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Re: “Friday Night Roundtable: Melvin vs. Farley

Dear Representative Melvin,

I was surprised by your answers to questions about the state budget on Arizona Illustrated on Friday. When asked whether the budget could be balanced with cuts alone, you responded that the state should invest in new nuclear power plants. Even if it were possible for the state to get rich this way, it would take 10-20 years to build a new nuclear plant, so it is irrelevant to our current budget situation.

I also want to take issue with your notion that the state budget has exploded over the past eight years. Budgets of all organizations go up over time because of inflation. In a state like ours with a rapidly growing population, budgets can be expected to increase along with population growth. Even if you wanted the government to offer no new services over time, the proper rate of growth in the budget would be the rate of inflation (including health care) plus the rate of population growth. Over an eight year period, this would amount to more than a 50% increase in the budget. Instead you argue that the budget should have been flat over the past eight years. This is unrealistic in a rapidly growing state. We all agree, however, that the costs for health care are going up far too fast and we need to trim the rate of growth of health care spending somehow. But cutting the budget in half is not realistic. Republicans seem to be trying to sell voters on a utopian idea that we can have the lowest taxes in the nation, spend among the most in corrections per capita, and yet still can attract good jobs. Good jobs come to regions with good schools (K-12 and universities). Teachers won't show up to work if you cut their (already modest) salaries in half. The best new high tech jobs in the nation go to California, Massachusetts, and New York. Businesses move to these states despite high
taxes because the citizens are well educated.

When proposing to slash the budget, please remember that many state organizations leverage funds very effectively, so for each dollar or state support lost we will see a total economic loss of closer to $3. The state universities bring in $2 of competitive federal grant money for each $1 of state support. Funding for universities is so important because of this type of leveraging, and the fact that universities train the next generation of Arizonans.

Concerned citizen
Tucson, AZ

Posted by jonp on 01/10/2010 at 2:04 PM

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