Hey Big Spender! Napolitano Administration Spends Twice as Much as Previous Governors

Posted on March 29, 2007 | Type: Press Release
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Phoenix--How do Arizona governors stack up against each other when it comes to spending your money? In A Comparison of State Spending Growth under Arizona Governors, Robert Robb, a founding director of the Goldwater Institute, compares state general fund spending during Governor Janet Napolitano's first term to that of the previous five Arizona governors. 

Spending under the Napolitano administration is double that of her five predecessors when measured against population growth and inflation. The first Napolitano administration increased spending 29 percentage points more than population and inflation, compared to an average 11 percentage points for her predecessors. State general fund spending was up 54 percent during Napolitano's first term.

This report sheds light on the claim that Arizona's spending habits are moderate. The budget under this gubernatorial administration has increased by 50 percent, a greater increase than under the past five administrations, says Goldwater Institute Chairman Tom Patterson.

The report compares spending growth against common benchmarks like personal income and population growth to put the numbers in context. Spending during Napolitano's first term increased 13 percentage points more than personal income growth and 29 percentage points more than population growth and inflation. Napolitano's closest spending rival is Bruce Babbitt. During Babbitt's second term, spending increased 17 percentage points faster than population and inflation.

Some argue that budget growth shouldn't be compared to population growth and inflation because vital government programs may need to grow faster than the population at large. But, during Napolitano's first term, demand for k-12 education, low-income health care, and prisons did not increase significantly faster than the general population. In fact, k-12 student enrollment grew at the exact same rate.

Mr. Robb, now a columnist for the Arizona Republic, argues that this spending trend is dangerous for the states long-term economic health. Spending creates the demand for taxation and the adverse relationship between taxes and state economic growth is well documented, he says. Between 1995 and 2004, the ten states that increased spending the most lagged behind the national average on gross domestic product and wage growth.

To keep the states economy humming, Mr. Robb recommends limiting this years budget growth to that of personal income growth, about six or seven percent. He also recommends that the legislature refer to the voters a reduction in the states constitutional spending limit. He says these measures will ensure that the budget does not grow faster than taxpayers ability to pay for it.

Download a copy of A Comparison of State Spending Growth under Arizona Governors here. To receive a copy in the mail, please contact Jessa Haugebak at (602) 462-5000 or jhaugebak@goldwaterinstitute.org. The Goldwater Institute is a non-profit research organization developing policy solutions that foster economic and educational freedom.

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