Arizona bureaucrats spin spooky budget tales

by Byron Schlomach, Ph.D.
Goldwater Institute
Timed perfectly for Halloween, Governor Brewer asked state agencies for proposals to reduce spending 15 percent in order to close the state’s $2 billion budget deficit. The results have been predictably spooky scenarios painted by each agency.

In a recent editorial on the agencies’ proposals, the Republic notes “The Department of Corrections proposes changing state law so felons can be released earlier.” Headlines like these imply that hoards of murderers would wander our neighborhoods, but it is nothing more than a scare tactic to suggest the state would release violent criminals because of budget reductions.

While the editorial does acknowledge that agencies are employing the “Washington Monument” strategy (the practice of causing the most pain possible to undermine support for budget reductions), it fails to admonish them for refusing to play hardball with the feds. For example, while other states are challenging “maintenance of effort” requirements, the Department of Economic Security is pretending like there is no budget reduction choice besides eliminating KidsCare altogether, a program whose spending pales in comparison to AHCCCS.

The results of Governor Brewer’s faux budget-cutting exercise were predictable. Agencies are painting the darkest possible picture. Our professional politicians, the bureaucrats, are running rings around the amateur elected ones. 

Cures can be painful and a little scary, and curbing the state’s spending habit is certainly no exception. The budget reductions needed to bring spending in balance with revenues might sound ghoulish, but they are necessary and achievable. A 15 percent across-the-board budget reduction would put state spending slightly above 2006 levels. That’s hardly a catastrophe in a time like this.
Byron Schlomach, Ph.D., is the director of the Goldwater Institute’s Center for Economic Prosperity.


  1. I don’t understand how you cut the budget and not expect there to be scary ramifications. People say cut 15% or more and then are shocked when those cuts come out. I really don’t get talking out of both sides here.

  2. Just to Clarify says

    As an FYI — KidsCare is an AHCCCS program. The post notes, “…the Department of Economic Security is pretending like there is no budget reduction choice besides eliminating KidsCare altogether, a program whose spending pales in comparison to AHCCCS.”

  3. Duh dumb dumb. says

    So, every time I read another advertising missive from the Goldwater Institute that is a flat out lie, I should lie back and think of the Washington Monument.

    Go back whence ye came from, Texas Carpetbagger.

    After all, if real folks are hurt by these budget cuts, I am sure you will find blame with the dems, the office workers, the voters, the chamber, anybody but you for stupid policy suggestions.

  4. Antifederalist says

    For anyone to believe that Brewer didn’t order her agencies to paint bleak pictures would be foolish. This just goes to show that Brewer is still stuck on stupid: her tax increase…DESPITE her sad attempt at a make-over by playing musical chairs in the governor’s office. She’s doing nothing more than trying to garner support for her plan to make Arizona citizens pay more to support the same level of bloated government that we currently have. If she had learned the lesson that Republicans should have learned in 2006 and 2008, she would have appointed agency heads that would be primarily interested in cutting spending and rolling back government operations and she’d give up that dumb, Coughlin-inspired, tax increase proposal.

    The whining over belt tightening just goes to show that Brewer has appointed and surrounded herself with the same-old-same-old big-government tools that will do their dead level best to protect their own agencies rather than appointing small-government conservatives that will WISELY trim back government operations.

    JAN SIMPLY MUST GO!!! Jan, you CAN’T win the Primary and you CAN’T win against Goddard. BOW OUT NOW! If you don’t, it just goes to show your arrogance, foolishness and narcissism.

  5. If a 15 percent cut will result in such massive changes, then what are these agencies doing with the other 85 percent of the budget?

  6. Duh dumb dumb. says

    First off, the drop is a 15% drop of the entire annual budget, including one off payments like ENSCO- so the agency will have to cut the remaining budget 30%- but ya know, that means that anything that has to be paid, will be paid, and the rest won’t.

    Basic budgeting 101- something that Byron the PHD from aggiestan obviously can’t do.

    But hey, keep reading the happy news from Obama land, and maybe he will bail out the Rebel republicans running our legislature.

    Nah, they will stiff Arizona until we get a tax increase, just to make the republicans eat their pledges.

  7. I do find it ironic that still the ONE thing that this governor kept in her budget was funding for her PR staff.
    proving that she isn’t a conservative, just a RINO

  8. Sissies. 15% ? That’s par for the course usual built into the regular annual budget requests.
    Gov offices ALWAYS submit budget figures that have a cushion built into them, never expecting to get 100% of what they ask for.
    With Arizona’s current financial problems, State espirit de corps would indicate a 40-50% reduction plan at least.
    The actual reduction would be say, 50% minus the puff-puff cushion of 15-20% = an actual reduction of no more than 30%, even less, given some offices’ propensities to grossly overinflate their projected needs.
    The private sector is dealing with bigger cuts in profits and budget constraints than these – and the State expects to get TAXES out of them to pay for State functions, because absolutely everything the State does is ESSENTIAL?
    La-la land.

  9. Private companies in Arizona have made 30% cuts and kept critical operations running. There is no reason the government can’t do it, IF the bureaucrats and Governor WANT to.

    It would be interesting to see what private companies would bid for the privilege of providing many of these services with the funding currently provided to these state agencies. Those bids would be an accurate measure of what could be cut. My guess is they would be at least 30% of most agency budgets.

    Brewer is obviously not interested in reducing the scope of state government. She should do the Repbulican Party a favor and not run for governor in 2010. She will lose the primary, but a nasty primary could hurt all Republicans who are running for state offices in 2010 .

  10. Maybe you Repubs who give us people like Brewer to vote for will pay more attention about who put on the ballot in the future, you think? Not holding my breath.

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