One of the most important of all governing decisions is how much of a polity's resources to absorb through government taxation and spending. This paper compares Gov. Janet Napolitanos first term to that of previous Arizona governors going back to Bruce Babbitt, the last Democrat to be elected governor in Arizona prior to Napolitano, on one subcomponent of that decision state general fund spending.
In nominal terms, state general fund spending increased during Napolitano's term by 70 percent. That is nearly twice as fast as the average of her predecessors, which was 37 percent. It is rivaled only by the increase during Babbitt's first elected term of 65 percent.
However, the last budget of Gov. Jane Hull's term (fiscal year [FY] 2003) featured some measures (not paying the last month of state aid to education and debt-financing of school construction) that had the effect of removing expenses from the state general fund budget books without actually reducing the spending itself. Also during Hulls term, voters approved a six-tenths of a percent increase in the state sales tax for education (Proposition 301). Although it was voter-approved, Hull championed the measure, which went for education programs that had customarily been the responsibility of the states general fund.
Adjusting nominal state general fund expenditures for these factors increases reported spending during Hulls term and thus reduces the reported increase during Napolitano's first term to 54 percent. This is still above the adjusted average of her predecessors of 40 percent, but not as dramatically.
Further context is provided by comparing the rate at which spending increased during the respective terms of office with such common benchmarks as growth in personal income and increases in population and inflation.
Read the full text of A Comparison of State Spending Growth Under Arizona Governors here.