Fiscal conservatives in Arizona are in shock. After six years of watching Gov. Janet Napolitano's fiscal mismanagement drive our state to the brink of disaster, there was hope for relief earlier this year.
Our new governor, the conservative Jan Brewer, would have the courage and good sense to set us back on course to recovery.
It hasn't worked out that way. Right out of the box, she opined that she might possibly consider a tax increase to balance the budget if all other options had been exhausted. When politicians talk like that, it usually means hold on to your wallet, and this time was no exception.
Soon after, she included a non-specified $1 billion tax hike in her budget reform proposal. "Maturing" rapidly, in the eyes of the mainstream local press, she then threatened a veto for any budget that didn't include new taxes. Now her supporters, with her approval, have threatened a $225,000 media campaign against fellow Republicans who refuse to inflict more taxes on Arizonans during a recession.
Arizona lost 170,000 jobs from February 2008 to February 2009, the second-highest job loss in the nation. During that same time period, government added 4,500 net jobs. With families and businesses across the state cutting back and coping the best they can, sending more of our resources to the growing government sector is just nuts.
Admittedly, Brewer is in a tough spot trying to remediate the consequences of Napolitano's reckless spending. But her budget proposal doesn't do anything to solve our predicament. Under her plan, state revenues, currently in free-fall, would have to grow 40 percent in two years to have a balanced budget, after the temporary tax and stimulus funds were depleted. That's not going to happen.
The only solution to a spending problem is to spend less. That's not pleasant, but the alternative is worse. Principled, responsible leadership is more than kicking the can down the road. Just ask California.
Tom Patterson is chairman of the Goldwater Institute and a former state senator.