No government has ever spent its way to prosperity. Our proposals help governments be fiscally responsible so citizens can be prosperous.
In the 1979 movie, "Being There," Peter Sellers plays Chance, a simple gardener who is catapulted to fame and renown on the strength of his gardening maxims, which the world takes as wise metaphors. If Chance were to listen to the debate over balancing the 2003 Arizona budget, it is easy to imagine what he might conclude: "You should first get rid of the weeds before you trim your garden."
The primary cause of this year's fiscal deficit is excessive government spending. State spending has grown far more than needed to keep pace with Arizona's growing population. Whereas population has grown by only 36 percent, government spending has grown by 63 percent.1 Contrary to some reports in the media and the legislature, the mild recession has not left the state withering on the vine. The current state budget is the largest in Arizona's history.
Phoenix, AZ-In a Goldwater Institute study to be released Thursday, May 2, economist Stephen Slivinski outlines over $233 million in programs in Arizona's 2003 general fund budget that could be eliminated, privatized, or reduced. Slivinski offers these baseline program cuts as an alternative to budget plans released this week by the legislature and the governor's office.
This legislative session, Arizona lawmakers will sweat away trying to cope with a $1.6 billion budget shortfall. Yet even such a huge deficit has not stopped legislators from wanting to expand an already overextended government.
When politicians propose ways to balance the budget many of their solutions are bad ideas. Governor Hull has proposed one of the worst. Instead of offering enough spending cuts to eliminate the entire deficit, she proposes to cover $283 million of the budget gap by having the state borrow the money.
Arizona is facing a $675 million budget deficit this year. This budget crisis is a product of irresponsible and out-of-control government spending during previous years. If the state budget had grown no faster than the rate of population growth plus inflation since 1995, the budget would be $650 million smaller this year. To balance the budget, the state legislature must cut spending to that level during a special session that will begin on November 13. The rest of the budget gap could be covered by transfers from Arizona's $350 million rainy day fund.
Arizona Works is a four-year, pilot welfare reform program currently operating in the eastern part of Maricopa County, and soon starting in Mohave County. It has several important features that distinguish it from the state's regular welfare program EMPOWER Redesign, and make it one of the most innovative welfare reform programs in the nation.
In 1998 the attorneys general of 46 states, the District of Columbia and various territories signed an unprecedented settlement agreement with the five major tobacco companies. The terms of the settlement put curbs on the companies' ability to market, advertise, sponsor, lobby and engage in trade association activities. It also forces cigarette makers to pay a record financial recovery, including paying an estimated $196 billion to the states over the first 25 years of the settlement. Arizona's share is an estimate $100 million per year.
Over the past 30 years, rail public transit has seen a revival in American cities; especially in cities in the Sun Belt and West that were formed by the automobile. The vast majority of studies indicates that any benefits from the new light rail systems could have been achieved in a more cost-effective, albeit less dramatic, manner through other means. The proposed Central Phoenix/East Valley Light Rail Project will lead to a deterioration in mobility, have little impact on air pollution and actually lead to an increase in energy consumption and emission of greenhouse gases.
Should taxpayers be asked to pay more to fund expansions in existing public transit? That is the question facing city governments throughout the Phoenix metropolitan region. While proponents of increased funding of transit are doing their best to promote such tax increases, municipal government would do well to consider the implications before rushing to board the transit "bandwagon". An objective analysis of these implications indicates that the costs appear to far outweigh the benefits.