Judge says Arizona can’t use COVID relief funds to pay for tax cuts

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services   

A federal judge has thrown out a bid by Attorney General Mark Brnovich to void provisions in a COVID-19 federal relief package that preclude any of the cash being used for tax cuts.

In an extensive ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Diane Humetewa said neither Brnovich nor the state has any legal right to challenge the provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act approved earlier this year by Congress. The $1.9 trillion plan, the latest in a series of measures designed to deal with the pandemic, includes $350 billion for state and local governments, with $4.7 billion of that for Arizona.

Only thing is, Congress put a significant string on that: States cannot use the money to then turn around and reduce taxes.

Brnovich challenged that as unconstitutional.

If nothing else, he argued, the conditions are so ambiguous as to leave Arizona unsure of what would cause it to forfeit any of that federal cash. And that, Brnovich said, illegally prevents the state from lowering its net tax collections in any way.

But Humetewa, in a 10-page ruling, said there’s a huge flaw in that argument.


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July 2021