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Arizona Tax Vote a Victory for Reality Over Rhetoric

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Despite all the harsh anti-government talk in Washington and around the country, voters in Arizona yesterday did something that will surprise lots of people:  they said they wanted to pay more taxes.

What’s going on?  Reality is trumping rhetoric — and not just in Arizona.

In approving a temporary, one-cent increase in the sales tax, Arizonans shared the sentiment expressed by a woman quoted in the Arizona Republic: “‘My kids go to school right there,’ she said, pointing to Gilbert Elementary School. ‘Their class sizes have gotten so big.  I mean, they’ve cut art teachers, they’ve cut librarians, speech therapy.’”

It’s getting to be a trend.  In January, Oregon voters rejected two proposals to repeal increases in the state’s personal and corporate income tax rates.  Last November, Maine and Washington voters soundly defeated measures that would have imposed crippling, arbitrary spending limits on state and local governments.

People in these states want to preserve essential services despite the historic drop in state revenues during the recession, even if it means paying a little more than they otherwise would.  They understand that a balanced approach — one that includes revenues — is preferable to a cuts-only strategy that leaves struggling families on their own, fails to invest in future prosperity, and damages the economy through job loss and lower consumer demand.

Arizona, Oregon, Maine, and Washington are also cutting spending.  But like most states, they know there’s no one way to solve a crisis this big.  That’s why, along with program cuts, more than 30 states have raised taxes since the recession hit.