For six years, Gov. Janet Napolitano steered the state government toward a budget crisis. She and Democratic legislators, with the help some so-called "moderate" Republicans, have increased the state budget by 59 percent from fiscal year 2004 to 2008, while population and inflation grew by 30 percent. The result was to increase the size of government to unsustainable levels and create massive budget deficits.
As stated by the Arizona chapter of Americans For Prosperity, "With more than $11 billion in spending commitments (including formula spending increases and cumulative K-12 rollovers), and revenues unlikely to top $9 billion, the state government is looking at a structural deficit for FY 2010 of over $2 billion, or 20 percent of the state budget - one of the nation's worst budget crises."
Napolitano's real record:
A 17-percent spending increase in 2004, which occurred when Democrats and several fiscally liberal Republicans passed the governor's budget bill.
Spending that was dramatically higher than estimates provided by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and university economists.
The governor's enormously unbalanced fiscal year 2009 budget, which the Arizona chapter of Americans For Prosperity called "a $10.9 billion budget masquerading as a $9.9 billion budget," at a time when revenues were projected to be $9.1 billion (the budget passed this June, with the help of all Democrats and a handful of fiscally liberal Republicans).
A billion-dollar borrowing plan by universities, to be paid for by the declining lottery sales.
The governor has now requested a few hundred million dollars from the federal government, knowing that the national debt is nearly $10.7 trillion and out of control, which puts American taxpayers at further risk. She has shown no respect for the taxpayer, for families who actually work for a living, or for small businesses, who also bear the brunt of those reckless spending policies.
The historic income and property tax cuts demanded by the Republicans and signed by Napolitano in 2006 were tainted by the excessive spending increases she extracted from the Legislature in the bargain. For every surplus dollar in 2006 that was returned to taxpayers, two dollars went to new spending.
Napolitano has been reckless in her spending, and is now leaving Arizona with a huge deficit. Had we kept spending in line with population growth and inflation, we would have a surplus today instead of a deficit, even with the economic downturn. Over-spending, not under-taxation, or a bad economy, is the reason for Arizona's huge deficit.
Arizonans have spoken by electing a majority of fiscally responsible legislators. Now we must downsize government, stop automatic spending increases, eliminate wasteful programs, restore personal responsibility, require transparency in government, reduce business regulation and allow the free market to work.
We must not raise taxes. What we need desperately is to revisit the terms of 1998's Proposition 105, which forces automatic spending increases even in times when we cannot pay our bills. We also need a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that limits the growth of government spending to no more than the combined rate of inflation plus population.
If a Taxpayer Bill of Rights had been in place since 2004, we would have a surplus today, and we would have returned $4 billion to the taxpayers, allowing them to keep the fruits of their labors.
Sen.-elect Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, will serve as the next chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.