Editors Note: Sometimes I wake up and find myself caught between opposing conservative views with this blog and ask myself “why?”
In response to an earlier piece, entitled, “OUTRAGE! Reason for Governor Brewer’s tax increase is to reward lobbyist/employee Chuck Coughlin“ I thought it was necessary, appropriate and equitable to allow Chuck Coughlin to respond to the charge that he or his consulting firm, HighGround, would benefit in any way from an effort to pass a tax hike here in the State of Arizona. Chuck was more than willing to respond and attempt to set the record straight.
Those who read the posts on Sonoran Alliance should know that there are several writers who frequently and infrequently post their opinions on the blog. With the exception of myself, these writers do not know the identity of each other. That means that we don’t always agree with what is written. Yes, we are not all in lock-step with one another on every issue. In essence, there is diversity amongst our writers and that means we should respect each other’s right to express our own opinions.
With that said, here is Mr. Coughlin’s response:
I’m very flattered that Mr. Shofir would consider me such an influential person. The truth of the matter, as is always the case, is a bit more complicated, particularly to people who see the world in absolutes.
For the record I do not nor have I ever worked in a government role for Governor or Secretary Brewer. I have managed all of her campaigns since she left the Legislature. I admire her greatly, her honesty, integrity and most of all her heart. She is as real a regular down to earth person as Governor Napolitano was aloof, unattached and career minded.
To be abundantly clear the proposals the Governor has articulated are hers. So let’s set the record straight:
- Governor Napolitano and her supporters at the Legislature grew government to clearly unsustainable levels (45%) over the past three years. There is no question that the Legislature and the Governor must cut over a billion dollars in state spending between this years and next year’s State budget. If that is done, Governor Brewer will have cut more State government spending than any Governor in the history of Arizona.
- The current rate of growth for State Government is not sustainable. We, yes I consider myself a conservative Republican, must be focused on developing tools to slow the overall rate of government growth. Constitutionally reforming the rainy day fund to require up to 20% of funds be put aside annually coupled with reforms to limit access to these funds could serve as a significant braking mechanism on future government spending. County and municipal governments have spending control mechanisms, it is time we placed a spending control mechanism on future state spending growth.
- Some Republican’s fascination with a temporary tax reminds me of the public fascination with the murder of Jon Benet Ramsey. They still haven’t caught the killer but we still talk about the case. Rather than focus on the temporary tax increase (death to hard core Republicans), folks should be concerned with controlling the rate of growth in government spending. That is the real killer. So in short, just don’t read the headline, focus on the real story.
- Arizona’s tax structure is obsolete and outdated. The business property taxes and corporate income taxes in Arizona are an impediment to capital formation. We should be focused on plans to bring those rates down over the long term and to begin to recruit California companies that will be fleeing a high tax state.
- Republicans now control all the branches of State Government. We must demonstrate an ability to govern. In a recent survey done by Phd. Margret Kenski (clients incl: Kyl, McCain, Hayworth, Bee, Shadegg, Symington etc…) cuts to kindergarten through 12th grade education programs were unacceptable to 75% of the electorate, including 64% of the Republican’s. Over 41% of the State Budget supports K-12 education. The Same survey found that cuts to the colleges and University Systems were unacceptable to 50% of the overall electorate, including 35% of the Republicans, and cuts to public health care programs serving the poor were unacceptable to 54% of the electorate (40% unacceptable to Republicans). These program alone account for over 60% of the state budget available to be cut, the other 40% is voter protected by Prop 105. All of these programs will have to be cut or reformed in some manner – see point number one.
- If Republicans intend to stay in the majority at the Arizona Legislature, we must not cut programs to the point where voters will no longer have confidence in our ability to lead. Until the economy recovers we must find temporary ways to bridge the gap so that Arizona can continue to offer the essential public services that its citizens rely upon.
- After cutting a billion dollars, creating a braking mechanism on future state government spending and thoughtfully applying all of the Federal stimulus dollars. If there remains a budget deficit of a $500 million or more in 2010, 11 and or 12, I believe Arizona voters would support a constitutionally limited 2-3 year, dedicated 1% increase in State Sales tax to support core government services (K-12, Higher Ed, Health Care for the poor and public safety).
For the record, my firm resigned from the Time Coalition prior to the signature gathering phase because I did not have confidence in the overall program being proposed by Governor Napolitano.
I entered the public affairs business over 25 years ago, not to make money but to pursue good ideas, support good government, and to be vigilant about the abuse of government power and authority. I have worked for then Congressman John McCain, Attorney General Grant Woods, Governor Fife Symington, State Senator’s Bob Burns, Russell Pearce and John Nelson to name a few. I consider all of them to be my dear friends today. And no, we don’t always agree.
God has been very good to me, my family and to the many people who work with me here at Highground. I trust if I keep trying to follow the path and values outlined above I will continue to be fine.
Again, thanks for the flattery, but seriously if Mr. Shofir or anyone else wants to talk I’m available. Call me anytime at the office, it’s always good to have a reasonable, thoughtful discussion. Come visit us at the Highground any time you would like. But let’s try to knock off the personal attacks, and let’s talk about ideas.
All the best, Vote Republican!