By Amber Smith | President and CEO of Tucson Metro Chamber
Championing business issues is the core mission of the Tucson Metro Chamber. We have a professional, experienced government affairs team that actively works with our Public Policy Council. That Council comprises individuals reflecting different political parties, industries and business sizes. The one tie that binds the group is diversity in thought founded on the basis of supporting and advocating for pro-business issues. As the Chamber does every year, the Council recommends positions on different initiatives as appropriate. The Council makes their recommendation to the Board who ultimately takes a position.
Prop 208 – Invest in Ed
Education is a top priority for the Tucson Metro Chamber and our member businesses – it must be. Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce. However, Prop 208 is a misguided and inadequate attempt to fund education in Arizona. As a result, the Tucson Metro Chamber encourages its members to vote “NO” on Proposition 208.
This initiative would create a new 3.5% income tax in addition to the existing 4.5% income tax – a staggering 78% increase – on incomes above $250,000 (single filing) or $500,000 (joint filing). This would place Arizona’s top income tax bracket within the top 10 highest taxed individuals in the country. This flies in the face of many small businesses that were formed using the individual income tax option available to them. The proposed tax increase will hurt local, small business owners who file as individuals as the top rate, plus the surcharge, is much higher than the top corporate income tax rate.
Regionally, our current top tax bracket is highly competitive. In looking at states that we directly compete with for jobs, Utah is 5.0%, Colorado is 4.6%, New Mexico 4.9%. Texas and Nevada do not have an income tax at all. Increasing Arizona’s top bracket to 8% will drive individuals and business away. In a time when economic incentives should be expanded, the passage of Proposition 208 would become a disincentive and stunt our state and region’s ability to attract new business. Education is a priority but unjust measures like this proposition sacrifice our job creators and small businesses.
Prop 207 - Smart and Safe
Proposition 207, the Smart and Safe Act, would legalize the possession and use of recreational marijuana for adults (over 21). If passed, the initiative would allow people to grow no more than six marijuana plants for personal use in their residence, and place a 16% tax on marijuana sales. The revenue from the tax is required to implement and enforce marijuana regulations and fund a variety of other programs. It would also allow anyone convicted of certain marijuana-related crimes to petition for expunging their criminal record starting July 12, 2021.
In 2016, Arizona voters rejected the previous attempt (Prop 205) to legalize recreational marijuana in a very close vote of 52.14% against to 47.86% in favor. The Chamber, as well as numerous other organizations throughout Arizona, opposed Prop 205 because of ambiguity on the ability to remain, and enforce, a drug-free workplace. Contrary to the 2016 proposition, this new initiative clearly allows employers to enforce policies for a drug-free workplace.
As a result, the Chamber Board of Directors has not taken a formal position on Prop 207. With protections for businesses to remain a drug-free environment, we believe the legalization of recreational marijuana use is not a business issue. We encourage everyone to read the text of Proposition 207, and decide for themselves the merits of the proposed legalization.
Prop 481 – Pima Community College Override
The Tucson Metro Chamber encourages its members to vote “YES” on Proposition 481. This measure would allow Pima Community College to increase the base expenditure limit by approximately $11 million to ensure PCC can spend tax revenue it is already receiving on the programs and educational services necessary to meet student career goals and employer workforce needs—without increasing taxes! If approved, Proposition 481 will ensure students are trained in high-demand, real-world skills. The specific programs that will be impacted include aviation, construction, manufacturing, hospitality, automotive, healthcare, information technology, and public safety and security.