Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Why is Jan Brewer greasing the skids for the Rosemont Copper project?

Our "friend" Steve Yarbrough introduced SB1413, a sales tax giveaway to manufacturing and smelting businesses in Arizona. The language in the bill exempts the following from TPT, the transaction privilege tax, in our state.
Gross proceeds of sales or gross income derived from sales of electricity for use in manufacturing or smelting operations.  For the purposes of this paragraph, "manufacturing" and "smelting" refer to and include those operations commonly understood within their ordinary meaning. 
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When Republicans are inclined to resist a proposal for government spending, they do so with demands that the "fiscal impact" be disclosed.

In THIS case, Gov. Brewer's lobbyist, Michael Hunter, slithered away from the only related question any member of the Senate Finance Committee posed to him about the bill. Sen. Steve Farley (D-LD9/Tucson) asked about the financial impact, an obvious question since this bill directly reduces general fund revenue.

Hunter said, "the worst thing I can do is to develop numbers that are mistaken or wrong." Pretty slimy, er... slippery, wouldn't you say?

When it's the GOP that wants to resist, they don't put up with that kind of a response.

Put to him again, Hunter said essentially that they have the numbers but are just not at the place where they're ready to tell the legislature what they are.

Again, this is a DIRECT assault on general fund revenues. And Governor Brewer is pushing for it.

Glenn Hamer, head of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry appeared to have read a prepared statement, which pervasively OOZED with vague rhetoric appearing to have been designed to hypnotize the committee members into a state of willing compliance. He opened with, "On behalf of this state's job creators, I strongly support..." removal of the TPT from electric bills for manufacturers.

Hamer's rah rah rah speech included platitudes like "we all win when we get these jobs" and "Arizona has done a lot over the last few years to improve its competitive position."

In other words, Glenn Hamer and Michael Hunter were apparently highly effective in baffling ALL of the committee members with BULLSHIT. But neither cited ANY evidence of correlation between the "improved competitive position" and jobs of any kind in Arizona, let alone high paying jobs.

Farley at least tried, by offering two amendments, to address the fact that this bill is a direct, even if stealthy, assault on the ways and means to operate state AND local government. He was rebuffed. Politely, but rebuffed in no uncertain terms nevertheless.

Really, the ONLY voice of reason in the entire discussion of SB1413 was the executive director of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns, Ken Strobeck. But because he's a lobbyist and not an activist, he was constrained to be polite in how and what he said to Yarbrough (committee chair and prime sponsor of SB1413).

Strobeck suggested taking municipalities out of the equation for this tax giveaway and mentioned that in other states where this type of legislation has been enacted, it has had performance standards, such as job creation requirements written into the law with it.

The bottom line is that SB1413 further shifts the burden for operation of state and local government -- because Brewer's snake slithered out of answering the questions -- to an undetermined but likely substantially large degree, onto the already overburdened shoulders of working class Arizonans.

Over the course of the last two decades, Arizona has grown increasingly reliant on TPT (sales taxes). Those taxes are dramatically regressive.

That regressiveness exacerbates the workaday stress on everyday Arizona families... families trying to raise children. Families who, when stress reaches a breaking point, have children that are then put at risk.

How soon we forget the ramifications of the public policy decisions our elected officials make. How long ago was it that Brewer called for a complete overhaul of Child Protective Services? Less than 40 days.

As I've recently written, everywhere I go, people are telling me their stories of how impossible it is to even tread water financially, even though they have full-time jobs.

So, the ultimate question has to be WHY are the Republican governor and legislature poised to put even more stress on working class Arizona?

The simple answer is -- because THEY CAN.

Which leads naturally to the question of why they can get away with it.

The answer to that question might be the same as the answer to why last week in Tennessee, auto workers voted against certifying union representation, the only mechanism they had to protect their own interests.

From where I sit, the answer is corporate media driven propaganda.

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Even though legislative testimony completely ignored the impact of SB1413 on the potential Rosemont Copper Mining project, that may have been the elephant in the room. "Smelting" was intentionally included in the bill but received ZERO attention during the Finance Committee debate.

Rosemont is a highly controversial project subject to federal and state regulatory permitting processes. The GOP wants to claim that it has "job creation" potential. But that argument completely ignores the fact that the adverse environmental impacts will decimate Southern Arizona's tourism industry and have untold adverse health ramifications on residents for miles around the mine.

The economic potential of the Rosemont project is highly speculative. The company behind the project has a dubious history that should make responsible government officials gravely skeptical. But in this case, the governor, the legislature and industry associations are falling all over themselves trying to get this project approved.

For more information about those who have developed the hype which has Rosemont proponents salivating, I recommend viewing investigative journalist John Dougherty's film, Cyanide Beach on YouTube.

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