Occam’s Razor: AZ Budget Needs More Than Stimulus

by Gayle Plato-Besley

If our economy seems limp to you, have no fear. This federal financial flat line is vital to the Donkey Dems in Congress. They need the Fiscal Erectile Dysfunction (F-ED), in order to pop the pill- aka Stimulus Bill ‘09—Viva Viagra!

All of the politico palms will be good and greasy soon in this latest ponzi scheme, and there is nothin’ you can really do about it. Alas in AZ, we are all wimpy in the wallet area, back here where Janet used to lie. So forget about drinking Kool-aid; get the lil blue pill for the hard times.

Where’s the romance gone? The Ol’ West lured those stuck in the Ice Age back East: property sold easily and everybody was either buying it or brokering the deal. Small businesses flourished, tax bases were strong, and we all drank $4.00 lattes. We were young and strong, playing in the sun, and living for the moment of quick bucking. We were so in love.

But the F-ED and the AZ version don’t always need Stimulus. Sometimes it just needs to be let alone. Sometimes the best thing is to slim down too. Cuz we all know, when you get too fat, it’s just harder to see whatchya got that still works.

I’ve recently written of a need to help AZ by using lottery money in a new way. There was some clever finance schmoozing once upon a time to get lots of the money shuffled into transportation. Yet, is there a parent out there who’s rather see Light Rail get a billion and us not even a port-o potty on the route? Would we rather a bus stop with artsy seats over a school reading program or public healthcare for kids? Get real and stop this shell game.

Some complained that I was jumping on with Janet and agreeing to sell the gold mine that is the lottery. No. We need to revamp and funnel the money brought in from this voluntary revenue raising. If the Arizona legislature can yank back tax credits and change up mandated expenditures, it can revamp the statutes. Get the half a billion dollars raised annually from AZ Lottery; while about half of that goes to prizes and running it, a good deal of it can be used in the ‘general fund’ manner and put forth for the ABSOLUTELY necessary programs. Maybe we could borrow from it’s future profits, but let’s not sell it!

Occam’s Razor– always best in a slash

While readers may see this concept as simplistic or naïve; I say leave up to a 14th century philosopher/thinker to say it: All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.”(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam’s_razor)

SIMPLY PUT- We cannot find a quarter of a billion dollars ( the half after runnin’ it) ANY OTHER PLACE during this economic downturn.

“The Arizona Lottery took in a record $473 million during the fiscal year that ended in June.” (Arizona Republic – 10/13/08)

Let the people decide and put forth an initiative including a three point proposal:

1) Lottery revenues are distributed through a general fund concept including a bulk of the money going to local transportation programs including mass transit. We feel this is not the best use of the revenue in a budgetary crisis. Public safety, K-12 education and healthcare are priority to all other issues. Each area will need restructuring of expenditures and define critical programs.

2) All state programs submit new budgets showing cuts of a minimum of 25% of overall expenditures immediately. Staffing costs are a bulk of expenditure. Local groups can best determine their cuts, but no funds will be available until full compliance with new guidelines. All new budget proposals will be made available to the public before submission. Projection of how services will be rendered under the new budgets will be delineated in public meetings and announcements. Total transparency will help streamline services in the long run. Recommendations to schools and public programs will be presented and include staff reduction, and a shortened work week where possible. State-wide school summer closures of one month will be mandatory. All agencies will revamp retirement and leave-based status of employees. All state agencies receiving state funds must stop all new programming not dictated by voter mandate (override or bond). All state directors or administrators will have salaries capped at 100K with no raises for any state employees. Any agency receiving lottery revenue must submit accountability checks of how monies were spent and compliance of their scaled back budgets.

3) Add more games and revamp the lottery. There’s been steady growth when there are big jackpots. Review how to increase the sales. Once again, this is a volunteer revenue generator. Let’s make it work for us.

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