would be constitutionally prohibited from increasing the state income tax rate any higher. The measure reads: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to prohibit the General Assembly from increasing the maximum state income tax rate?” 

If passed, the Constitution of Georgia would be amended with the addition of Paragraph IV in Section 3 of Article VII reading: “Paragraph IV. Increase in state income tax rate prohibited. The General Assembly shall not increase the maximum marginal rate of the state income tax above that in effect on January 1, 2015.” This would have the effect of enacting a supermajority requirement to increase income taxes in Georgia as the state constitution would need to be again amended to do so.

David Shafer, the President Pro Tem of the Georgia State Senate and sponsor of the referendum, said of the effort to cap the state income tax: “It makes it clear that our income tax rate is not going up. It helps increase our competitiveness by pointing out to businesses making expansion decisions that while other states could increase their rates tomorrow our rates are constitutionally capped.” The Atlanta Journal Constitution quoted Jeffrey Dorfman, a professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Georgia, in support of Amendment A: “It’s the credibility thing: If businesses feel like they can trust you, then they’re more likely to create jobs in your community. So this cap signals to businesses, we promise we’re not going to become New York or California or Illinois. We’re going to stay a good place to do business.”

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