State Treasurer: Mark Manoil calls for big structural changes in state government

Mark Manoil, Arizona State Treasurer Democratic Candidate. (Photo Courtesy of Mark Manoil)

Name: Mark Manoil
Political party: Democrat
Position sought: Arizona state treasurer
City of residence: Phoenix
Occupation: Property-tax lawyer

What is the greatest issue Arizona residents face? If elected, how would you address this issue?

“I’m trying to address structural problems we have in our government and trying to re-create the sense of opportunity that we should have and that we have had in the past from the very beginning of the state,” Manoil said.

“What I’m referring to there is the promise of public education and higher education as nearly free as possible, which is stated in our state Constitution, and creating tools for entrepreneurs to have easier access to finance it – not just entrepreneurs, but consumers and even cities and towns in the state that have actually kind of been shafted by the state Legislature.”

Manoil said Proposition 108, which was passed in 1992 and requires two-thirds vote in both chambers of the Legislature to increase taxes, is a major part of the problem. He argued that it hurt Arizona’s recovery from the Great Recession by making it difficult to repeal a ineffective $520 million corporate income tax cut.

“So if you’re a legislator saying, ‘Boy, maybe we shouldn’t have given up half a billion dollars of our budget based on faith in this argument because it didn’t prove out,’ now to undo that simple majority vote corporate income tax cut is going to require at least two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature plus a governor’s signature, and if you have a governor who won’t go along with restoring those taxes, then it’s a three-quarters supermajority vote in both houses,” Manoil said.

“This is what I consider the primary structural problem in our state government that people need to be talking about, need to be aware of, and need to do something about, and this is one of the principal reasons I’m running for state treasurer.”

What other issues are important to you and your campaign?

“Credit availability,” said Manoil, 60, who advocates for rebuilding wealth locally by establishing a public community banking system so borrowers aren’t abused by Wall Street.

He earned a master’s degree in business administration and a law degree from Arizona State University.

“There is an enormous opportunity for Arizona to look at creating a partnership bank at the state level that can work with community banks and credit unions to build up their credit-granting ability throughout the state,” Manoil said.

One of the budget-balancing measures the Legislature has taken is essentially redirecting revenues – shared sales tax revenues, gasoline taxes, highway funds – that in past years were distributed to cities, Manoil said. Such cities as Kingman and Douglas could use those revenues for street improvements.

“I mention those two cities particularly because I’ve heard back from city officials who said, ‘Well, with the state taking our money away from us, we’re having to do Band-Aid fixes on our roads,'” he said.

“I mean, this goes to what is the most elemental business of government – fixing potholes.”

What in your past work, political or volunteer experience makes you a better choice to hold this office?

“I have run before (for the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2004 and 2006), so I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many parts of Arizona before, but it’s also brought me closer to a lot more people in this state and local leaders who are also trying to do things to improve their communities, and I find that inspiring.”

“In terms of political work, I’ve helped a lot of other candidates along the way, because I realize it’s a communal effort to get good leadership. It doesn’t just happen automatically, and when you see people who have bright visions, it’s important to support them. I’ve gone back to people that I’ve supported and asked if they would support me and that was helpful, but just seeing the experience of other people is very informative.”

What is a personal challenge you feel you need to overcome?

“I don’t know if it’s personal as much as just recognizing that there really is a voter registration differential in our state that is pretty substantial, that creates a hurdle for Democratic candidates,” Manoil said, “but I’m hoping that with appropriate attention to this race a lot of people, regardless of their party registration, will realize that it’s in their best interest to go for a change.”

Please share a quote or advice that you live by.

“I have a few, but there was one I grew up with. I had nice a poster in my bedroom when I was a kid with a quote on it. It was a picture of Earth from the moon, one of those early ones from the 1960s, and the quote was from Thomas Carlyle.”

“So here hath been dawning

Another blue day:

Think, wilt thou let it

Slip useless away?”

“I try to make the most of our time, because you realize lives are finite,” he said.

What app on your phone could you not live without?

“Besides the basic telephone app? The messaging app and after that the Facebook app.”

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Manoil discussed an Arizona Republic debate he had with opponent Kimberly Yee on Oct. 1 where she took some personal shots at him in her closing comments.

“I was attacked for a couple of different things,” Manoil said. “One was having my own house foreclosed on in the time of the Great Recession. I was suffering like a lot of Arizonans did. It was a painful period and I don’t like to focus on it, but I learned a few things and I was able to come back from there.

“It gives me a great deal of compassion for people going through tough times and it inspires me to want to try to improve the potential for people and provide really basic services to folks who don’t have them, like basic banking services.”

He said Yee misleadingly claimed he had foreclosed on poor families.

“What I do in the property tax enforcement area professionally is enforce property taxes mostly on raw land and abandoned property, and that’s not foreclosing on poor families,” Manoil said. “It’s trying to get property back on the active tax roll and make those persons accountable so that overall we maintain high compliance with the taxes that we have so that people don’t have to pay more than they should for their fair share.”

Campaign website for Mark Manoil.

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