Saturday, April 18, 2009

More impressions from Thursday's Republican "town hall" on the budget

...From the beginning of theThe Reps liked to talk about the state's "structural deficit" - the state doesn't take in enough in revenue every year to cover its basic annual fiscal commitments. Every budget is balanced by an array of loans, federal money, and accounting gimmicks (and more!) just so the lege can say that it didn't raise taxes.

The funny thing is that most of the "non-tax revenue enhancements" that they talked about using to address the state's budget deficit - selling state assets like parks, prisons, and the like or securitizing future lottery revenues (basically a loan using lottery revenue as collateral) are have one-time only benefits. Their ideas would do *nothing* to address that very stuctural deficit that they discussed.

In fact, but reducing the state's assets and committing future revenues to debt service instead of public services would only worsen the state's structural deficit.

In short, the Reps don't want to *solve* the state's budget problems, they want to *aggravate* them.

That way even if there is a change in the lege next year, the structural damage to the state's public service infrastructure that they are inflicting will continue to have devastating effects long after they are consigned to electoral irrelevance.

...One thing actually made me a little proud - in spite of all of the anger in the audience on Thursday, people were civil and respectful.

There was a group of ASU students who called out from the audience for a statement on the $1200 fee that Michael Crow wants to impose on students to offset the lege's cuts and a home school mom who stormed out of the hall in protest of all of the public school teachers there arguing against cuts to public ed, yet neither of them stepped out of line. They just added a little color to the proceedings. :))

...The Reps, especially Kavanagh, liked to call the expectations that education faces cuts of upwards of $900 million misinformation and a "doomsday scenario." He said that number was thrown around by Democrats to scare people.

The only problem with that position? That "$900 million" number was the Reps' own number.

I'm not sure if the Reps' disavowal of the "$900 million" number is because of the outrage of the citizenry, even some Republicans, or if the plan all along was to frighten folks with *massive* cuts before settling on cuts that are merely *huge*, and then patting themselves on the back and saying "Hey - it could have been worse. We really went to the mat for education."



Thane Eichenauer said...

I am pleased that there are a few people who don't ignore the reality that government reliance on borrowing is a bad idea.

Can somebody point that out to the folks who operate the federal government?

Eli Blake said...


The problem of course is that in Arizona we had nine straight years of massive tax cuts during the 1990's when things were going pretty well so that in a good year things were on a shoestring budget. In a bad year...

Plus, the law that also passed during those years of unbridled growth stipulating that it takes a supermajority in both houses to pass any kind of a tax increase, effectively making them impossible to pass.

In order for any kind of a control system to work effectively (whether we are talking about controlling state revenues via taxation or the temperature in your home via a thermostat) you have to have the ability to adjust in both directions.

Eli Blake said...

Meanwhile, the 2010 U.S. News rankings of Law Schools came out.The University of Arizona law school dropped five spots from last year, from #38 to #43.

Just another raindrop in the storm.

Eli Blake said...

Correction, U of A dropped eight places from #35 to #43.

Meanwhile, ASU's law school also dropped, three places to #55.