Our Republican state legislators are not-so-skilled illusionists. That's the only way to describe this year's circus that we call the legislative session.
First we have the Republicans and the Guv crowing about a balanced budget that didn't use gimmicks.
Without the stimulus money from President Obama, the state would have millions less in the budget. That stimulus, of course, was one opposed by most of the Republican illusionists now taking credit for a balanced budget.
The same illusionists who opposed the one-cent sales tax increase. You know, the one that has created a budget surplus? The one that, if the illusionists had had their way, wouldn't exist but instead would have those illusionists debating what cuts needed to be made.
And how else to explain their twin "safety" bills? You know, the ones allowing guns on campus and a militia to patrol the border. The campus bill won't deter the psychotic shooter from appearing on campus, just as the militia won't stop the cartels.
Both create illusions of safety. Both do little to improve safety. But that's not important. What's important for these Republicans is to give the appearance of acting. After all, in politics, appearance all too often is the only ingredient needed for success. Sadly, enough Arizona voters are duped by that appearance and reelect our Republican illusionists.
But the greatest illusion is one the Republicans in our state legislature have borrowed from Ohio and Wisconsin - the alleged need for union reform.
So our illusionists have introduced a raft of bills designed to weaken unions in our state, including forbidding municipalities and school boards from negotiating with unions.
Solutions in search of a problem.
Because in Arizona, no one is required to negotiate with unions. No one is required to belong to unions. We are a right-to-work state, a state that doesn't mandate binding arbitration with unions. If a school board or a municipality wants to, it can enter into meet-and-confer with unions. But if it chooses to, those same entities can stop the negotiations and impose a settlement.
In other words, our illusionists in the Legislature have created the image of solving a problem for our state. But in doing so, they have betrayed another illusion they would want us to believe, the illusion of Small Government.
These Republicans are the loudest in complaining about how government often tries to dictate what we can do. And yet here with their union laws, the Republicans are doing just that: telling cities and counties and schools what they can do, taking choice away from them. Telling them that Big Government in the form of Republican legislation knows best.
Like the Great and Powerful Oz, these Republicans don't want us to look behind the curtain, because the reality we would find is an ugly one. But once we do peer back there, we find out how phony they are.
• Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.