Everyone acknowledges — even Gov. Napolitano — that Arizona law requires a balanced budget.
As Bob Robb points out in today’s Republic:
In all, the Legislature authorized $1.3 billion more in spending than it anticipates receiving in revenue next year.
Even if you assume that the state should be financing buildings, next year’s budget has about an $800 million deficit between same-year revenues and operating expenditures.
None of this is in dispute. We are running a deficit this year in violation of our state’s highest law. So, when the Governor and a majority of legislators conspire to violate the Constitution, what recourse do the people have? Perhaps more significantly, do the people even care?
There was a time when the media served as a check on governmental corruption and abuse. But that was before news became more about entertainment than anything substantive — after all, how else would we know that flights from Phoenix to Las Vegas are wild and involve lots of drinking without this important coverage, which even includes video, a slideshow and photos!
The Republic does cover the budget today, with a feature about how the “pain” wasn’t as bad as everyone feared — “the sky didn’t really fall,” according to one source.
No one wanted the sky to fall. No one wanted to see the “vulnerable” get hurt by this state budget. But there are ways to cut a bloated budget that has grown much more rapidly than our state’s population and still accomplish essential state functions.
We have still not conducted a top-to-bottom review of state spending to determine whether spending is (1) authorized by our laws and Constitution, and (2) accomplishing its desired purpose effectively. The budget process at the Capitol continues to be based on last year’s spending assumptions, with an argument over what the percentage of increase should be. There is no elimination of wasteful spending, and no discussion of appropriate use of precious taxpayer funds.
On second thought, maybe the Las Vegas story does make sense. Not only does Las Vegas represent blowing off legal boundaries — which this budget does — but Las Vegas certainly understands reliance on increased gambling to fund additional spending, another hallmark of the unconstitutional Arizona budget of 2008.