Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hey, Wait a Minute

The uniformly repeated 'winger comment on Arizona's budget crisis is to note that since 1993, state spending has increased more than the cumulative increase in inflation and population growth here. I've been wondering about that claim, which I assume is technically correct.

First, why is 1993 the base year? (I'm assuming it's the state's fiscal year for 1993 and not the 1993 calendar year.) I assume they're using 1993 because that's the best year possible for the comparison. The 1993 budget would have been prepared during the 1991-92 recession, but the revenues would have come in during the national economy's turnaround during the 4Q of 1992 and first half of 1993. So you'd have a very difficult budget prepared during the spring of 1992, when things looked pretty grim--and with lots of spending deferrals and such to make the budget work for FY93 in hopes that the state could make it up in FY94. So 1993 would be the very best year for this comparison; spending artificially shifted into future years due to grim revenue numbers that turned out to be too pessimistic, so things could be (and were) made up in FY94 and future years.

Second, if the complaint is that Gov. Napolitano led the state on a spending binge, why are we talking about the increase in state spending from a decade before she took office? Between 1993 and today, we've had 4 governors (counting Gov. Brewer): Symington, Hull, Napolitano, and Brewer. The great majority of that time, we've had a Republican governor with a GOP-controlled legislature. If the problem is spending during the Napolitano administration, then why aren't we seeing statistics about spending from FY03 to FY09 only, what's the point of going back to 1993? If the problems go back to 1993, then aren't the Republicans responsible for most of them?

Third, even if you assume away these conceptual difficulties, the real, human problem with the "we spent too much" argument is that these guys have to come up with not just cuts for the coming fiscal year, but they also need to tell us what we shouldn't have done over the past 16 years. What kids shouldn't have gotten mental health treatment? Which CPS cases shouldn't have been investigated? Which all-day kindergartens shouldn't have opened? Which new schools shouldn't have been built? Stop throwing about misleading statistics, and tell us who didn't deserve to be helped instead.

1 comment:

Vern D. said...

The answer to your last question is that Democrats didn't deserve to be helped. We must help Republicans, which is why Jon Kyl hates the Death Tax.

Sen. Kyl misunderstands, or more likely misrepresents where the Death Tax falls. That tax is paid by the 50 million people in this country without health insurance. Since these people are likely not Mr. Kyl's constituents, the opportunity for a teachable moment doesn't exist, save for a crowd of people with pitchforks surrounding his office.

Or maybe we could vote better.