Republican Pete Hershberger is facing Al Melvin in the GOP primary for the Legislative District 26 Senate seat. ScrambleWatch asked him a few questions about state taxes. (You can compare his answers to Melvin’s here.)
Do you support the permanent repeal of the state property tax?
We suspended that back when our economy was good, saying we don’t know what the economy is going to be three years from now. Thankfully, we did that, because the economy is horrible now. I voted against (the permanent repeal this year) and I’m getting pounded. They say I’m supporting the largest tax increase in Arizona history. Well, it’s not a tax increase. It’s the end of the suspension. Both the House and Senate proposals this year borrowed more than $500 million for new school construction. Why would we borrow money to give a tax cut? That’s not fiscal responsibility. That doesn’t make sense to me.
Do you support borrowing for school construction?
Yes. We can’t get there from here without it. We couldn’t solve the budget crisis without borrowing. Both the House and the Senate versions included that. Arizona is the only state in the country that paid for new school construction out of the general fund. Every other state paid for it with a dedicated funding source—maybe a property tax or something like that. And when we were flush with cash, that’s OK. But we’re not flush with cash and we could not cut our way out of this problem. We could not have gotten the votes from the Democrats or the signature from the governor if we’d done all those cuts the way that leadership wanted us to.
Do you support the T.I.M.E. initiative, which would raise the sales tax by a penny per dollar to pay for highway, rail and local transportation projects?
I haven’t totally decided. We have the need, definitely. But one of the problems with the T.I.M.E. initiative is that it takes all our capacity. We then don’t have any capacity solving future needs of Arizona. Look at the tax burden it’s gonna put on Pima County. I wish it had been part-way there, not the whole way there.
You mean in terms of being a full cent per dollar?
Yeah. It just eats up all of our (taxing) capacity. It eliminates the possibility for going for anything else. And we can’t anticipate what we’re going to need years from now.