So Democrats What is the Alternative?

Anyone who has been following the efforts to close the budget gap will have seen the Democrats and their liberal allies pushing their attacks on Republicans for the inevitable spending cuts that are necessary to close the gap.  Of course, it wouldn’t take a political genius to foresee that these attacks would focus almost exclusively on possible cuts in education.  This is smart politics and it plays well in the press.

Strangely missing though is a credible alternative from the Democrats.  Their proposal of borrowing and budget gimmicks can and should be a non-starter.  These tricks come straight from our former Governor’s playbook and are frankly a direct contributor the situation we face today.  In essence their proposal of putting off payments until the next budget cycle in hopes of an upturn are nothing more than robbing Peter to pay Paul or in other words – a Ponzi Scheme.  And like all Ponzi schemes it will collapse.

The simple fact is that there are only two ways to fix the budget problem.

Cut spending or raise taxes.

Republicans in the Legislature and Governor Brewer correctly understand that raising taxes in a tough economy will lead to more economic pain for Arizona citizens and business.  Pain that in a declining job market is the last thing anyone needs.

So if raising taxes is a non-starter – not even Democrats with the exception of their new liberal State Chairman are proposing that – then the question becomes what to do?

The only answer is to cut spending, and as Democrats and their allies know, voter mandated spending is off the table.  That of course leaves education squarely in the crosshairs.

It’s easy when you are in the minority to take a shot at the majority who will have to make hard choices.  And politically, that is what the Democrats should and are doing.  But once you get past the politics, the question still remains.

What is the alternative?


  1. Well, to start, we could decriminalize “personal” amounts of marijuana, making it a ticketable, misdemeanor offense, thus freeing up thousands of spaces in jail, thus freeing up large amounts of cash that we spend on the prosecution and incarceration of non-violent offenders, and creating a new revenue stream.

    But it’s makes everyone feel morally superior to lock people up, and it’s much easier to cut education because it seems a lot more nebulous and besides, it’s only our children’s future we’re talking about. Pfff.

  2. Klute,

    Save it. Your “solution” is two jingling pennies in a chasm of debt, and is a straw man as well. How many people do you know who are serving hardcore time for “personal amounts of marijuana?”

    And yes, sometimes non-violent offenders NEED to go to jail. That is the point of jail to punish people who did wrong. There are a large portion, however, where house arrest, and/or probation is a good solution. Maybe you should have a talk with Pima County Prosecutor Barbara Lawall on that. I seem to remember the Republican Brad Roach running closer to your ideals.

  3. From your lips to Eckerstrom’s ears, Klute. As a Republican, I heartily encourage AZ Democrats to run on a one-issue “Legalize It” platform in 2010. The snack food stimulus alone would fill the state’s coffers in no time.

    Enough with the daily education protests… let a thousand weeds bloom!

  4. Framer,

    At a time when our idiot Sheriff thinks taking the light rail to save $72,000 a year is a good idea ($72,000 that he was flushing down the toilet because he was too obstinate to pick up the damn phone to realize he had free parking), I think it’s a capital idea.

    And it’s not a straw man – we spend far more on incarceration than on education in this state, if we’re going to balance the budget, I don’t see why we’re so eager to not look at law enforcement.

    “There are a large portion, however, where house arrest, and/or probation is a good solution.”

    I’d be fine with that too. It would save a ton of money.

  5. Exurban Jon,

    Well, what we’re doing now isn’t helping anything. We flush billions of dollars down a toilet to fight something that is equal to or less than a legal substance (alcohol). Ask any cop if they’d rather deal with a drunk or a stoner, and see the response we’ll get.

    And Jon, I’m fine with the Republican strategy of “Let’s go after kids and teachers”. Should do wonders for us Democrats in 2010.

  6. The ONLY alternative is to cut spending, period.

    Democrats are in the minority, have no solution and recognize raising taxes would be DOA.

    The mainstream media, sympathetic to the Democrats, is obsessed with figuring out how to keep their doors open.

    Arizonans have already made plenty of sacrifices whether by choice or necessity and realize any “pain” is and should be “equal opportunity” across the board.

    Republican lawmakers and the Governor have no excuse NOT to act fiscally responsible and cut across the board.

    Everyone should realize this is a matter of economic survival. Cutting the budget is the only option.

  7. Amen, DSW. The Californian collapse shows what happens when a state follows a shrill, “no-budget-cuts-allowed” policy. That state had everything — EVERYTHING — and is now turning into a third-world basket case.

    As Atlas shrugs off the once Golden State, Arizona can attract their fleeing businesses with a sound tax policy and a sane budget.

    Money does not equal good education. It usually indicates a bloated, indulgent administrative class.

  8. Klute,

    I’m going to call you out on “we spend far more on incarceration than on education in this state.”

    I have the 2008 budget as spending 750 million on the entire Department of Corrections. You could eleiminate the ENTIRE deprtment and you are still not halfway to eliminating the state budget deficit.

    Education spending k-12 is 44% of the entire state budget, btw. it far dwarfs prison spending.

    But you probably knew that.

  9. Framer,

    Arizona spends, what? $6,000 a year per student?

    From today’s Republic:

    So, housing and caring for an inmate for the same time a kid would be in school (8 months, 20 days a month, let’s say) @ $71.66: $11465.60.

    Per inmate, that’s almost double. DUI offenders, small time pot or club drug busts, prostitution, etc. How much money could we save if we didn’t have to spend time pretending we’re doing something about it by locking people up?

    And I never said it was a be-all and end all. But look the city of Mesa to see the wonders of cutting taxes and reliance on the power of the free market to fund society.

  10. Basil St. John says

    Well, Shane, it appears that lefty Rob Robb disagrees with you regarding whether the Democrats have come up with any serious alternatives. But what does he know?

    “As Republicans in the Legislature flinch at some of the budget cuts under consideration, House Democrats came out with their own proposal to get through this fiscal year.

    It’s a serious document.”

Leave a Reply