Arizona Policy Choices

Balancing Acts: Tax Cuts and Public Policy in Arizona

Why Study Tax Cuts in Arizona Now?

Rob Melnick, Director,
Morrison Institute for Public Policy

This edition of Arizona Policy Choices is devoted to tax policy. More specifically, it focuses on the issue of tax cuts in Arizona. Government revenue, particularly in the form of taxes, enables public officials to provide government programs and services. Thus, the effect that taxes—sustained or cut—have on other policy issues is profound. And clearly, taxes (or the relative lack thereof) are at the very core of important philosophical debates over the role that government should play in people's lives. Thus, this topic seemed most fitting as the point of departure for Arizona Policy Choices.

Even so, some readers may still wonder why this topic was chosen for study at this time. They may point to the fact that recent elections around the country (on “first Tuesday” 1997) made clear the electorate's desire to lower or eliminate state and local taxes, and to favor candidates who promised to do so. Indeed, the best time to consider all aspects of an issue is when it is currently in vogue. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for politicians and other policy leaders to "go with the flow" by making popular decisions rather than informed decisions.

The role of a public policy research institute should be, among other things, that of “contrarian.” It should always challenge conventional wisdom, bypass partisanship, and present a balanced view of the options available to policymakers. Thus, this volume on state tax cuts in Arizona is a comprehensive look at tax policy and tax cuts in Arizona. It provides both quantitative and qualitative analyses, offers time-honored philosophies, and presents passionate cases for the various choices inherent in making state fiscal policy. In this way, it emphasizes the notion of policy guiding politics, not the other way around.

Balancing Act: Tax Cuts and Public Policy in Arizona is a compendium. It includes original articles by Arizona policy practitioners and observers, reprints of pertinent articles by experts beyond Arizona, and a list for further reading. Articles of varying lengths and complexities are purposefully included so as to offer something to readers with different levels of interest in and knowledge of the subject matter.

As with all volumes in the Arizona Policy Choices series, readers are presented with both fact and opinion. The articles on state tax cuts in Arizona in this particular volume are grouped according to four major policy choices, including:

  • developing a state tax policy that considers business cycles in addition to other factors to determine if tax cuts are warranted
  • continuing Arizona's trend of making tax cuts with the intent of stimulating the economy and reducing the tax burden on residents
  • using a dependable stream of tax revenue to invest in and improve Arizona, instead of cutting taxes
  • evaluating proposed tax cuts according to their budgetary consequences

Arizona Policy Choices provides data and analyses of this wide range of policy options with the hope that they will enable our policy leaders to make decisions that will truly improve Arizona in the future.

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Morrison Institute for Public Policy