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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008
Flying Cover

First credit where credit is due... kudos to both Governor Napolitano and the Arizona Republic for acknowledging the depths of the State of Arizona's fiscal crisis and for both realizing that something needs to get worked out now, even if only passed after the November election.

However even while the Republic gives a bit on realizing the dire situation it covers its tracks on how we got here. From today's editorial:

But the fact is that neither side even knows the extent of the deficit problem yet. As of Wednesday, the Governor's Office cited revenue data showing an estimated two-month shortfall of about $100 million. Weiers and Sen. Bob Burns, GOP chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, calculated the red ink at $180 million. It will take awhile to get some hard data.

Hard data? JLBC reported a nearly $90 million revenue shortfall for July, based on Senator Burns' press conference he must have reason to believe that we had a similar shortfall for August. In any case we'll probably know within a week. The JLBC reports are on-line, I haven't seen bleep from OSPB. Whose numbers are you going to trust?

Plus I love the sleight of hand by the Republic. The Governor's numbers come from her "Office" while Weiers and Burns' numbers are attributed directly to them, instead of to in part JLBC numbers. It makes Burns and Weiers look like they have axes to grind and numbers from thin air when Napolitano look like she is depending on expert analysis; in reality the situations are probably in reverse with the Governor pulling numbers from thin area and Burns and Weiers depending on expert analysis.

As if we needed further evidence, the local economy is sinking faster than state budget analysts had anticipated in early summer, when lawmakers and the governor were hashing out Arizona's $9.9 billion budget.

Perhaps the state's economy has slowed down even more, but I doubt there was a person down at the Capitol who honestly thought that the FY2009 budget would not have to be reworked during the fiscal year due to its overly-optimistic revenue forecasts. The only thing that has changed between now and the end of June is perhaps the time for that reworking has come sooner than expected, like less than 25% into the fiscal year.

Second, what's this implied we business with "lawmakers and the governor were hashing"? The only lawmakers the Governor hashed with were those of her own party and enough Republicans she could entice to come over. After long negotiations, talks between the Governor and the Republican majority in both houses broke down and the Governor got her budget passed on a nearly party-line vote.

In short no matter what the Republic there is no shared responsibility for how we got into the budget mess (though it will take shared effort to get out of it.) This is the Governor's budget, plain and simple, and it blew up before she could skip town. Since last fall when the size of the FY2008 deficit became clear, Governor Napolitano has continually used rosy economic forecasts to block attempts to cut the budget, believing that we could weather this temporary fiscal storm and maintain spending levels with gimmicks. She has been proven wrong as seen in the Republic's own business pages where economists are not forecasting an economic recovery until 2010, that's when we'll be working on the FY2011 budget.

According to the governor's letter Tuesday to legislative leaders, the "purpose of the (Nov. 6) meeting is to establish a framework for resolution of this deficit."

Senator Burns has been getting flack from Democrats and the media for his press coneference, with some calling it a media stunt. However do you think the Governor would have writtent hat letter if he didn't put her on the spot? That's hardly leadership on her part.