By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
John Dougherty's article about income-tax cuts during the Symington era ("Fife's Myth," October 9) showed how the wealthiest Arizonans received the largest tax cuts. However, what he did not point out is how these cuts have made Arizona's taxes even more regressive than they were. When we say Arizona has a regressive tax system, what we mean is that low- and middle-income families in Arizona pay considerably higher shares of their incomes in state and local taxes than do the richest Arizonans. According to a recent study by Citizens for Tax Justice:
* Arizona families earning less than $21,000--the poorest fifth of Arizona non-elderly married couples--pay 11.3 percent of their income in Arizona state and local taxes.
* Middle-income Arizona families earning between $21,000 and $51,000 pay 8.7 percent of their income in Arizona state and local taxes.
* But the richest Arizona families--with average incomes of $584,000--pay only 7.2 percent of their income in Arizona state and local taxes. When the federal deduction offset is considered, the richest Arizonans pay only a 5.3 percent state-tax rate--less than half the rate paid by the lowest 20 percent of our population.
The total tax bill is made up of three components--income, property and sales taxes. Of the three, the income tax is the only one which is progressive, meaning that the wealthier pay a higher percentage than is paid by middle- or lower-income individuals. Therefore, when people talk about moving the income-tax system closer to a "flat tax," what they are proposing is to make total tax receipts more dependent on the regressive components--the sales and property taxes.
Dougherty compared the taxes after the latest cut to those in 1990. But, if we look at this year's cut of more than $100 million, we find that it was even more skewed toward benefiting the wealthiest Arizonans. According to a study by the econometrics section of the Arizona Department of Revenue, the tax cut for those in the $30,000 to $40,000 range averaged $45, while the tax cut for those earning more than $1 million averaged more than $8,000.
Arizona needs a governor and legislators who are more concerned about the economic well-being of our middle- and lower-income citizens. We could get such politicians if we had a campaign system which did not make the candidates beholden to contributions from the wealthy.
Gary Tredway, chair
Arizonans for Clean Elections
I find the response of Arizona citizens and politicians to Fife Symington's criminal conviction very odd. Many individuals, Governor Jane Hull included, feel that Symington's ejection from the top floor of the Capitol building is punishment enough for his crimes. They apparently feel that this man has suffered enough.
I firmly disagree. Symington was born with a silver spoon in his mouth; he has benefited from every advantage in life, including a wealthy family, the best of schools and the wherewithal to enjoy an extravagant lifestyle. Even now these benefits continue; while in the process of filing bankruptcy with his creditors, he still manages to take European vacations.
Here we have a man who enthusiastically embraced a tough stand against criminals, was the architect of truth in sentencing and demanded adult punishment for juveniles. If children are required to be responsible for their actions, I believe it is high time for Symington to live up to the standards he himself set for society.
People such as Governor Hull would have Symington's sentence consist of no more than the loss of his job. I was unaware that termination from one's job was a provision of the criminal code. Personally, I believe that society should bring back debtor's prison and make people responsible for the debt they saddle society with. In Symington's case, it would be a life sentence.
As a big fan of the Rolling Stones, I found Gilbert Garcia's review of Bridges to Babylon ("Emotional Miscues," October 9) almost off the mark. I believe that since Steel Wheels, the Stones' studio recordings have gotten better. There seems to be a conscientious effort to make each album sound fresher. I do agree that Keith Richards' offerings for this new one are pretty weak. But for the most part, songs like "Saint of Me" and "Gunface" (which I thought was the gutsiest song of the whole album) show there's still life in the old boys yet.
On behalf of the Arizona Humane Society, thanks to New Times for acknowledging our efforts in the Best of Phoenix supplement (September 18) by naming our weekly show, Pets on Parade, the Best Local TV Show. Additional thanks for singling out our cat adoption area as the Valley's Best New Residential Development.