Super Rich, Poor Goldwater

I have to chuckle anytime I see Goldwater Institute get on their high horse about tax breaks and taxpayer-funded subsidies.

In a paywalled article on the Phoenix Business Journal (“Helping the rich get richer: Tax breaks, subsidies, other incentives benefit big businesses and powerful industries“), Mike Sunnucks leads into what I think is an interview with Goldwater’s Byron Schlomach. I didn’t pay the $90/year for access to the digital version (which is, unfathomably the same as the print edition). However, this is Mike’s lead-in:

They’ve been created for the $9 billion NFL, the $550 million Super Bowl XLIX and $665 billion Apple Inc. They’ve also been carved out for the likes of University of Phoenix, Intel Corp., Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and scores of real estate developers.

Big businesses and industries in Arizona scramble for big tax breaks, subsidies and incentives that help them lower their bills, build facilities and train workers.
The incentives range from special property tax deals for real estate developers and publicly financed stadiums for sports teams, to sales tax exemptions for Super Bowl tickets and favorable tax zones…

Curious that Goldwater has uttered nary a peep about the million dollars (give or take a hundred thou) in taxpayer money that Mayor Jim Lane and the Scottsdale city council majority gave away to the Super Bowl host committee and Fashion Square for Super Bowl-related expenses. Might it have something to do with a chummy relationship between the mayor and one of Goldwater’s founders?

Where was Goldwater when Mayor Lane championed forgiving the PGA for deferred capital maintenance obligations on the TPC course they lease from the city? And then borrowing money on the taxpayers good credit to perform those improvements? Perhaps the aforementioned founder’s son being Jim Lane’s chief of staff at the time kept Goldwater on the sidelines during a subsidy that probably cost the taxpayers over $20 million?

Over a million dollars’ worth of similar subsidies to Phil Mickelson–lessee of the city’s McDowell Mountain Golf Course–maybe didn’t have enough zeros to the left of the decimal to warrant Goldwater attention.

Still, I guess any attention by Goldwater (and PBJ) to these issues is better than none at all.

To that end, what appears to be a Goldwater op-ed (“Super Bowl host city still reeling over sports deals“) that appears on their website has some interesting comments and quotes:

To fiscal conservatives, Glendale serves as a cautionary tale for suburban cities across the United States that want to throw public money at professional sports projects.

“Overall, it’s a bad move for cities,” said Kurt Altman, general counsel for the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, which fought Glendale over its enticements to the hockey team. “As much as they say it’s going to make the city a destination, it just doesn’t”…

As he navigates the financial situation, Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers returns to a maxim he has repeated many times in his life: “I’m not living in the past. I’m just paying for it [emphasis added].”

In the case of the Super Bowl, he believes the city is paying dearly. He said Glendale will actually lose a “couple million dollars” by hosting the event. It’s spending huge amounts of money on overtime and police and public safety costs for the Super Bowl but not getting much back.

Super Bowl visitors are mostly staying in Phoenix and Scottsdale and only showing up in Glendale on game day, meaning the city won’t see much of a boost in tax revenue. And the city was hoping the state would reimburse Glendale for its police overtime costs, but lawmakers have scoffed at the idea.

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