How does a governor get to the head of the class? Ask neighboring Gov. Bill Owens of Colorado. Since 1999, Gov. Owens (a past Goldwater Institute speaker) has practiced fiscal responsibility: actively holding the line on spending and even cutting income, capital gains and business property taxes. This is the equivalent of going home to study every night after class it's not fun, and you forego a lot of playtime with your friends, but in the end it pays off. In Gov. Owens' case, it has earned him an 'A' in the Cato Institute's Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors: 2004 (an honor he also earned in 2002). His high marks, determined by a mixture of 15 policy variables reflecting spending, revenue and tax rates, are no doubt largely due to Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights, a sort of automatic fiscal disciplinary measure which mandates that spending cannot grow faster than inflation plus population, and automatically refunds all surplus revenue back to taxpayers. Passed by voters 1992, think of this constitutional institution as saying to the state government, "Don't spend more than you need, or else you're grounded!"
Our own Governor Janet Napolitano, however, apparently could stand to take some notes; she scored a 'D' in the report. In her two years, Gov. Napolitano has overseen a nearly 24 percent increase in spending, and has failed to institute any kind of tax reform. However as a "freshman" (this is how the newest class of governors are classified in the report, as opposed to their "senior" counterparts), she still has time to turn her record around. But she's not in it alone. While Arizona has always been a beneficiary of California's remedial fiscal performance, she should keep in mind that another freshman governor, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has apparently been hitting the books he also earned an 'A'.
One would think that a state that increased its budget last year by 14 percent and has a budget deficit of nearly a half billion dollars would think twice before lecturing others on belt-tightening.
Yet, that's exactly what the Arizona Nutrition and Physical Activity State Plan does. Few would argue with the idea that people ought to eat healthy foods and get plenty of rest and exercise. However, obesity has only recently been identified by government officials as a "public health" issue, requiring government intervention.
As David Boaz, executive vice president of the Washington, D.C. Cato Institute argues, "the meaning of 'public health' has sprawled out lazily over the decades. Once, it referred to the project of securing health benefits that were public: clean water, improved sanitation, and the control of epidemics through treatment, quarantine, and immunization."
And, as Cato's Radley Balko writes, "Instead of manipulating or intervening in the array of food options available to American consumers, our government ought to be working to foster a sense of responsibility in and ownership of our own health and well-being."
It's a wonder that government, particularly a government as voracious in its appetite for new spending as Arizona's, would instruct people on how to keep their weight in check.
Between 1998 and 2002, there were over 10,000 cases of actual or threatened government takings of private property for purposes of transferring property to other private owners. However, the practice of using local governments as real estate brokers for private developers may be coming to an end.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument this week on the case Kelo v. City of New London, Connecticut. The case marks the first time in nearly 50 years that the Supreme Court has considered the meaning of the Public Use Clause of the 5th Amendment. The court's decision will make history and affect property owners around the nation.
Accordingly, government officials in Tempe, Phoenix and other Arizona municipalities should consider alternatives to economic redevelopment that don't involve resorting to condemnation. Examples of successful redevelopment projects and alternatives to eminent domain are provided in my policy report, Condemning Condemnation: Alternatives to Eminent Domain.
"Any program that offers a big improvement in the probability of urban students graduating is something we should be very interested in," concluded Manhattan Institute senior fellow Jay P. Greene.
And, based on Greene's latest findings, Arizonans should be all ears. Over 25 percent of Arizona high school students fail to graduate. Among those who do graduate, only a third are college-ready.
There are proven solutions. Greene's research has shown that thanks to the country's first and largest voucher program, low-income, inner-city Milwaukee children are graduating from private high schools at rates significantly higher than their peers who attend the city's typical and even most selective public high schools, 64 percent compared to 36 percent and 41 percent, respectively.
Greene's results add to a growing body of evidence that an open education marketplace helps all children succeed. The NCES finds that students from the lowest socio-economic quartiles who attend private school are three times more likely to attain a bachelor's degree than their public school peers. Those are probabilities too big to ignore.
Recent Facebook Activity
Fifteen Bureaucrats Are Better Than One
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have announced that they will not recommend candidates to serve on the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the federal health care law’s panel of 15 bureaucrats tasked with reducing Medicare costs. In a letter to the president explaining their decision, Boehner and McConnell said they “believe Congress should repeal IPAB” and “hope establishing this board never becomes a reality.”Read More >>
Policymakers Need to be Adults when it Comes to Corporate Handouts
Economic development consultants act like children when they talk about attracting new businesses. Maybe a “deal closing” fund can help the state attract high-profile corporate relocations, they argue. Or maybe a special job training grant. Just do it this one time and it will make our state an economic powerhouse. Pretty please!Read More >>
Charter Schools Should have Better Access to Empty Public School Buildings
The wave of school building closures comes at a time when charter schools are disproportionally represented in the list of the top performing schools in the state. As TUSD shutters schools, shouldn’t the district find a way for successful charter schools to move in and give families better options?Read More >>