Arizona state government is in the midst of a $700 million budget crisis. Cities, counties, and school districts across the state are struggling to make ends meet. The federal government is drowning in record deficits and mounting debt.
Some politicians are quick to blame declining revenues for government budgetary woes. Readers of the 2011 Arizona Piglet Book, however, will quickly see that too much spending, not too little tax revenue, is the real culprit.
The 2011 Arizona Piglet Book exposes 142 pork projects, bad ideas, and misuses of power that have wasted over $1.2 billion.
The wasteful spending includes:
$5,523,863 to subsidize private business development in Tucson’s Rio Nuevo district;
$110,000 to hire a state demographer so the state doesn’t miss out on any population-related federal handouts funded by taxpayers;
$15,000 to install a public audio system on the streets of downtown Safford;
$10,000 to subsidize an outdoor festival exploring the role of sheep in the Diné culture;
$281,924 on membership dues in two professional legislative organizations;
$200,000 to pay school bus drivers and bus aides for time they didn’t work; and
$2,351 to underwrite the production of, among other shows, “Abraham Lincoln’s Big, Gay Dance Party.”
The Goldwater Institute and Citizens Against Government Waste have joined to expose these and many more examples of tax-dollar misuse in the 2011 Arizona Piglet Book. The publication is the Grand Canyon State’s only comprehensive examination of the waste of taxpayer dollars committed by politicians and bureaucrats at all levels of government in Arizona.
Editor’s note: This report has been updated to reflect additional details about some projects discussed in the 2011 Piglet Book. Three programs previously included as part of the Arizona Centennial Legacy Project have been removed because their listed funding does not identify any state, regional, or local tax sources. Also, the listed funding for "Arizona Profiles" was reduced from $100,000 to $50,000 and the listed funding for Extraordinary Youth in Arizona was reduced from $20,200 to $16,200, to reflect portions of the budgets for these projects that could come from state, regional, or local tax sources.
A listing of $3.72 million in expenses for various project funds for Maricopa County has been removed. The listed figures represented shortfalls in grant revenues, but the County did not exceed the authorized spending budgets for any of the project funds.
An expense by the Arizona Secretary of State's office for a business meal has been removed because the source of funding was a federal grant, not state, regional, or local tax revenue. However, this does not mean the Goldwater Institute or Citizens Against Government Waste find this type of spending to be acceptable.
The total number of projects in the Piglet Book has been revised from 147 to 142 to reflect these changes.
Finally, in the section "Drowning in Tax Dollars," a description of $1.1 million for the annual operation of Yuma's aquatics program was clarified to explain the spending includes four city-owned pools.