Government Spending

No government has ever spent its way to prosperity. Our proposals help governments be fiscally responsible so citizens can be prosperous.

<p>No government has ever spent its way to prosperity. Our proposals help governments be fiscally responsible so citizens can be prosperous.</p>

When you're lost, a good road map sure can come in handy. As Arizona enters its third year of fiscal shortfalls, we might do well to look to other states to see how they are dealing with their fiscal crises.

As Yogi Berra might say, it's deja-vu all over again. Fourteen years ago, Arizona was in a budget crisis. Revenues were insufficient to fund the appropriations in the state budget. Conventional wisdom held that there must have been something wrong with the tax system. The Democratic governor appointed a blue-ribbon commission to recommend appropriate solutions to the "structural deficit."

In the United States, personal retirement accounts as part of Social Security are generally regarded, and often attacked, as a radical, untested concept.

Last Saturday, the Goldwater Institute gave its Goldwater Award for advancing the cause of liberty to Jose Pinera, a living refutation of that perception.

When Pinera was Chile's minister of labor in 1980, he successfully introduced personal retirement accounts to that country's version of Social Security.

El capitán del barco ha avizorado el iceberg y ha hecho sonar la alarma. Otra nave espera de cerca, lista para escoltar a los pasajeros a la seguridad. La única interrogante es si la tripulación le permitirá a los pasajeros abandonar la nave a tiempo antes de que ésta se hunda.

Phoenix-The Arizona House version of the Budget Stabilization Act (HCR 2011) was defeated yesterday by a vote of 34 to 26. A total of 14 House Republicans voted against it, along with 20 Democrats. The bill, which was modeled on Colorado's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, would have submitted to voters a referendum limiting general fund budget growth to the rate of population growth plus inflation.

Last Friday, the Goldwater Institute held a forum called the Road to Recovery, focused on Arizona's tax and budget policies. As they like to say in Scottsdale, everyone who is anyone was there.

Fortunately, those in attendance were the best thinkers and policymakers I could have dreamed of. I was stunned by the quality and quantity of ideas pouring forth from the panels.

Goldwater President Darcy Olsen opened the pow-wow with a joke. If you want to get somewhere, like Arizona wants to get to prosperity, you use a roadmap. If you're female, that is.

Arizona's budget mess may be headed for a titanic ballot battle in 2004.

Gov. Janet Napolitano is pretty clearly maneuvering for a sizable tax increase, although she is loath to admit it.

Her indictment of fiscal policy in the 1990s leaves no other logical conclusion than that she believes state government is substantially underfunded. More importantly, her budget proposes a level of expenditures that could only be sustained through a large tax increase.

President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read, "The buck stops here." Governor Janet Naplitano's desk sports a coffee mug with Harry Truman's face, but she apparently pays no heed to his famous motto. Instead, her guiding philosophy seems to be: "The buck stops anywhere but here."

Georganna Meyer remembers the first scary signs.

"It was the spring of 2001. We started to see (income tax) withholding receipts decline, then decline again and again," said Meyer, chief economist at the Department of Revenue.

"That never happens in Arizona."

Never, that is, until the Great Budget Bust of 2001, which shut down Arizona's Booming '90s, tossed thousands out of jobs and spawned deep state budget deficits that continue to cripple government.

Gov.-elect Janet Napolitano has proposed a commission to undertake a "comprehensive performance review" to solve Arizona's continuing budget crisis. The review committee would be composed of economic experts and business leaders and tasked with finding $300 million in savings. Despite the old saw that good reforms tend to die in committee, there is reason to believe that a committee is a good idea.

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