Enter the Vikings, those marauders coming to attack your home. At the last moment, you flash your low-interest credit card and the villains stop dead in their tracks. You've likely seen the Capital One bank ads claiming that their credit cards will just as effectively stop high interest rates. The commercial ends with a defeated Viking menacingly asking, "What's in your wallet?"
But a more important question for Arizonans may be "What's not in your wallet?"
As of 2:21 p.m. tomorrow, July 16, the Arizona state government will have already spent $1 billion since the start of the fiscal year on July 1.
That's $1 billion that taxpayers won't be able to spend on things like down-payments on a home, investments in college savings accounts, or just that long-awaited retirement. Instead, the money will go toward expanding state bureaucracies, among other items. For instance, 2006 budgets at the Department of Health Services and the State Land Department are growing by almost 30 percent.
Keeping marauders out of the public treasury may take some doing, but a structural limit such as the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights holds promise. If implemented, the initiative would force policymakers to prioritize spending, reduce the power of special interests, and protect taxpayers.
Visit the Arizona Spending Watch on the Goldwater Institute website to see a running count of how much of the state's $23.4 billion budget has been spent.