Friday, April 09, 2010



As with any problem solving set, the solution can only be achieved by a structured approach. Begin with the definition of the problem:

The state of Arizona is obligated to pay out more than the revenue amount.

Various approaches to solving this problem have been forwarded:

Spending must stay as is so we must raise the amount of revenue.
a. raise taxes
b. increase business activity and thus revenue through taxes
c. sell off assets
d. increase debt by borrowing to spend

Spending can be cut back and less revenue will be needed
entitlements take large part of revenue
constitutional amendment needed to change entitlements
cutbacks in discretionary programs
cutbacks in police and fire
cut salaries/pay

A new budget can be formed from scratch, using ‘necessary services’ as criteria earmarked for funding.
a. freedom to fund what is needed.
b. if default is declared, contracts are voided.
c. after basic needs like water, police, fire, sanitation are funded, then discretionary
spending for the remainder of the funds, if any.

The first two approaches have been melded and used. The net result was a continuing budget deficit and heavier debt load. The Constitution of Arizona is now a parody, as the debt load exceeds the stated limit. Permanent overrides are now discussed, yet nothing can be done about the mandated spending.

Bankruptcy. What will be paid first with cash? Police? Probably.
Will it ruin our credit rating? Should we worry about that? Didn’t somebody sign an agreement that our interest rates on borrowed money would go up if our credit rating slips?

Instead of wasting time trying to make taxpayers pay for what is forbidden to fund in the constitution of the state of Arizona, why not focus efforts on another referendum? How about a referendum to amend the referendum/initiative laws that requires a sunset clause of no more than 5 years of financial obligation with a specific project stated, instead of the current version of pure permanent entitlement, with no strings on the funds. A change in the law could also sunset all existing permanent entitlements.

Before voting anything budgetary, think does this add to entitlements, does this raise what we are obligated to pay out? Amending the constitution to allow for tax money to go to private religious schools will increase the educational obligation where none exists today. Not a good move. We can’t afford it and it is against the constitution. We can’t put teaching religions at the tax trough. Isn’t it against the Federal Constitution?

You can’t afford to pass legislation that increases spending. If this tax increase does not pass, more cuts must be made. A recent article in a local paper said that not passing this tax increase will result in the loss of x number jobs. This would not be necessary if all took a pay cut to allow for fellow workers to share in what funding there is. It used to be a game to see who would get the raise, it’s now not a game to actually have to cut back because the money is not there. The boom is over, the money and equity is gone and too many workers were hired then for to be paid now with the current revenue. It will work if they all take a pay cut. This will cut down on benefits costs. Should everyone’s taxes be raised in order to furnish high benefits for city workers?

Debt loads must be defined and prioritized. Water must be paid, because it is a source of revenue and a necessity. Default must be discussed.

Departments must be defined and prioritized into
a. nice to have
b. could survive without
c. necessary

Retaining those departments that bring in revenue might not be the cheapest in the long run, if ultimate social costs rise. Tax collectors never lose their jobs, I guess. It is still not obvious to me how paying more license fees, taxes and mandated insurance frees up more money to purchase inventory or spend on the open economy. Higher taxes and government fees take money out of circulation, leaving less to be spent elsewhere. The tendency of the Tucson solution set is towards higher taxes in the city, which will drive buyers elsewhere. The least mobile will be the hardest hit by higher city taxes. The net result might be less revenue. Businesses might leave Arizona if taxes go up.

As a finale, you have a huge job to do. I suggest that the bodies meet without all the hangers on. Meet among yourselves and discuss this budgetary problem the state is facing. Exclude the lobbyists, special interests, department heads and others with skin in the game. You have a huge responsibility and it is yours to handle alone.