No government has ever spent its way to prosperity. Our proposals help governments be fiscally responsible so citizens can be prosperous.
During law school, I mostly fell asleep during trusts, wills, and estates. But one lesson pierced the slumber: when you have a trustee relationship with someone, you'd better take it seriously.
Unfortunately, Governor Janet Napolitano and the lawyer members of the state legislature seem to have missed that class altogether. For in their zeal to close the state's soaring budget deficit without serious spending cuts, they "swept"-actually, the better term is "swiped"-funds held by the state in trust for Arizona farmers.
Just like someone who has stiffed her friends on an expensive dinner tab, former Gov. Janet Napolitano must be chuckling as Arizona recedes into her rear-view mirror. For the howls of protest about the state's budget mess are being directed not toward the politicians of years past who are responsible for it, but to the current legislators who are faced with the grim task of making cuts.
The Tucson Citizen recently reported that the impending budget deficit for the next fiscal year could exceed $1 billion. Much of that deficit will arise from hundreds of millions of dollars in budgeting gimmicks used to balance the books this year, such as the "rollover" of debt-an accounting maneuver that involves delaying payment of obligations incurred in one fiscal year into the next fiscal year. But the state did not just stumble into the current crisis.
Al Gore made a big deal of the United Nations hockey stick graph of the earths temperature record in his movie An Inconvenient Truth. The hockey stick represented the apparent sudden upsurge in the earths temperature in recent decades. Riddled with errors, that graph has since been thoroughly debunked. But heres a real hockey stick graph that should make everybody nervous.
With election fever behind us, the cold light of reality has dawned and the state's fiscal outlook is being realistically assessed. Governor Napolitano has acknowledged that this year's budget shortfall is at least $1.2 billion.
With less than a month before the 2010 fiscal year begins, Governor Brewer has announced a specific budget plan that proposes cuts in spending of less than $1 billion. The Governor's cuts for 2010 are smaller than those already made in 2009, despite the state's staggering deficit of nearly $3.5 billion.
Senate President Bob Burns wisely has chosen to make solving the state's budget deficit job one for the Arizona Legislature. And yet after four months, they still haven't reached an agreement. What's the holdup?
There's a lot of talk about Governor Janet Napolitano leaving Arizona for Washington, D.C. But before she leaves, she should clean up the mess she has made of our state budget.
Since taking office in 2003, Napolitano has prodded the legislature to grow state budgets at an average rate of 12 percent annually, much faster than the growth rate of the state's private economy, which grows at 7 or 8 percent annually during economic boom times.
James Madison, writing in the Federalist Papers, explained the importance of states rights by noting that the powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. These days, the pendulum of federalism has swung out of balance, favoring federal encroachment over state sovereignty.
Several states are facing some tough fiscal times. California's overspending problem amounts to more than $14 billion for the 2009 fiscal year. New Jerseys spending versus revenue gap could be $3.5 billion. Virginia and Massachusetts each face $1.2 billion gaps. Arizona's gap for 2009 is estimated at $1.7 billion.