• Rich golfer whines about taxes, President of AZ Chamber is eager to lick his cleats.
    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 25 January, 10:36 AM  0 
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    Glenn Hamer, President of the AZ Chamber of Commerce and Industry, invited the huddled masses of whiny rich Californians to Arizona in the form of an “open letter” to famous multi-millionaire golfer and whiner-about-taxes Phil Mickelson.

    Dear Phil,

    I read your recent comments about the crushing tax burden California has imposed on wage earners like yourself. You said that you might even move out of California. Allow me to suggest Arizona – your former home – as your next home.

    Though my time playing golf is usually limited to courses where I try to hit the ball into a miniature windmill, you and I have a lot in common. We’re both left-handers. We’re both Arizona State grads, you with a Bachelor’s, me from the law school. You’re a member of the ASU athletics Hall of Fame. I enjoy watching ASU sports.

    More importantly, though, we both understand the impact high taxes have on a state’s economy and its hard working residents. A high-tax environment drives capital and people out of state, which explains why California is currently experiencing an unprecedented exodus of wealth.

    It’s apparent you’re not alone in your high-tax sentiments. Even your sometimes rival on the golf course, Tiger Woods, said California’s high-tax environment is why he left the state for Florida.

    California’s current top income tax rate of 13.3 percent is a good enough reason to pack up one’s clubs and move on.

    Sure, California has sandy beaches and sunshine, but that doesn’t dull the sting of paying out nearly half your income in total taxes. It’s hard to enjoy the ocean when you’re watching your hard earned money float out to sea.

    Arizona has sunshine and sand (traps), too. And while California has been pursuing a flawed economic strategy, we’ve been making all the right moves.

    Over the past two years, Gov. Jan Brewer and the Legislature have worked hard to make Arizona a state that is known for job growth and creation. They’ve decreased the corporate income tax rate, lowered the tax on business property and equipment, cut taxes on investment income and have made Arizona’s tax code more attractive to businesses selling goods and services outside our borders. While California was raising its taxes (again), our voters rejected a massive permanent tax hike. We’ve also balanced our budget.

    The per-capita income going to taxes in Arizona is just 8.7 percent, compared to the national average of 9.8 percent and California’s burden of 11.8 percent. That leaves more money for vacations to your favorite beaches (including those in California) or for purchasing a Major League Baseball team.

    We’ve also cut back on unnecessary regulations, freeing up businesses to expand without the worry of frivolous government interference. You can’t even go into a Starbucks in California without a Proposition 65 warning of the dangers of coffee.

    All of these efforts have resulted in Arizona’s move up the leaderboard. Arizona received the title of number one state for entrepreneurial activity in 2011 and was ranked a Top-10 state for business in 2012. We also ranked second – just behind North Dakota – for states with the best job-growth forecast.

    I’ll put this all in terms you can appreciate: If Arizona competed in The Masters of economic competitiveness, we’d end up with the coveted green jacket.

    Phil, you know better than anyone that you can’t beat the golf here. You’re already a crowd favorite come Waste Management Phoenix Open time. So go pack your clubs and call the movers.

    Just don’t take too long. I could really use some tips on my swing.



    I’ll leave aside Hamer’s cringe-inducing brown-nosing to address a few of his statements. First, the “per-capita income going to taxes” figure of 8.7% is an average that tells you nothing about what any individual taxpayer in Arizona pays. When the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) broke tax rates down by income level, they found that Arizona ranked among the most regressive of the states, with the poorest workers paying a whopping 12.5% of their income toward state and local taxes and Hamer’s top 1% idols skating by on 5.6%. I’m curious why Hamer doesn’t highlight how much less than the Tax Foundation’s average figure Mickelson would probably pay were he to move to AZ, since it’s actually helpful to his sales pitch.

    Next, this business about Arizona balancing its budget ignores how California has balanced its (much larger) budget as well, with every dollar raised by the dreaded Prop 30 matched with $3 in spending cuts. Poor people and children are paying a way bigger price in both California and Arizona for budget balancing than dear, sweet over-taxed Phil Mickelson ever will.

    Finally, these constant apples-to-oranges comparisons between states vis a vis “competitiveness” and “entrepreneurial activity” and whatnot are simply pointless. North Dakota has a population of less than 3/4 of a million. Arizona has about 6.5 million people. California has about 37.7 million people. There is no tax or business-friendliness policy in the world that would absorb a massive influx of people from California into Arizona, and certainly not into North Dakota. So of what possible use are any of those measures to dear, sweet Phil Mickelson? If his concerns are tax rates and golf courses, he might as well move to Costa Rica.


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    Donna Gratehouse

    Post Author: Donna Gratehouse

    Bio: I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/

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