ATRA Announces NO on Proposition 480 Campaign
Monday, September 15, 2014

PHOENIX, AZ- The Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA) today announced it will spearhead efforts to defeat Proposition 480 on the November 4th general election ballot.

The NO on Prop 480 Committee will be chaired by ATRA President Kevin McCarthy. ATRA Board of Directors Chairman Michael DiMaria will serve as Treasurer.

Proposition 480 asks Maricopa County voters to approve a $935 million ($1.4 billion in principal and interest) General Obligation bond request over 27 years for Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS), the only county hospital still operating in Arizona. If approved, Proposition 480 would be the 3rd largest tax increase in Arizona history. MIHS has said it is their intention to actually reduce the number of patient beds from its current 515 to 250 if Proposition 480 passes.

According to McCarthy, Proposition 480 is an all-or-nothing proposal that amounts to a blank check from taxpayers. He said there are three reasons for Maricopa County voters to turn down Prop. 480: taxes, timing and process.

"The massive collapse of the residential real estate market shifted tax burdens in an unprecedented way," McCarthy said. "$1.4 billion is too heavy a burden to be minimized until we fully recover from the recession. Many in Arizona claim to need substantial investment in other priorities, notably education and infrastructure."

"Secondly, just last year Arizona policy makers made the difficult and expensive decision to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act," McCarthy continued. "The program has exploded and has nearly 1.6 million people enrolled, 25 % of Arizona's population. At a minimum, government should stop pulling levers on the health care industry until the dust settles on the massive changes recently implemented."

"And finally, a proposal of this size requires the support of taxpayers footing the bill and the private health care providers that MIHS should be cooperating with," McCarthy stated. "This historic request comes from an entity that we believe should be looking aggressively at every opportunity to downsize its operation and take advantage of the already expanding role of government funded health care in Arizona."

The CEO's of the four largest private hospital systems in the Valley recently questioned the need for approval of this tax to the editorial board of the Arizona Republic, stating their belief that there is currently plenty of capacity for hospital patient services.

"It is not prudent to charge every Maricopa County property owner a significant tax increase to duplicate existing services," McCarthy concluded.

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