Taking Responsibility

Take ResponsibilityWhen state spending becomes unsustainable on existing revenues, one of two actions must occur: spend less or tax more.  There really aren’t too many options.

Just as with your personal household, when your debt and expenses exceed your paycheck there’s only two avenues available for you; take a second job and increase income, or cut back on expenses.  State government is no different.

Proponents of the Governor Brewer’s *temporary* tax, decry the absence of any alternative “plans” being offered up other then their obvious “… lets tax” solution.  But where will these outspoken tax proponents be in two years when the *temporary* tax fails and yet another tax hike is necessary to sustain unsustainable state spending programs?

The state is without discipline.  How dare the public – who has had to tighten their belts and reduce excess spending – require middle management state employees abstain from their comfy training seminars complete with breakfast bar?   I can guarantee you that somewhere next weekend, a group of more than 40 state employees from some agency will be meeting at a nice hotel conference room to discuss the latest in some paperwork compliance reporting activity.

Middle management government  bureaucrats are highly skilled at the tactics of budget cutting avoidance.  They attend conferences and seminars on the topic, and there are articles in bureaucratic professional journals with tips on avoiding budget cuts.

The proponents of the Brewer tax increase we have heard from insist there are no other options.  Perhaps they are simply not listening to the obvious suggestion; to boldly go where no state budget cutting has gone before.  However, that’s painful and carries consequences.  Its much easier to advocate a tax increase – that the economists with the Goldwater Institute have strongly suggested won’t work – than to suck it up and go where no one has gone before and find more state spending waste.

To listen to the tax proponents, you would think that Arizona has the most efficient state government in the United States.  How wonderful for us!  There is no more waste; every dollar the state receives is being used to its maximum efficiency.  Arizona should be a model for everyone else.

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.  I opened this discussion with the concept of Taking Responsibility for a reason.  It seems that once upon a time this was an American cultural value.  What about today?  Will those individuals proudly proclaiming the need for a tax increase be standing with their heads just as high someday in the future when the tax increase fails?  It will.

Oh, but these are calculating men; men of reason, reasonable souls.  They are fully aware that with the right infusion of funds from their clients, the public can be easily made to forget the sins of the past.  After all, who were the Republicans who voted for the unsustainable spending of Janet Napolitano and against the best efforts of their own party?  Do the voters in their own districts even know their responsibility in creating this budgetary nightmare?  Have those men stood up and said, “… I was wrong”?

You already know the answer.

The bottom line to this matter is quite simple and can be summed up thusly:  Pay the Piper now, or pay the Piper more later.  There is an alternative to the Brewer tax increase, but perhaps some don’t want to hear it.


  1. 10 paragraphs and no solution. If you say cuts, lay them out. Leadership tried that and came up $500 million or so short. So genius, quit pontificating and tell me what your plan is for cuts.

    Is your quote indicative of the latest sham proposal to “borrow” our way to prosperity? “Pay the Piper now, or pay the Piper more later.” That’s almost more offensive than a tax increase. At least I know what I’m getting with taxes and can control it at the voting booth.

    It was only ’09 that Nappy passed her budget with a few lost souls. Years before that she had all the R votes in the world. And now, we’re going to try and do the very things we all hammered her on just a few short months ago.

    I’ll give you one thing, our memories are short lived.

  2. Veritas Vincit says

    “Years before that she had all the R votes in the world” not quite, but then you know that.

    Private practice: Issue a directive to each department head and supervisor to submit their best effort at reducing their budget.

    Then send the submissions back and simply tell them they’ll have to do better. If not, we’ll start with your job. You have 15 working days, get-er-done.

    The state budget is quite complex, and as you are well aware, many budget items are neatly tucked away so as not to draw undue attention.

    Its a game of chicken and state middle management isn’t blinking – make them blink.

    Play one state agency against another and may the best justification win. Tough talk for tough times. A tax increase is simply pain avoidance.

    What is wrong with simply putting the federal government on notice that any and all federal mandated programs will cease as of May 31, 2009 unless they are fully funded by the federal government – period.

    What is wrong with unlocking the initiative mandated spending programs and looking at them carefully? Cutting and adjusting as required.

    A tax increase is the no-pain no-gain easy way out because YOU won’t have to face the music in two years. You are correct, the public has a short memory and public relations media mavens are good at what they do.

    Please, I am NOT referring to line employees or service providers, but to that soft fat middle belly of state employment and budget.

  3. A few points. Brewer already asked for 20%. Our proud Rep stalwarts Hoskins and Arpaio have refused (how about Deputies double dipping with retirement and full pay).
    I agree, ask for more and be specific in fat you want cut. Keep in mind, the hole we’re looking at with full cuts is $500M. That alone won’t solve the problem because that fat just isn’t that big.

    105 cuts are part of her proposal. I wouldn’t support it if it weren’t part of the conversation. Those interest groups aren’t just going to write a check and let you take money though.

    Don’t think any state has ever taken on the Feds on mandated programs that are unfunded. I’m game to make AZ #1. Anything I’ve ever read though says we’d lose.

    I don’t say there shouldn’t be pain. No matter what, Brewer will cut more than any other governor ever has. The math isn’t on the cuts side though so it’s better we all move on and come up with solutions that are realistic.

  4. FORTITUDE says

    We are in DEEP trouble period.

    Legislative leaders need to break out the budget chain saw and cut this budget even further.

    IGNORE the Arizona Education Association. They will bitch and complain whether you cut $100 or $100 Million.

    There are a lot more private schools operating on shoestring budgets and doing fine. The outcomes are even better!

    Do the right thing just like everyone else. Stop spending, Stop going further into debt and Don’t even think about raising taxes!

    C’mon Governor, get back to your principles. You know that the power to tax is the power to destroy.

  5. If we gave every kid a voucher — including home and privately schooled children — we could simply set the number at a point that reduces the educational budget by … say … 25 percent. Why not?

  6. middle managment isnt really a problem in AZ. That kind of crap comes right out of the big coast states. The problem in Arizona is mostly found in healthcare and education. The rest of the budget is so miniscule, you’d have to just get rid of whole sections instead of cutting them and that usually causes problems down the road that cost more money than your saving.

    So you’ve got to cut healthcare and education, no other way about it.

    I mean when you add up budgets. The entire DPS budget, the ENTIRE BUDGET, DES craps out in 2 days. If you took the entire budget for ADOT’s administration costs, ADHS spends that in 3 days. Though, ADOT has a lot of money, but those are for the contractors that get hired for actual jobs.

    This piecemeil approach is crap.

    Just wack educataion, healthcare and lets get a real efficiency hearings held, and go through each agency section by section and you’ll save more structurally that way.

  7. Except for freshman – why is working on the budge so hard for Legislators? Pierce and others have been working on the same crap for years. Why cant the conservatives offer up more budget cuts?
    Maybe if they stopped all the back room dealing and did things in the open, they could make more progress. It is a freaking shame that GPEC has to hold a special event for the public to get some insight on the budget issues. The loser legislature should be doing the samething every day, instead of trying to craft a budget in secret.
    Travis is right about going through the agencies section by section to verify efficiency and effectiveness – but why is this a new activity for our Republican legislators? They have been telling us for years (every election) that they are working hard to reduce taxes and spending. WTF have they been doing?

  8. Even better now Joe Mesa- this secret dealing has produced what??? BORROWING!!! At least I get to vote on a tax increase and I can choose not to shop and be taxed. They are taking out a mortgage on our future and pretend that’s not worse!!

    It hasn’t been 6 months since they hammered on Nappy for proposing the same thing.


  9. Pricinct Committeeman says

    You wrote, “They attend conferences and seminars on the topic, and there are articles in bureaucratic professional journals with tips on avoiding budget cuts.”

    Nice sounding, but not backed up with any reference. Zero.

    That does a great disservice to those of us who are trying to define solutions to the budget crisis. Rhetoric doesn’t solve anything.

  10. Veritas Vincit says

    Start with Terry Goddard’s expensive consultant on the state payroll. Has he been fired yet?

    Start with ending all conferences and dubious travel expenses.

    Evaluate a 4 day work week for all non-line level state employees supervisory levels and above.

    What you’re suggesting Roger is that state government can’t loose weight. Its voracious appetite for “budget” is more important that an economic recovery.

    Have your tax increase – but be prepared to stand up on TV and say “…its our faults that the economy didn’t improve when it should have.” Because that’s the net effect of a tax increase in this economic environment.

    And no, don’t put words in my mouth please; I’ve said nothing about borrowing – which, would be another disaster should that occur.

  11. Smarter than a 5th Grader says

    Veritas I have seen the budget an know what the state payroll system looks like. There is a lot of fat but it doesn’t add up to $500 million. It will take more than just cuts.

  12. Veritas Vincit says

    Ok, that’s a start STA5hGdr… what about travel, training, and other soft budget items?

    How many state functions are conducted at hotel conference facilities that could be conducted at the local community college?

    How many activities can be out-sourced or privatized?

    I’m simply talking about a new state government paradigm of thinking of how business is conducted.

    Giving in on the status quo will insure nothing changes. Allow the seismic shift to occur now rather than later (and I’m not talking debt).

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