Arizona Legislature gets state spending under control

by Byron Schlomach, Ph.D.
Goldwater Institute
Last week the Legislature made some long overdue spending reductions after three years of gimmicks, one-time cash grabs and borrowing. Amidst the cries of Armageddon, it sometimes helps to back away and look at the big picture. 

In 2004, state General Fund spending was $7.5 billion. One year later, it stood at almost $9 billion and was more than $10 billion by 2007. With fund transfers and gimmicks taken into account, the budget proposal now on the governor’s desk is for $8.5 billion. Adding in the proposed 18 percent sales tax increase would keep spending for fiscal year 2011 well above the 2004 level.

Some will cry disaster looms with this level of spending. They will claim that roads will crumble and people will suffer. They won’t tell you that road funding isn’t even included in general fund spending, or that there are always alternatives to government when it comes to helping people who truly need it.

Already, an alternative to funding state parks through private contracting is being explored. The state Department of Insurance has proposed a method to become self-funded, a strategy the Legislature has so far rejected. There are ways to accomplish much of what state government currently does without higher taxes. So is this budget Armageddon? Hardly. This is a budget opportunity.

Dr. Byron Schlomach is an economist and the director of the Center for Economic Prosperity at the Goldwater Institute.


  1. Yes instead of gimmicks, this budget is based largely on blatantly unconstitutional reductions in AHCCCS eligibility and asking the voters to approve a sales tax and let the lege spend money the voters had already approved for other purposes.

    Nice strawman on the road argument, but it would be wonderful to hear your plan to get health care to the 350,000 kids and adults being cut.

  2. Stephen Kohut says

    The state should never have gotten into the health insurance business. There is no right to health insurance. Before the disaster called Medicaid(AHCCCS in AZ) people who needed assistance were handled as charity cases. AHCCCS is the classic boondoogle of an underfunded federal “mandate” that the state was stupid enough to bite on and end up paying out the nose for. Time to invoke the state’s 10th amendment rights, opt out and hit reset. My budget for AHCCCS would be $0. This is nothing but government mandated charity using other peoples money. This is an individual’s responsibility.

  3. Great Stephen get a proposition on the ballot to do away with it, in the meantime voters amended the state constitution to set eligibility at a certain rate and the lege is choosing to ignore that under some ludicrous legal claim.

  4. Stephen,

    Thank you for your charitable attitude. What is your address so I can send it to hospitals whose EDs are going to be overrun in the next year by all the uninsured?

  5. Stephen Kohut says

    Before the nanny state days of AHCCCS, Medicaid and Medicare people in this country actually managed to get and receive healthcare. It was their responsibility as free citizens to take care of themselves. Those who needed charity care recieved it. Charity is a freely given gift and not a government entitlement.

    My mother spent over 40 years in HC and watch it change from 1960 to the current disaster through unneeded and unconstitutional government interference. I simply suggest we unscrew the pooch and reset to 1960. The system worked fine then without nanny’s over taxing and over regulating hand.

    The state is under no legal obligation to accept Medicaid regulation. It can opt out and pass and it is in our best interest it does so. It you want to help other then donate to the charity or church of your choice. I have no interest in the goverment providing charity through forced taxation. I prefer to make that choice mayself where and how I wish.

  6. “Before the nanny state days of AHCCCS, Medicaid and Medicare people in this country actually managed to get and receive healthcare.”

    Actually they did not and that is why Medicare and Medicaid were created. Before Medicare over half of seniors had no hospital insurance and 1/4 went without care because they couldn’t afford it.

  7. Stephen Kohut says

    Your whining doesn’t pass muster Todd nor do your “facts”.

    Government has no business in healthcare insurance and no business creating forced taxpayer paid charity “entitlements”. We are entitled to what we earn. We are not entitled to force others to pay for our wants.

  8. Stephen Kohut,
    I am not ‘whining’ I merely pointed out that your claim that people got health care before Medicare and Medicaid was false.

    Look, you clearly believe the country should not have instituted Medicare and Medicaid and you would like to see them abolished regardless of how that affects people. Great, make that argument but don’t follow the Goldwater Institute and pretend that people are going to magically get medical care when you eliminate these programs.

  9. Stephen Kohut says

    Medicaid and Medicare should never have been established. There is nothing in Art 1 Sec 8 granting the federal goverment power to do so. Those programs and other government action in HC are the cause of today’s problems and not the solution. Both need to be unwound.

    There is a vast difference between having health insurance and receiving medical care. Not having insurance does not mean you will not have access to medical care.

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