Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

State GOP needs to straighten up, fly right

So after six months of doing mostly nothing, the Arizona Legislature last week called a do-over.

It agreed to pass a budget for schools and social spending that reinstates two-thirds of the $3 billion budget deficit it was supposed to have fixed.

It will spend the next few weeks (or longer, perhaps) trying to come up with a balanced budget.

There are myriad reasons for how we got here, the most prevalent of which is the circular firing squad of the state Republican Party.

Republicans are firmly in charge in Arizona. They hold the governor’s office and every executive branch office save Attorney General, and have comfortable majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

Balancing the state budget should have been easy.

It became difficult because all Republicans are not cast from the same mold.

The overarching principle of Republicanism is supposed to be small government and low taxation. Too bad too many of them don’t stick to it.

The simple fact is most of us want more government than we’re willing to pay for.

The Republicans are supposed to act like the grown-ups and tell us we can’t afford all the pretty little things. But when it came time to put their budget where their mouths were, many Republicans couldn’t do it.

Most of them signed “No new taxes” pledges that they were petrified to violate because it’s the biggest hammer a primary challenger can use to knock off an

And many of them also come from districts with big registered independent voting blocs and slim voter registration majorities over Democrats. So they chicken out when it comes to cutting government programs, especially education.

Rather than take a hatchet to the budget to make the size of government match the tax income, Republican leaders resorted to the same budget tricks they used to criticize former Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano for – stealing funds from municipalities, counties and other governments, selling state assets and borrowing.

Those are all one-time fixes that don’t solve the primary problem of Arizona having more government than tax income to pay for it and that it will be so for the foreseeable future.

Either the size of government needs to be slashed or taxes need to be raised. Or both. It’s that simple.

The Republicans’ “no tax” pledge has taken the second option off the table.

But instead of standing on principle and slashing the budget, the Republican leadership puttered around for six months and delivered a joke of a budget.

So now we’re back where we started.

If Arizona is going crawl out of this stagnant economy and start growing and prospering again, the dominant political party of the state needs to get its act

We need leaders to get through this crisis, not the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

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