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Boyer opposes plan to sidestep tax cut referendum without boost to K-12 funding

A GOP plan to avoid a voter referendum on $2 billion in income tax cuts — primarily benefiting Arizona’s wealthiest — is stuck unless one Republican’s conditions are met.

Sen. Paul Boyer (R-Glendale) supported those tax cuts in 2021. But Boyer now says he won’t vote to repeal and replace the tax cuts — which would nullify the referendum — unless the Legislature dramatically increases annual funding for K-12 schools.

“There's a way where we can get what my friends on the right and the governor want, which is the tax decrease on the individual income tax side, and making that permanent, along with more education funding to the tune of around $900 million to $1 billion,” Boyer said.

Boyer laid out his proposal for a grand bargain in an op-ed published in the Arizona Republic. Boyer wrote that his plan honors the will of Arizona voters, who narrowly passed an income tax increase for education in 2020 that was later struck down by the Arizona Supreme Court.

Many of those same voters signed the referendum last year to block the GOP-backed income tax cuts, which mainly benefit the wealthy. The average Arizonan earning between $75,000 and $100,000 will save $231 a year in state income taxes, while the average taxpayer earning between $500,000 and $1 million a year will save more than $12,000, according to the Legislature’s budget analysts.

“Unquestionably, voters did vote for more education funding,” Boyer told KJZZ News. “And I think it's a mistake to try and go around the voters.”

Boyer’s position puts the rest of his Republican colleagues in a bind. All 31 House Republicans and 16 GOP senators would have to support a plan to repeal and replace the income tax cuts — no Democrats would support the proposal.

At least two other Republican senators have expressed their own opposition to the plan, though for far different reasons than Boyer.

Boyer says he’s held up the budget before and isn’t afraid to do it again now. The Show spoke with Boyer about his compromise.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.