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Arizona Candidate For Governor Ken Bennett Cites Need For Broader Tax Base

Ken Bennett
Nick Blumberg/KJZZ
Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett.

Former Secretary of State Ken Bennett has announced he is challenging Gov. Doug Ducey to be the Republican nominee in the governor’s race.

Bennett said teacher pay and other revenue needs could be solved by broadening the state sales tax, requiring a tax on goods and services that are now exempt. He says a broader tax base would also help to weather downturns in the economy.

“We had about a ten percent recession," Bennett said. "GDP went down about 10 percent. Total personal income went down about 10 percent. But the revenue coming into the state’s general fund went from $9.5 billion to $6.2 billion over about a three year period."

The most recent report from the Arizona Department of Revenue said transactions that are now exempt from the state sales tax would generate more than $12 billion — or more than twice as much as the state now collects from the levy.

Bennett came in fourth in the GOP primary race four years ago. The former Secretary of State and congressional candidate is making another attempt as a gubernatorial candidate, saying Gov. Ducey is vulnerable.

“Our sales tax is way too dependent on taxes on new home construction and high dollar ticket items like new car sales," Bennett said. "And when a recession hits and those dry up, we go from $9.5 billion in revenue to $6."

Bennett said more tax dollars would be available for state programs if specific transactions were not exempt from state sales tax. Ducey has not yet commented on Bennett’s announcement.

Heather van Blokland was a host at KJZZ from 2016 to 2021.