Saturday, February 14, 2009

Look!! Up in the air! It's a bird! It's a plane! It'''s...a Trial Balloon???

Trial Balloon (from - "a project or scheme tentatively announced in order to test public opinion"

From the AZ Republic (emphasis mine) -
Faced with a sliding economy and deepening state deficit, Gov. Jan Brewer's office is quietly making plans for a spring special election at which voters would be asked to raise taxes and loosen spending mandates on certain state programs, The Arizona Republic has learned.

The proposal remains in its infancy, and details are few. But the Governor's Office is contemplating a temporary increase in taxes that would generate $1 billion annually for the state for a period of two or three years, two sources with knowledge of the discussions told The Republic under condition of anonymity. Additionally, voters would be asked to ease protections that currently block lawmakers from redirecting or cutting funds for voter-approved programs, such as a 2006 initiative that increased tobacco taxes to fund early-childhood education.


Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman maintained that "all options are on the table" and said that the governor hasn't signed off on any proposals for a special election.

Translation: "Let's throw this out there and see how loud the screaming is going to be."

You know that the Arizona chapter of the Flat Earth Society (aka - Republicans in the lege) will scream at the thought of doing anything to alleviate the budget crisis, and normal citizens will scream at the thought of weakening or even repealing the Voter Protection Act.

Assuming (for the sake of having something interesting to write about) that the Governor actually brings forth such a proposal (more likely than not, though far from a certainty) and that the lege cooperates in putting the proposal on the ballot (less than likely, though not totally out of the question), here's what I expect to be in any proposal, and expect *won't* be in any proposal...

In: A temporary personal income tax hike

Out: Even a hint of a corporate income tax hike

In: A specific sunset date for any tax increase

Out: A specific sunset date for any weakening of the Voter Protection Act

In: A requirement of a simple majority vote in the lege to go after voter protected funds

Out (and should be in): A requirement of a 3/4 majority vote, both to go after voter-protected funds and to decrease or repeal any tax. It takes a 3/4 vote to raise taxes; it should take a similar vote to go in the opposite direction.

We can't make the Republicans become fiscally responsible, but we can minimize the impact of their fiscal foolishness on the state.

This may also be a signal that Brewer really is interested in running for a full term - if she didn't need to appeal to the moderates and independents she'll need to win a high-profile statewide election, she would just hand the keys to the treasury over to Russell Pearce and John Kavanagh. If she's running however, she is smart enough to know that a Rep isn't going to win a significant statewide election without support from outside of the GOP's Kool-Aid drinking base.

(There have been rumors that she wasn't interested in running, mostly due to health reasons.)

David Safier at Blog for Arizona offers his take on this topic here; State Rep. Daniel Patterson's take here.


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