Republican proposes rural tribes keep portion of state sales tax

Rep. Bob Thorpe

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times

Two lawmakers are proposing to let at least several Native American tribes keep some of the taxes generated from sales on reservations.

The proposal by Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, would siphon off 15 percent of what is collected in the state’s basic 5-cent sales tax rate, not counting the 0.6-cent levy for education. The tribes would be able to keep that for economic, public safety and infrastructure needs.

Rep. Arlando Teller, D-Chine, has a similar proposal in HB 2205. But his plan would increase the tribal share to 50 percent.

But Teller said Jan. 15 that he would support Thorpe’s measure which likely has a better chance of approval, both because of the financial impact and the fact that Republicans control both the House and Senate.

Thorpe, for his part, said he would be “thrilled” if lawmakers would approve a 50 percent hold back. But he said that 15 percent figure is likely “what we can accomplish.”

The measure, Thorpe said, is designed largely to help the Navajo and Hopi tribes which have been hit financially with the closure of the Navajo Generating Station and the Kayenta mine that provided fuel. But it is crafted in a way that all rural tribes – those outside Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties – would be eligible.


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