By Charles Goyette
Speaking of the legislature: You can call me suspicious, you can even call me unduly suspicious, but you can't call me asleep at the switch. The Goldwater Institute, that does so much good work here in the state, has put together a forum on tax and spending limitations.
The state budget has doubled over the past decade, you probably know. What they [Goldwater] ask is, what is the best way to protect Arizona taxpayers against big government in the future? Well, one proposal is the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights [Sponsored by Sen. Dean Martin]. That [constitutional amendment] would limit [the growth of] general fund spending to [the rate of] population growth plus inflation. If there's any surplus, the taxpayers get their money back.
Colorado's had some experience with it. It's been a big hit in Colorado. So, what if we had that here? If we had the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights implemented here in Arizona in 1996, the Goldwater Institute tells us, there would be a-listen to this-there would be a $200 million budget surplus today! Instead of a shortfall. And taxpayers would have received at least $1.8 billion in tax refunds over the last six years. Gee-do you suppose that people could have done anything with all that money-maybe used that capital to create new jobs, new opportunities, new things for themselves?
So they've got a discussion going on. The Goldwater Institute's putting together a forum on this Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. And it is Wednesday morning of this week-10:00 to 11:00. They've got refreshments. It's downtown at the Old Capitol building, room 107.
Now, you could call me suspicious, but don't say this stuff gets past me. [The forum is] ten o'clock in the morning on Wednesday. A movement to do something about the state and [its] proclivity to spend every single dollar in sight-and some that aren't in sight yet. So, what's happening down at the legislature? Well, for the first time in my recent memory, the president of the Senate, Randall Gnant, on Wednesday morning, has scheduled a floor session of the Committee of the Whole. He's got all the Senators together. So, they can't be there to hear about the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.
Now, normally, they call the Committee of the Whole together in the afternoons. Maybe they have occasionally assembled them in the morning in the past, but I will tell you it's the exception, rather than the rule, at least in my memory. So, on Wednesday morning, when a big production has been made to acquaint the legislature with the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, down at the state capital, suddenly and unexpectedly, they are called into a Committee of the Whole-all of them, the Senators-in a floor session meeting at that time.
I don't know. It sure makes you suspicious, doesn't it? They almost never schedule one in the morning like that. A little bit strange? You've got to watch these guys all the time.