Antenori: We Cut Gift to Science Foundation Arizona to Help Fund Education

The story on Science Foundation Arizona ("Investment Issues," Sept. 10) covers an important topic: economic development. However, the article does not tell the whole story.

When I entered the Legislature in January, the state faced an unprecedented budget crisis brought on by years of irresponsible spending and a severe economic recession. The decline in tax revenue was so rapid and significant that it required a midyear correction to the 2009 budget. The Legislature is constitutionally obligated to balance the budget. Facing a $2 billion deficit, we had to make some very tough choices.

I am committed to protecting K-12 education funding, both as a legislator and parent with two sons in Arizona's public schools. There were many programs, projects and spending measures that did not meet the same priority as funding education, public safety and programs that care for the state's most vulnerable citizens. Science Foundation Arizona was one of those nice-to-have extras that we were not able to fund.

As stated in the article, there was no mechanism for a return on the investment of the $60 million already channeled to Science Foundation Arizona by Arizona taxpayers. In the business world, when you give money to someone without expecting any of it back, it is called a gift. During this budget crisis, I could not see turning over another $22 million in scarce taxpayer dollars to a program which, for the most part, benefits private business. If we had not adjusted the gift of taxpayer funds to Science Foundation Arizona, the result would have been an equal reduction in dollars for K-12 education.

I support intelligent economic development, so I set out to find an alternate and permanent funding source for Science Foundation Arizona, one that did not come from the general fund and would provide a return on investment to the state. I worked very hard on a win-win solution modeled after similar successful programs in Texas and Pennsylvania. Had it been implemented, it would have helped support research and economic development in Arizona.

The crisis atmosphere at the Capitol simply did not provide me with ample time to educate the various stakeholders on the benefits of the proposed model and the huge potential return. I will continue to work on a solution in the coming legislative session.

Jim Nintzel's article also mentions the success the country of Ireland has had implementing a similar system of economic development. I agree: Ireland is an excellent example of the dramatic economic prosperity that can result from lower taxes, reducing government regulation and encouraging private investment, something I have strongly supported and will continue to support.

As a program manager for a large manufacturer in the defense industry, I've seen firsthand the negative impact that Arizona's current tax structure is having on business development. Arizona's economy must be diversified and geared toward the very competitive global environment. The quickest way to do so is by reforming Arizona's corporate and personal income-tax system and limiting government interference in the free market.

A friendlier economic environment will help Arizona's businesses expand, and it will attract new businesses and jobs to our state. More jobs and economic activity will increase the tax revenue needed to pay for a world-class educational system and help fund additional economic development. We should all agree that would be good for Arizona.

Rep. Frank Antenori

Serraglio's Views on Spraying Buffelgrass Do a Disservice to the Desert

The recent article by Randy Serraglio (Sept. 3) is so stupid and irresponsible that I have to comment.

Actually, the first half of it is fine in presenting the dire situation our desert faces with the spread of buffelgrass. Then he dismisses spraying the grass with such ignorance that I am surprised he considers himself a friend of the desert and an environmentalist. Your paper's past articles on buffelgrass have been helpful informing readers about the subject. But I fear that Serraglio's histrionics and defeatism concerning buffelgrass will discourage people from volunteering, since he says it is a lost cause. He is wrong about that.

I have been working with those at both Saguaro National Park and Tucson Mountain Park for more than a year. All the volunteers I have talked to (and we need more of them) support judicious spraying as part of the eradication efforts. We don't need wannabe writers like Serraglio who are just naysayers with limited understanding. Pulling buffelgrass requires going over the area for a few years to get the last seedlings. It is not an impossibility.

The four county supervisors who voted for spraying were sensible and responsible. No reasonable environmentalists, such as us volunteers, "squirmed" about the decision. Only armchair-purist enviros would be bothered by it. The "inflamed neighborhood activists" were mainly going with the knee-jerk reaction of spraying = bad. They found out at the meetings that helicopter spraying is very precise. Twelve one-acre patches away from development have been selected for treatment.

I encourage your readers to go to buffelgrass.org to find out about volunteer opportunities.

Brian Brainerd


In Soundbites (Sept. 17), due to an editing error, we noted that Justin Miller renamed Red Switch as The Red Switch; it was actually Josh Levine who changed the name. We apologize for the mistake.


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