Today, in his second State of the State Address, Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.) announced, “the state of the state isn’t just strong – it’s on the rise.” This optimism stands in contrast to a less than favorable outlook inherited by the governor. Just one year ago, Ducey inherited more than a $1.52 billion overspending problem for the 2015-2016 years to come.
As a 2014 candidate for governor, Ducey “vowed to not raise taxes or postpone a $226 million corporate tax-cut package” that was to be phased in over the next three years. He kept that promise in year one, despite immense pressure from special interests. Just two months into his first legislative session, he signed a “historically lean $9.1 billion Arizona budget… without raising taxes.”
In his 2016 State of the State address, Ducey mentioned taxes or taxpayers eight times. Here are a few mentions:
“When it came to balancing our budget, we were told: It just couldn’t be done. Not, without raising taxes. But we weren’t going to make the people of Arizona pay for the failings of politicians. So we got the job done, and instead of raising taxes, we lowered them.”
Ducey announced that he would be releasing his budget this Friday, “and the big spenders and special interests aren’t going to like it.”
On the budget, he noted:
“It eliminates waste. It’s balanced. And most importantly, it does not raise taxes. Now, I understand that it’s unusual for elected leaders to keep their promises, but let me assure you: I intend to keep mine.
Together, we will lower taxes this year. Next year. And the year after.”
The governor’s commitment to annual tax cuts is an important one given the scheduled phase-in of annual corporate rate reductions, reductions that some have called for postponing. Doing so would have constituted a tax increase, as the tax cuts are scheduled as a matter of existing law. Over the next two years, the state’s corporate rate will decrease to 4.9 percent.
Absent top rate reductions elsewhere, Arizona’s 4.9 percent corporate tax rate will make the state rate the fourth lowest top rate in the nation, behind Colorado (4.63 percent) North Dakota (4.31 percent), and North Carolina (4 percent). North Dakota cut its rate by 5 percent in 2015 and North Carolina’s rate is on a path to go to 3 percent next year. 6 states do not levy corporate income taxes.
Here are a few of his best lines:
"A year later, the big spenders who told us we couldn’t balance the budget, are beating the drum -- celebrating our hard work with plans to spend and party like it’s 1999. Some people never learn, no matter how much their heads hurt in the morning.
Someone needs to be the voice of sobriety. So when they bring out the punch bowl, I will be here to say ... once again... Not on our watch."
On Barry Goldwater and the number of bills Ducey saw and read in 2015:
"Last year, 1,163 bills were introduced. 344 crossed my desk, and 324 became law. I enjoyed reviewing all of them – yes, even the ones I didn’t sign. But sometimes, as the saying goes…if you want to learn something new, you need to read something old.
As Barry Goldwater wrote in ‘Conscience of a Conservative,’ “my aim is not to pass laws, it’s to repeal them.”
On unnecessary regulations?
“Send me legislation to allow agencies to wipe them out, easier and faster. And I’ll sign it.”
On unnecessary occupational licenses?
"Believe it or not, the state of Arizona actually licenses talent agents. I say, let’s leave the job of finding new talent to Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani – not state government.
The elites and special interests will tell you that these licenses are necessary. But often they have been designed to kill competition or keep out the little guy. So let’s eliminate them."
As a supporter of the free market and services like Uber and Lyft, the governor even created a “Council on the Sharing Economy” just before giving his remarks. Read the entire address here.