Commentary

Now more than ever, Arizona families need an earned income tax credit

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Last week, I voted for the sixth and final budget of my legislative career as a state senator. The budget we produced is as indelible as it is historic, for the simple fact that it was bipartisan.

It has been almost two decades since the Arizona legislature came together to pass a budget not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but together, working for the common good of all Arizonans. Being a part of this year’s budget process and helping negotiate significant investments in our K-12 public schools and state universities will go down as one of my greatest accomplishments.

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By working together as Arizonans, we achieved a $1 billion dollar investment in education, with $800 million of that being new and permanent investment into K-12. We achieved another $1 billion for roads and over $300 million specifically for water infrastructure. It’s not hyperbole to say these investments are difference makers for our state.

Bipartisan budget boosts school funding, state employee pay raises, transportation

Despite everything we did achieve last week, I would be remiss if I failed to mention one priority of mine that did not make it into the final budget: a state earned income tax credit. 

Earlier this year I sponsored Senate Bill 1018, which would establish an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for Arizona taxpayers. My bill would have provided significant relief to Arizona families in a time of rising costs and financial uncertainty, with a family of three receiving over $300 in relief a year.

Ultimately, my bill did not pass in the House of Representatives, nor did it make its way into the budget. As part of a part of our negotiations, where compromise is needed from all sides, we arrived at a package without an EITC. My colleagues and I all negotiated in good faith, producing a budget that will do a lot of good for our state in other ways.

But more can be done to support families in our state as costs continue to rise. As my legislative career is now wrapping up, I implore my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who will be coming back to the legislature next year to take up the discussion around a state EITC. 

An EITC has the power to be transformational for Arizona families. We saw during the pandemic, and now again with inflation, how stressed our families have become. Policies like EITC and child tax credits are some of the most efficient methods we have to help families weather turbulent economic times.

Gas prices in the Phoenix area are well over $5 per gallon and back-to-school supplies are more expensive than ever. The price of groceries, too, is rising fast. An EITC would help Arizona families immediately by putting money back in their pockets. Make no mistake, an EITC is a tax cut — and a very effective one, at that, for supporting families.

I am truly proud of what we accomplished this year with our budget. And I am still very proud of the work I’ve done going back to 2017. I promised my constituents that I would always look for ways to improve our communities and that I would work with anyone who was willing. I believe I can honestly say I’ve fulfilled that promise. 

But a legislator’s work is never done. I sincerely hope to see the common sense policy of an EITC  taken up again next year. 

Last month, the legislature showed Arizonans what we can accomplish by working together. My hope is that this bipartisan spirit will continue next year and beyond. 

And my ask of my soon-to-be-former colleagues is to pass an effective tool to directly support Arizona families: Pass an EITC.

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Sen. Sean Bowie, D-Phoenix
Sen. Sean Bowie, D-Phoenix

Sen. Sean Bowie is a Democrat from Phoenix who represents District 18, which includes Ahwatukee, west Chandler, southwest Mesa, and south Tempe. He was first elected to the state Senate in 2016.

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