Monday, December 21, 2009

Jan Brewer: "I surrender"

Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer held an "emergency" meeting of her cabinet on Monday.

There, her agency heads and the press were treated to this presentation on the state's budget crisis (summary: we're hosed).

Her address to those gathered before her is here.

She announced a number of unilateral moves to address the budget shortfall.

From the address -

Therefore, at my personal direction, the following steps will be taken immediately:

ONE: I am ordering my budget office to work with each of you to develop additional contingency plans in anticipation of additional agency reductions and to adjust spending allotments accordingly.

TWO: I am also ordering agencies to transfer monies out of all eligible special line items to ensure that they have sufficient funds to cover mandatory expenditures.

THREE: I am asking the Department of Education and the Board of Regents to notify school districts and universities to prepare for additional payment deferrals later in the year, beyond those already budgeted.

FOURTH, I am ordering the Arizona Department of Corrections to return to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) -- as soon as possible -- all non-violent criminal aliens as is allowed under existing law.


FIVE: I am restating my Arizonans-only directives to state agencies to ensure that public benefits are only provided to those who are legally in this country and reside in this state.


SIX: I am asking ALL directors with discretionary programs to provide me with a list of non-mandatory programs that can be capped due to a lack of funding.

While many of these programs are important, and their freeze will be heartbreaking and difficult for many Arizona families, the Legislature simply has not committed enough funding for their continuation and we must divert resources to the programs that ARE mandated.

Starting today, I am implementing a wait list for KidsCare, the children’s health insurance program at AHCCCS. There will be a hard cap on childcare assistance wait lists at DES.


SEVEN: In order to sustain the most critical services, I am asking all citizens receiving state services to contribute more toward their benefits. Effective immediately, agencies are to implement means testing and sliding fee schedules to ensure the neediest among us receive the most help.

EIGHT, I am taking immediate steps to enhance the management of our state’s cash flow. On your desks you will find instructions to change the processing of state warrants.


NINE: I am establishing a Privatization Commission to expand the use of private sector services in state government. This commission will be charged with developing best practices, identifying areas of state government appropriate for privatization and developing plans for the implementation of privatization solutions. Privatization done properly will help the state reduce operational costs, improve service delivery and quality, and lead to innovation.

And FINALLY: In the first week of the New Year, I will be convening the legislative leadership of both parties. I will not be asking for theories, or for a vote count of what might or might not work politically. I will ask for honest, comprehensive and TIMELY solutions to the current budget deficit.

Now, while most of the MSM attention is going to the part about deporting imprisoned undocumented immigrants, that's already done under existing law.

What really should get the attention of most folks are her plans for capping enrollment for KidsCare and other safety net programs, screwing with state aid to all schools and privatizing government.

Let's sum up here: she's dealing with the legislature's failure to balance the budget because some of the most extreme members of her own already extreme caucus felt that the budget proposals before the lege weren't draconian enough. They embarrassed her and their own leaders by scuttling anything resembling a proposal that didn't dismantle the state's social safety net, public education system, and Arizona government itself.

So what does she propose?

Giving the nuttiest of the nuts *exactly* what they wanted all along.

Why do I think that the last of her ideas, the one about talking to legislative leadership "of both parties" isn't going to work, especially since the nuts have just learned that their political bullying tactics have worked?

BTW - Brewer makes a show of asking for "honest, comprehensive and TIMELY solutions to the current budget deficit."

Funny, but just such things were offered to her months ago by the Democrats in the lege -

She and her Republican associates in the lege haven't been interested in real solutions before this, and there's no evidence that they are really interested now.

Coverage from the AZ Capitol Times here; Howard Fischer of Capitol Media has coverage here, courtesy the East Valley Tribune; Arizona Republic coverage here; Phoenix New Times coverage here.


Eli Blake said...

All I have to say is

1. I'm a parent, and parents vote.

2. This is the price we pay for electing a guy like John McCain to the Senate who refuses to help direct much federal aid to Arizona.

Thane Eichenauer said...

Eli Blake, there is only a single pie to slice up, Arizona and 49 states cannot benefit to the detriment of the "other" 50 states. Plunder incorporated via the federal government is a net loss (unless you work for Plunder incorporated).

We will see what the results are of the current process come November. I have a hard time seeing the Democrats win by claiming "we should-a raised taxes a year ago" as their campaign motto (just my opinion). The Democratic plan to raise taxes (but only on country club memberships and other taxes on "the rich") is (again, in my opinion) not going to motivate many Arizona voters 11 months from now.

cpmaz said...

Eli -

I just hope enough parents remember come next fall.

As for McCain, I am all for pointing out his failings, but this one falls on the lege and the governor. While it would be *really* nice if McCain (and his saddle parter Kyl) would actually work for AZ, the state budget mess belongs to state elected officials.

Thane - Just raising taxes won't fix what ails the state, and no D is advocating that. One of the main revenue problems has been the Rs reflexive and constant lowering of taxes on their corporate and wealthy benefactors.

The political expediency of that outweighed any sense of fiscal responsibility or professionalism.

Now we are all paying for it.