Brewer’s budget gambit
posted by Tom Patterson
at 28 January, 10:32 AM 0
Here we go again. Harkening back to freespending governors of the past, the so-far prudent Jan Brewer wants to juice up the revenue forecast so that she can spend more in her budget.
Most Arizonans probably don’t get that heavily involved in the arcana of budget construction. The way it works is that the budget is “balanced” when appropriations for the next fiscal year are matched by the projected income. Of course, nobody knows exactly what the income will be so, so the possibility of some chicanery is always out there.
That was one of Janet Napolitano’s favorite tricks: pretend the revenue for next year is going to unexplainably go through the roof and spend your imaginary good fortune before reality sets in.
Now Gov. Brewer once to pretend we’re going to have an increase in tax revenue of over 5% next year, when revenue growth so far this year has been less than 4%, according to Bob Rob. That would give her $260 million more to spend than the Legislature is recommending. It’s just like finding free money.
You might think that after all the heavy lifting she and the legislature did to repair the fiscal damage from the Napolitano years, she wouldn’t want to go down this road again. Yet the urge to spend other peoples money while getting the credit for it yourself is well nigh irresistible.
The real solution to the problem would be a law authorizing the Treasurer or some neutral third-party to set the revenue level for the budget. He/she would be accountable for it. The squabbling and fudging would end.
Meanwhile, why not err on the conservative side? Extra money in politics is never a problem. If nothing else, taxpayers always appreciate being able to keep more of what they earn. Deficits are just a way of making someone else pay for your stuff.
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