Republicans nationally and in Arizona are taking the brunt of public disgruntlement with government.
Fair enough. In many places, the GOP has been in charge and strayed from basic principles of fiscal responsibility. The reason is too many Republicans don’t really believe in fiscal responsibility. The net result is Republicans get the rap for things they didn’t hang tight on. Arizona’s budget is a classic example.
Majority Republicans had no clear budget agenda acceptable to enough of themselves to pass much of anything. Democrats were united in both houses of the legislature and voted unanimously for a budget supported by Governor Napolitano. In both houses they picked up enough stray Republicans. Two conclusions are obvious. Republicans are basically incompetent and unable to unify, and Democrats are basically irresponsible and wasted their unity on the worst budget in recent state history.
Democrats could have easily presented something better than their final product. Fifty-one million dollars for increased advertising for the lottery with wished-for increases from that assigned to paying off the billion-plus in bonds that will be issued for infrastructure at the three universities ignores that lottery receipts are down everywhere. Just hustle the poor some more. Time for a cartoon of the Guv as a croupier. Fitz or Benson could do it only it doesn’t fit their agenda nor that of others in the mainstream media.
How about speeding tickets as a revenue source, but with no points so offenders will keep paying? Check the raids on a variety of state funds, some constitutionally assigned. Surcharges shooters pay for ammo and hikers and others pay for other items are supposedly “dedicated sources.” Like they said at Tammany Hall, another old-line Democrat institution, “what’s the Constitution between friends?”
The Napolitano / Democrat budget calls for increases in school district excess utility charges, increases in teacher salaries equaling about $300 million, and allowing government bonds to fund a theme park in Eloy. Hardly “frugality” in a tough year. Sleazy accounting tricks abound.
That budget deadlocks could have some vote for this stinking compilation of bad and worse is understandable if not forgivable. To claim it as an accomplishment, as Democrat leaders and cross-over Republicans have, indicates just how low standards of governance have sunk, and that taking care of select constituencies trumps fiscal sanity. It is hardly a testament to the management and political skills of Gov. Napolitano, and it hints as to what will happen if Democrats take control of the legislature.
One main cause of this irresponsibility, evident on both sides, is term limits. Short-term members means short-term thinking. Constant turnover means weaker leadership.
The role of the governor was key. She had time to forge a better effort, knowing that a hand full of GOP legislators would be available at the crunch — as they were. Republicans are attacked for not wanting to raise taxes for “vital” programs. Democrats are too craven to advocate the tax increases their “vital” programs would ultimately necessitate.
Mainstream media’s constant attempt to inflate the abilities of the governor have given her the necessary cover to go from advocating massive spending increases to her thug-like approach in extorting support for certain ballot measures. She could moon the Pope, and the headlines in the dailies would read “Governor strikes blow for religious expression.” Politicians are notoriously narcissistic. The constant fawning she receives will ultimately weaken her as she begins to believe it herself.
The jury-rigged accumulation of Mickey Mouse measures that makes up this state budget is her responsibility. She owed her party and more important, the people of Arizona, a better product.