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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009
The Sucker's Choice

As I was watching Horizon Friday night it occurred to me that the media and the Democrats are presenting soon-to-be Governor Brewer with a choice. First a little background.

Current Governor Janet Napolitano has released both an updated FY2009 and FY2010 budget. As expected it greatly differs from the budget options presented by the Republican Legislature. While the Legislature goes heavily on cuts, Napolitano's approach goes back to her old modus operandi of low-balling the size of the deficit, using roll overs and other budget gimmeckery, and with the added new dash of securitizing revenue-generating assets.

Horizon host Ted Simons put forth a theme I have been hearing alot of recently... that Brewer has the choice of either following one of those two options. On one hand, the "draconian" cuts of the Republican legislators (need I remind you of the low reputation of the Legislature?) or the much more moderate tone of Napolitano who happens to not only enjoy high poll numbers but was elected with a crushing electoral mandate.

Come on Jan, what are you going do? Follow the lead of the cool kids or hang out with those radical legislaive losers? You follow the losers and enact those "draconian" cuts and there will be a story every day on how they will affect little children and their puppies and kittens and we'll make sure any mention of those "draconian cuts" will be preceded by the statement that you approved of them. Oh... also once a week we'll be sure to mention that you reversed the policies of your predecssor who just happened to be one of the most popular governors in the state's history while we also remind everyone that no one elected you.

It's a sucker's choice because if Brewer does follow Napolitano's policies, not only will she become politically isolated but at best she'll get none of the credit and at worst have to make even more "draconian" cuts during 2010 as the state careens toward bankruptcy in an election year.

So here's my suggestion.... when you get sworn into office this week, use the moment of your inaguration to lay out to the people of Arizona the dire fiscal situation and explain to them that tough choices need to be made. Like it or not, Brewer will own the solution for the budget deficit from the moment she takes office so she needs to lay the rationale for her actions from the very beginning. She doesn't need to directly attack her predecessor or even use her name, the moment Napolitano resigned to take another job, the moment she left her post during one of the biggest crises to ever hit state government, it was as if she no longer existed. Take a few minutes to directly address the people of Arizona and lay out the situation.

Explain that...

We're facing one of the greatest crisis of state government in Arizona's history.

We're in the middle of multi-year fiscal drought and rather than treating the budget like fiscal recovery is just around the corner, that the best projection is for a return to the revenues of 2007 sometime around 2012.

That the State of Arizona must have a balanced budget every year, unlike the federal government, and that this necessity limits the options for dealing with the deficit.

That previous attempts to deal with the budget defcit, while done with the admirable goal in maintaining state services, can no longer continue because they put off the necessary measures in favor of short-term tactics that will cripple the state budget for years to come. Explain the consequences of financing school construction, K-12 roll-overs, and securitizing Tobacco or the Lottery. Relate the consequences of such actions in terms of personal finance, which most people can relate to. Explain that the prior attempts to balance budgets involved gimmicks like photo radar.

Explain that you will do whatever is necessary to maintain state services, but that in part due to measures taken over the past 12 months the State is facing fiscal disaster. You might want to pick up Treasurer Dean Martin's comments that we'll soon have to borrow money to keep the state agency lights on. You might want to allude that if things aren't soon fixed, even greater disaster looms.

So the question is Governor Brewer, are you going to accept the sucker's choice that the media and Democrats are offering you or are you, to mix metaphors, going to change the rules of the game?