Two days after Secretary of State Ken Bennett formally announced his entrance into Arizona’s gubernatorial race, the former state senator presented his economic plan Thursday morning to Maricopa business leaders.
Bennett’s proposal, which he previously announced this week, is to replace Arizona’s income tax with a “low-rate, broad-based” sales tax.
By doing so, Bennett said a resident’s tax burden would be proportional to his or her standard of living.
“If you spend $250, you’ll pay taxes on $250,” he said.
Bennett spoke to local business leaders at a monthly breakfast meeting presented by the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce inside Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort. The secretary’s comments about his economic plan followed a presentation in which he explained piece-by-piece what makes up the state budget.
Bennett’s presentation has become known as the “Kleenex Box presentation” – named for his stacking of labeled tissue boxes to visually breakdown the budget’s components. Past presentations can be viewed in YouTube videos, and Bennett said he plans to film an updated version.
The secretary told attendees he believed the state’s No. 1 goal during the next four to eight years should be to grow Arizona’s economy.
“I’d like to see growth in our economy at 6, or 8, or even 10 percent a year,” he said.
In addition to making changes to the state’s tax policies, Bennett said he’d focus on improving the state’s education system as well as making sure regulatory policies are reasonable for new businesses.
By getting rid of income tax, Arizona would be an attractive place for companies, he said. Bennett is proposing getting rid of both corporate and individual income taxes.
If implemented, Arizona would join a handful of states, such as Texas, Florida and Wyoming that do not tax personal income.
Bennett estimated if the state’s economy grew by 8 or 10 percent a year for the next four years, the state’s overall revenue could grow to $12 billion.
The state’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee has projected the current fiscal year will end with $8.5 billion in revenue.Bennett added he thought it was time for a governor from rural Arizona – a person who will think about economic development outside Maricopa County. Bennett was born in Tucson, but grew up in the Prescott area.
The secretary has joined a Republican primary field that includes state Sen. Al Melvin, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Christine Jones, the former executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for Go Daddy Operating Company LLC.