I was struck by the glaring differences between the candidates as they answered questions at the Basis School debate. Cheryl Cage answered in sound bites and generalities. Al Melvin answered with sources and facts.
Ms. Cage repeatedly talked of closing $10 billion in tax credits and loopholes. After the debate, I asked Ms. Cage for a list of these tax credits and loopholes. After all, since she knew the amount she should have a tabulated list. Apparently not: Ms.Cage refused my request.
On the topic of “all day kindergarten,” Ms. Cage lamented that all day kindergarten was not compulsory and that children were suffering, a typical progressive-socialist lament. She failed to state that there is credible research on both sides of the topic. It seemed as if she wanted her own opinion and her own facts. Sorry, Ms. Cage, you can have your opinion but you cannot have your own set of facts.
In addition, Ms. Cage resorted to meaningless statistics in her answers. For example, she lamented that Arizona was last in per pupil funding at $9,200. This statistic is meaningless without framing it with qualitative data. At $9,200 per pupil, Arizona graduates 70% of its students on time.
America’s Promise Alliance, in its study “Cities in Crises: Closing the Graduation Rate,” found that in the country’s 50 largest cities, which all fund students at higher levels than Arizona, the graduation rates are 53%. Arizona’s graduation rate of 70% is at the national average. The obvious conclusion is Arizona is more effective and efficient in graduating students on time. We can do better but it is not the doom and gloom picture painted by Ms. Cage.
Ms. Cage, in attempting to explain away the doubling of the State General Fund budget from $5.5 billion to $11 billion under Governor Napolitano (2002-2008), flippantly responded that the reason the budget exploded was Arizona experienced 40% growth in its population. Not true. The United States Census Bureau shows that between 2000 and 2009, Arizona’s population grew by 28.6%, or 11.4% percent less than Ms. Cage’s 40% even adding three additional years. My analysis shows growth between 2002 and 2008 to be just under 19%. Once again, Ms. Cage is devoid of any facts.
Regarding solar energy, Ms. Cage has stated that, “Studies have shown for every $1 million dollars invested in solar will provide 13.5 jobs to the nuclear industries 4.5 jobs.” I am a proponent of solar. I have solar on my house. What I am not a proponent of is mass solar installations that misuse the environment. Spain attempted to “go green” several years ago with dismal results.
“For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid . . .The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power—which are charged to consumers in their bill – translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish ‘green job’ created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report . . . The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices . . .” I asked Ms. Cage on more than one occasion how she rationalized net job losses? She has yet to provide an answer.
I firmly believe Ms. Cage is a nice lady but she cannot run on soap opera dramatics. Proposed policies must be based on facts not feelings. This is Ms. Cage’s weakness: she prefers her opinion over objective facts. I think this will be the cause of her loss to Senator Al Melvin.