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Maricopa County Libertarian Party

So It's Either Food or Security, Mayor Gordon?

February 11, 2010
 by Kimberly Ruff


On February 2, 2010, Mayor Phil Gordon called a special meeting of the Phoenix City Council to vote on a citywide food tax. The council approved the measure 6-3, but has scheduled a series of budget meetings throughout February to weigh its prudence. If the Council follows through on their decision, the sales tax will go into effect in April and will last five years. While they have discussed a 2% sales tax, they reserve the option to increase it at a later date. This is the Phoenix Libertarian's Opinion Piece.

From our perspective, there are multiple problems with Mayor Gordon and the Phoenix City Council’s Food Tax.

Gordon’s proposal is fundamentally flawed. From a political standpoint, the City Council has chosen to take the tact that without a food tax, first responders such as police and fire will face the axe. In essence, the message sent is that if we do not allow the City of Phoenix to take this money from us, they will no longer be able to protect us. It’s a tactic designed to frighten the citizenry into compliance.

Furthermore, Mayor Gordon and the City Council are fully aware that most people, regardless of political affiliation, agree that fire responders are necessary functions of government. By placing the most necessary programs and services on the chopping block, they again force our hand on the issue.

While this is a politically beneficial maneuver, it fails to adequately represent the reality.

The reality is that the Phoenix City Council has done a miserable job reducing their spending. An overview of their 2009/2010 Budget shows a sizeable increase of $1.3 billion from their 2004/2005 figures ($3.6 billion and $2.3 billion, respectively). While population growth and inflation contribute to a rise in spending, it does not account for such a drastic increase. The fact of the matter is that the City of Phoenix continues to spend astronomically more than they take in, and rather than take a cue from businesses that decrease their expenses and reduce payroll in times of limited income, they pass the responsibility onto the taxpayers.

At a time when not just governments, but the people that they claim to represent, are negatively impacted by an economic recession, the worst possible thing the City of Phoenix can do is force their citizens to fork over more money by taxing the contents of our forks.

While there is no denying that the Libertarian Party would support privatization of many of the departments and services of our government, this is not the intent of our opposition to the Food Tax. We recognize the critical value of first-responders like fire and police, and have no desire to penalize those that work tirelessly to save our lives and property. More importantly, however, we have no desire to see citizens penalized because the City of Phoenix refuses to balance their budget.

We firmly believe that the City of Phoenix is wholly capable of doing so and humbly request that they stop threatening to cut police and fire and focus their attention of other, less crucial programs.

Related Content:

The Language of Liberty - Kimberly Ruff
Phoenix, Drunken Politicians and a New Food Tax - Jim Iannuzo
Phoenix Offers No Reason For CityNorth Appeal - Jim Iannuzo

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User Comments:
Tom Milton, on 2/11/2010 at 11:26am, said:

What puzzles me is this accusation of deficit spending. The Federal government prints money so they can deficit spend, but smaller levels of governement do not have that ability. The City of Phoenix has no choice but to balance its budget, which is why they are looking at covering this $240 million dolalr shortfall by making $100 million in one-time cuts as well as cutting services throughout Phoenix by another $90 million. The remaining $50 million will be covered by eliminating a food exemption on their sales tax that nearly every other city in Maricopa already has.

Nick Coons, on 2/14/2010 at 8:51am, said:

"What puzzles me is this accusation of deficit spending."

Deficit spending can come in a form other than printing money, such as spending surplus funds from previous years, or borrowing (such as bonds, if the city's charter allows it). A "deficit" occurs whenever expenditures exceed revenue (and loans from banks, bonds, or other sources are not revenue), no matter the method.

"The remaining $50 million will be covered by eliminating a food exemption on their sales tax that nearly every other city in Maricopa already has."

Let's hope not. You cannot use a bad law (i.e. every other city does it) to justify another bad law. If every other city were to jump off a bridge... :-)

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