Monday, February 2, 2009

Fiscal responsibility in Arizona? How in Hell did that happen?

I'm not talking about the federal government, of course. Restrained spending at the federal level is a pipe dream -- something to be imagined only after a night out with Michael Phelps. But Arizona ... Janet Napolitano is barely out the door and suddenly our state government is trying to live within its means.
With the $1.6 billion budget deficit now erased, the governor and legislative leaders are warning that more cuts may be needed.

"Additional fixes are very likely to be required for the fiscal year 2009 budget, and even more difficult decisions remain as we confront the realities of a $3.4 billion deficit for fiscal year 2010," Gov. Jan Brewer said in a statement issued minutes after the Legislature finalized budget cuts early Saturday.

Brewer made the action official when she signed the six-bill package later that morning. They were the first bills she's signed in her 10-day tenure, and they contained some of the biggest cuts the state has seen: nearly $300 million to education, more than $90 million in various welfare and social-service programs, and $22 million in prisons.
The usual suspects are bleating about the budget cuts, particularly the reduced funds to the state indoctrination camps ... err ... government-run schools. OK, plenty of people have favorite programs -- things they'd really like to spend money on. But here's a question: With revenues plummeting, after years of unrealistic hikes in state spending, where do you plan to get the cash? Even if you don't believe in small government, "big three" (individual income tax, corporate income tax and transaction privilege, severance and use tax) net tax collections were $454,684,879 in November 2008 (PDF), down from $541,856,026 in November 2007 (PDF), which was down from $574,128,464 in November 2006 (PDF).

Meanwhile, budgets have been out of control, with red ink threatening to drown the state.

It doesn't matter how important you think any given program is if the money to pay for it doesn't fucking exist. You are either going to make deep cuts, or we're going to take sharp objects away from you and send you off with the finger paints.

And the fact is, the cuts haven't yet gone deep enough.

After a multi-year spending spree, relearning self-control is hard. Hard or not, we have to do it, because we have no choice.



Blogger Johnny said...

"...and suddenly our state government is trying to live within its means."

Tooch, have you been taking turns at Phelp's bong? That must be some good shit. Or, is this a bona fide Harbinger of the Apocalypse?

Government and fiscal responsibility has not ever happened anywhere and does not ever happen anywhere, as a matter of robustly repeatable observation.

Get a grip of yourself!

February 3, 2009 12:18 PM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...


I didn't say they want to leave within their means, But, unlike the feds, Arizona can't print money. So, only about five years late, they're cutting spending a bit.

I'm sure it'll all be back to usual in a year or two. But it's nice while it's happening.

February 3, 2009 12:28 PM  
Blogger Johnny said...

So you're saying it's a Harbinger of the Apocalypse. I'd advise you to buy guns but, according to all the gunboards I frequent, the gunstores in the USA are pretty much cleaned out of anything useful and hopelessly backordered.

February 3, 2009 12:42 PM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...

Let's just say that getting your investments out of dollars, if you have any, would probably be a good idea.

February 3, 2009 1:26 PM  

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