During a recent Arizona Chamber of Commerce gubernatorial candidate forum, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is running for governor, said she would not raise taxes if elected. Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), asks political candidates to sign a pledge to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to raise taxes,” but Hobbs has not responded to the group’s repeated requests.
Norquist told The Arizona Sun Times, “Her statement that she has no plan now to raise taxes is the classic response of people who intend to raise taxes. We have shared the pledge twice with her and she has refused to make a written commitment to oppose.”
He went on, “She voted for tax hikes that weren’t even going to pass, wildly unpopular. And voted against lower taxes for the citizens of the state. If my neighbor told me he had no plans to eat my cat, I would keep my cat inside. If I lived in Arizona, I would hide my wallet. I’ve heard a lot of people try to sound like they don’t want to raise taxes. If you say it really quickly, it sounds like they said it. Keep your cat inside.”
When asked by ACC President and CEO Danny Seiden during the forum if she would raise taxes, Hobbs responded, “Absolutely not. I am pro-growth.” She pointed out that raising taxes requires a two-thirds vote in the Arizona Legislature, which would make it difficult.
Instead, Hobbs said in a new ad that she will cut taxes to help Arizonans deal with inflation, cutting income taxes for 800,000 families and exempting diapers, baby formula, and over-the-counter medicine from sales tax. However, in 2015, she voted against HB 2001, which indexed the Arizona income tax for inflation.
The American Conservative Union (ACU) rated Hobbs a low score of 14.81 based on examining 113 of her votes as an Arizona legislator. With one striking exception, not a single vote reflected an inclination to reduce or eliminate taxes, and many of them directly or indirectly raised or extended taxes.
The exception was Hobbs’ support of HB 2272 in 2014, which provided a tax credit to employers that meet certain criteria. The ACU opposed the bill, which they described as extending “a special tax break to ‘qualified’ investors who support new businesses as defined by the Arizona Commerce Authority.” The ACU said it “opposes the government picking winners and losers in the marketplace.”
In 2015, Hobbs voted against SB 1188, which would give taxpayers the same ceiling of $500,000 for business expense write-offs that the federal tax system provides. She opposed SCR 1001 repealing Clean Elections, Arizona’s taxpayer-funded campaign system. She voted against HB 2079, which required election materials for bond measures to include the words “property tax measure.” Similarly, she opposed HB 2109, which required Arizona’s taxing authority to write ballot questions in a way that voters are told a new spending initiative would be paid for with higher taxes.
Additionally, in 2015, Hobbs opposed SB 1318, which banned taxpayer funding of abortions. She voted against HB 2153, tax relief for small businesses. She voted against SB 1241, which prohibits taxing bags, bottles, and containers.
In 2016, Hobbs voted against SB 1523, which made it more difficult for local taxing authorities to raise taxes by more than 15 percent. She voted in favor of HB 2495, which gives taxpayers’ money to raceways.
In 2018, she sponsored SB 1316, which would have doubled the gas tax. She voted for HB 2166 to hike motor vehicle fees, which “circumvent[ed] the no new tax pledge taken by the governor and others by classifying the increase as a ‘fee’ instead of a ‘tax,’ according to the ACU. She supported HB 2478, which extended the ability of Pima County to levy taxes for sports facilities and events.
Additionally that year, Hobbs voted for HB 2166, a $32 alternative fuel vehicle license tax. It proved to be unpopular and was rescinded after she left the legislature. She voted for SB 1324, which would have established 131 new auditors and tax collectors at the Arizona Department of Revenue if it had passed.
Most recently, Hobbs supported Prop. 208 in 2020, an education tax increase which was struck down by the courts.
Hobbs’ opponent, Trump-endorsed Kari Lake, takes a much stronger position against tax hikes. She said during the forum that she would be “for lowering taxes every place that we can,” including bringing the income tax “down to zero.” Lake released an ad this month discussing how she will cut taxes, which includes income, sales, and property taxes.
Norquist told The Sun Times he met with Lake twice recently, and she not only signed the pledge early on in the race but signed it again. “She would oppose and veto any as governor,” he said.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Katie Hobbs” by Katie Hobbs. Background Photo “Arizona Capitol’ by Marine 69-71. CC BY-SA 3.0.