Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Gov. Brewer addressed the budget working its way through the Legislature in the most reasonable way possible, an editorial in the Arizona Republic. Apparently, she was for substantial cuts, but not to the scale that the Senate proposed.
Last week, the state Senate took those cuts and added another $536 million - cuts to schools, local governments and assistance to the needy that I believe are not in the best interest of Arizona. It should come as no surprise to anyone that I still support my budget proposal over the Senate plan.
The Senate bills now await action in the House of Representatives.
So, where do we go from here?
I will continue to work jointly with the state Senate and House leadership to find an acceptable budget solution.
In these negotiations, we should be guided by the following four principles:
Budget cuts should not devastate our state priorities of public safety, education and assistance for the most needy. While I am willing to consider additional budget cuts in partnership with our stakeholders and legislators, these cuts cannot be imposed according to some arbitrary standard that is counterproductive in the long term. We can't forget that a high-achieving education system is critical to our long-term economic health.
Budget cuts should be targeted and permanently reduce the size and scope of state government, not simply "thin the soup." Across-the-board or lump-sum cuts are a way of avoiding making the hard decisions in the budget, and they reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of all government services. The public deserves fiscal transparency and a reasonable road map with the budget for what programs are facing cuts and what services will remain standing.
As much as possible, the budget should avoid shifting costs onto another level of government. Don't be fooled - shifting costs currently paid by the state to city and county governments is not a reduction in the size and scope of government. Often, it results in a local tax increase. As Navajo County Supervisor David Tenney recently testified before the Senate, "There is nothing conservative about putting the state in the black by shifting red [state costs] to counties."