No government has ever spent its way to prosperity. Our proposals help governments be fiscally responsible so citizens can be prosperous.
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.
It is often noted and well remembered that Arizona is one of the states with the fastest growing population in the nation. The growth of our population during the 1990s, 24 percent, ranked only behind Nevada. The state's growth rate in the 1980s was third, once again behind Nevada, and Alaska. This rapid growth has created the worry that Arizona's exceptional natural beauty will soon be buried under tract houses, golf courses and strip malls; a worry leading to several government initiatives to preserve the State's natural heritage.
Those who believe that the government can only provide inferior services should take a look at the National Park Service's line of premier outhouses: $420,000 for one disguised as a corn-crib, $330,000 for one with limestone capstones for its porch railing and a slate roof, and a whopping $1 million for a four-holer with state-of-the-art, solar powered composting units and a backup propane generator.
Utah's Statehood Centennial year is history.And in the opinion of Gov. Mike Leavitt and Stephen M. Studdert, Centennial Commission chairman, the yearlong celebration was a winner, a project that ended in the black and exceeded fiscal expectations without spending a tax dollar.By statute, the commission still is intact until June 1998, but its activities will end June 3, 1997. "That gives us time to finish up the paperwork and such," Studdert said.