Archives for June 13, 2012

An Abbott and Costello Routine: Who’s on …49th?

By Jonathan Butcher

This is how I imagine legendary comedians Abbott and Costello would discuss public education:

     Costello: I want to help public schools. Which state is last in education funding?

     Abbott: That’s Utah, but Idaho falls close behind.

      Costello: Wait, so Idaho’s behind? That makes them last.

      Abbott: No, Idaho’s almost last. But Oklahoma says they’re second-to-last, too. And Florida and Arizona.

     Costello: So who’s behind who?

      Abbott: They’re all behind.

      Costello: You’re not telling me who’s last but who’s not last?

      Abbott: There’s no competition for last, but five are almost last, 49th.

      Costello: Idaho, Oklahoma, Florida, Arizona…that’s four.

      Abbott: North Carolina makes five.

      Costello: But I thought there were four.

      Abbott: Now there are five. But there used to be 8.

      Costello: Eight states are last?

      Abbott: No, 8 states are next-to-last: 49th.

      Costello: But now there are 4?

      Abbott: Five.

      Costello: So who’s last?

      Abbott: No, Who’s on first…

Various states and media outlets have been essentially parroting Abbott and Costello’s famous “Who’s on First” routine this way for years. Since 2007, local media in five states have named their state “49th” in education funding. In 2005, eight states were crowned 49th. While we all argue over who is second-to-last in funding, we ignore the larger problem: Despite decades of increasing education funding, student achievement is no higher today than it was 40 years ago. In Arizona, real per-student funding more than doubled between 1969-70 and 2008-09, but test scores are flat.

Competition to be named next-to-last in education funding distracts from real education reform. Voters should reject the education union’s initiative to raise Arizona’s sales tax and instead demand reforms that give all parents the power to choose the best educational experience for their child. That will help put Arizona on first.

Jonathan Butcher is Education Director for the Goldwater Institute.

Learn more:

Abbott and Costello: “Who’s on first?” from The Naughty Nineties

The Idaho Statesman: “Idaho 49th in Education Spending

Tulsa World: “In Oklahoma, support for children lacking; study says state ranks 49th

Orlando Sentinel: “Florida cheap on education spending”

The Avery Journal: “N.C. per-pupil spending drops to 49th in U.S.

East Valley Tribune: “Census report: Arizona ranks 49th in per-pupil education spending

Arizona Republic: “Rankings cloud real school indicators

Jeff Flake’s Record of Conservative Reform Highlighted in First Campaign Television Ad

Jeff Flake

“Arizona’s battle-tested conservative is Jeff Flake” 

PHOENIX – Since being elected to the House of Representatives, Jeff Flake has proved to be a different kind of leader, as highlighted in a new campaign television ad. The ad will run statewide on broadcast, cable and radio beginning Wednesday.

“I’m proud of my conservative record and pleased to have an opportunity to share that message with Arizona voters,” said Flake. 

Jeff Flake has led the fight for less government spending and regulation, lower taxes, and economic freedom for all. He’s earned the respect of many for standing up to both parties in his battle to end earmarks. While some in the Senate race claim they would do the same if elected, Jeff Flake has actually done it.  That is why he’s endorsed by fellow conservative reformers such as Governor Bobby Jindal (LA), U.S. Senators Jim DeMint (SC), Pat Toomey (PA), Mike Lee (UT), and Congressman Paul Ryan (WI).

Click on the image or this link to view the ad:


A transcript of the ad is below.

VOICE OVER: Many call him the most conservative Congressman in Washington.

VO: Arizona’s Jeff Flake.

VO: Endorsed by all leading conservative organizations.

( &

VO: Jeff Flake got rid of earmarks.


VO: Many tried, he succeeded

VO: Named a Taxpayer Superhero.


VO: Fella running against Jeff tries to say otherwise, but we all know better.

VO: Arizona’s battle tested conservative is Jeff Flake.

JEFF FLAKE: I’m Jeff Flake and I approved this message.

Here is a link to the 60-second radio version: 

Jeff Flake is endorsed by over 100 city and county leaders throughout Arizona, including Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. Flake’s campaign for the U.S. Senate is also supported by leading conservative organizations, including the National Taxpayers Union, Arizona Right to Life, FreedomWorks for America, Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife, Club for Growth, and Senate Conservatives Fund. Additionally, Flake has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association and top ratings from the National Right to Life Committee and Citizens Against Government Waste.

For more information on Jeff Flake and why he’s running for the U.S. Senate, please visit his website at


Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton featured in Best of Capitol Video

This is hilarious! Well done Arizona Capitol Times and Mayors Smith and Stanton!

When It Comes to Tax Cuts, Size Doesn’t Always Matter

By Stephen Slivinski

Some are lamenting Arizona’s recent tax cuts and others are cheering. Both sides, however, are missing a larger point. Much of the discussion has focused on a big number: $2.5 billion. That’s the estimated size of these tax cuts over the next eight years.

Fixation on the overall size of the tax cut is not the whole story. The form of the tax cut matters, too, and perhaps more so. No matter what side you’re on, the truth is, a good portion of these tax cuts aren’t likely to produce new economic growth.

Imagine that a tax cut consisted entirely of tax credits to people who have red hair. That would create all kinds of adverse incentives. Hair dye is pretty cheap, and if the price were right, we all might become redheads to get the tax benefit. (Your tax auditor may not know the difference even if your stylist does.)

It’s not likely that such a tax credit would actually do much more than move resources around – paying for hair dye instead of a dinner at a restaurant, for instance. It won’t really create new economic activity.

As it stands now, at least 16 percent of the revenue estimate of the tax cuts signed into law fit into the category of the state trying to favor certain types of activity over others. For example, one specific tax credit to businesses that make a certain level of investment and create a certain number of jobs was expanded in this year’s tax legislation. As Robert Robb explained in the Arizona Republic recently, this is not likely to create new jobs; instead, it will likely subsidize job creation today that would have materialized sometime in the future anyway. We’ve seen this sort of thing before. A federal per job tax credit was enacted in 1977 and economists estimate that at least two-thirds of the supposedly “new” jobs that emerged would have appeared anyway.

If the goal of a tax cut is to spur new and long-term economic growth, tax cuts that lower rates for all businesses and individuals at the same time are better than those that require a business to take specific actions dictated by government.

Stephen Slivinski is a Senior Economist with the Goldwater Institute.

Learn more:

Goldwater Institute: Don’t Repeat Jimmy Carter’s Failed Policies in Special Session Jobs Bill

Arizona Republic: “Refundable Tax Credit Way Over the Top

Arizona Capitol Times: “GOP Touts $2.5 Billion in Tax Cuts, but Critics Say Arizona Can’t Afford Them