Katie Hobbs revs-up campaign, releases economic plan

By Nick Phillips

Katie Hobbs’ economic plan consists of tax credits, tax exemptions, a tax holiday, and permanently extending a child care assistance program that’s currently funded by one-time federal grants.

In a press conference at Carpenters Local Union 1912, 4547 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix, Thursday, the Secretary of State and Democratic candidate for governor said the measures will “ensure that Arizona can be an affordable place to live, work, start a business and raise a family.” 

“We have a billion-dollar surplus right now, and we should be using some of those funds to help Arizona families who are struggling to make ends meet,” she added. The Hobbs campaign didn’t provide a price tag for all pieces of the plan, but said just two of the larger programs would come to more than half a billion dollars per year. 

Hobbs’ first major policy proposal, which came in November and focused on cutting red tape for business owners, generated comments that the plan looked like something out of a mainstream Republican platform. The “Affordable Arizona” plan unveiled on Thursday would lower tax burdens, and the child care assistance plan would be an extension of a program that Gov. Doug Ducey has already proposed on a temporary basis. 

But Hobbs said her plans aren’t about the same things that have driven economic policymaking under Ducey. “In contrast with what the Republicans have done, just ramming through tax cuts that benefit the wealthy, these will help everyday Arizonans,” she said. 

The plan includes: a child tax credit for families earning below $100,000; permanent child care assistance; a refundable tax credit for career and technical education; exempting diapers, baby products, over-the-counter medicines and feminine hygiene products from sales tax; and a sales tax holiday for school supplies. 

Two major parts of the plan are based on existing programs. 

The child tax credit is modeled on a federal program that benefited 800,000 families in Arizona, according to documents provided by the campaign. Hobbs said it would cost approximately $147 million per year. 

The child care assistance package would make permanent a program that Ducey proposed in this year’s budget, but is currently funded through federal Covid aid. Joe Wolf, a spokesman for Hobbs, said budget forecasts put the cost of the program at $400 million per year. 

Hobbs also said the tax exemption for feminine hygiene products was estimated to cost about $7 million. The campaign didn’t immediately provide estimates for the other programs. 

In an election year that’s looking gloomy for Democrats, even if Hobbs can win the governor’s office, she might not have the luxury of working with a legislature controlled by her party. 

As for how she’ll accomplish her priorities if Republicans maintain their legislative majority, Hobbs said she’s counting on working across the aisle. “The bottom line is we have to put our partisan politics aside to work on these issues that really matter to struggling and everyday Arizonans.”