Watch out taxpayers, we are about to get skinned again. The East Valley Tribune (Sunday, ‘This year, lawmakers have more money to fight over'), reports that the state anticipates having "$416 million to $650 million left over" this fiscal year. And already legislators are salivating over the spending possibilities that gleam in their eyes.
But what a glorious opportunity to pay down that extravagant debt the state has been amassing, considering debt is illegal under the Arizona Constitution anyway. Showers of adulation should go to Gov. Jan Brewer for boldly stating a fundamental principle of government when she says, "Government ought not be in debt."
Yet Yuma Sen. Don Shooter thinks her arcane idea goes against the drift of modern governing. This bogus concept assumes whatever money can be collected, mortgaged, or borrowed/stolen from other funds ought to be spent as fast as it can. No need to budget, no need to economize, no need to be honest and frugal stewards of the public purse. My goodness, we don't want to even start thinking about being responsible adults here. Shooter's position is that the debt is only costing us a mere 3 percent, so let's rejoice, borrow more, maybe, and luxuriate in the lavishness of self-indulgence, sanity be damned!
The prudent approach was voiced by Fountain Hills Rep. John Kavanaugh, who wisely proposed that we bank the excess in order to avoid the "financial cliff" that looms before the state. If Shooter and his ilk would care to check it, the only reason the state is facing a so-called surplus is that it passed a "temporary" sales tax hike, not that we've been prudent holding back on spending. However, if we had managed, when the budget crisis was in full bloom last year, to permanently streamline government, eliminate a bevy of wasteful offices, bureaus and departments, and restore government to its essential role of protecting our rights - not providing products and services - we'd be on our way to sensible fiscal recovery.
Peter J. O'Malley