Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Governor Brewer's line-item vetoes and statements on the Arizona budget

The governor's office issued eight (!) releases today, seven of which pertain to the state budget:

One would think that in 2009 and in the era of LaTeX, PostScript, and word processors the governor's staff could do better than crooked scans of paper documents.

But back on topic: When Brewer took office there was quite a bit of worry that she'd be a weak governor who would rubber-stamp everything that came from the sometimes wacky legislature. If it wasn't already clear, it should be clear today that this is not the case. This morning, she called their bluff, quite effectively. There'll be no state shutdown, and they will have to more meaningfully compromise.

That having been said, some of (vetoed) the lump sum reductions of allocations to the universities were probably in order. Tuition fees are still too low, and the universities are still lobbying against the rights of their employees and spending taxpayer money on molycoddling--with a special office apiece!--organized ethnic groups. On the other hand, Brewer's statements say that these vetoes come because the legislature went beyond the compromise levels agreed to by her office, so perhaps the reductions were indeed not in order.

Also vetoed are cuts to K-12 education. Like the rest of the country, Arizona could benefit from real education reform--universal parent choice and gradual withdrawal of government from the education services "market". "Starving the beast", so to speak, isn't a means to effect that, but it can certainly deprive students who are already short-changed by being in public schools to begin with. That isn't to say that there isn't room for savings. There is, but the chances the public schools will achieve these savings in a manner that leaves kids still in the public schools at worst no worse off are slim. The incentives aren't there.

SB 1188 is 131 pages long, far too long for me to give it a thorough reading. The amount of Federal money the legislature on pp. 127-129 is counting on to balance the budget amounts to nearly a hundred dollars per Arizonan. If you spot anything interesting, bring it up on the comment thread or e-mail me backchannell.

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