Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Parsing Brewer’s State of the State speech

Once you extract all of Gov. Jan Brewer’s cliches, rah rahisms and life-is-tough-but-we’re-tougher malarkey, here’s what her State of the State speech she gave today really says:

This is your fault, Legislature (and you, too, Napolitano):

She says she wasn’t here the past five years when state spending nearly doubled. So it’s the Legislature’s fault that the state is in this fiscal pickle, but, by golly, if we all do what’s right, we’ll get it fixed. And it will take more than saying “the system worked,” which is obviously Brewer’s way of taking a shot at former Gov. Janet Napolitano without actually mentioning her name.

We owe it to all Arizonans who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan (and all past American wars) to solve the fiscal crisis

Um, OK.

We can’t cut our way out of this, we need a tax increase

She’s sticking to her proposal from last March, which the Legislature rejected at least three times, for a 1 percent increase to the state sales tax.

And to make sure it won’t happen again, we need a constitutional cap on state spending

Good luck with this, because it has disaster written all over it. The best way for states not to get into fiscal pickles is for Legislatures to have maximum freedom to cut spending or raise taxes as circumstances dictate. But that offends losing constituencies over the decades who have either gotten the voters to mandate spending for specific causes or to make increasing taxes nearly impossible. As a result, as our state’s economy spiraled into the toilet, the Legislature was mostly powerless to do anything about it. Creating a spending cap is a knee-jerk reaction to an economic crisis that occurs, oh, maybe every 70 years or so. A spending cap will only make it impossible for future Legislatures to meet the needs of a growing population. We need the Legislature to be nimble and flexible so that it can quickly adjust spending and taxation in economic storms, not more rigidity handicapping its responses.

If you don’t like my ideas, then come up with your own

This is her way of sticking it to Sen. NO, more commonly known as Sen. Ron Gould, who is credited (or discredited?) with being the lone holdout vote (other than all of the Democrats) last year on the tax increase and budget reform voter referral bill. Essentially, if the state continues to do nothing and the fiscal crisis gets worse, she’s laying the blame at the feet of the Legislature.

Federal health care reform will hurt Arizona

She’s making the claim that the current healthcare reform bills will cost Arizona billions it doesn’t have and urges the state’s federal congressional delegation to vote against it. In other words, Arizona can’t afford to give the poor and the uninsured health insurance, so no one else in the country should get it either. She also said she intends to join a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of health care reform and that she’ll file it herself if Democratic Attorney General Terry Goddard, who is running against her for governor, refuses to.

Secure the border and the feds need to pay for incarcerated illegal immigrants

Nothing new here. Napolitano said the same thing two years ago.

Jobs, jobs, jobs

New businesses and industries adding jobs to the state will help solve the fiscal problem and a more diverse economy will help make Arizona more economically bullet proof. She’s creating a Jobs Cabinet (more bureaucracy when the state is cutting jobs and state workers’ pay?) to study how to create more jobs and using $10 million in stimulus funds for a jobs training program. More than a quarter million Arizonans -  257,000 – lost their jobs in the past 18 months. If all of them applied for jobs training, that $10 million would work out to about $38 per trainee. This $10 million is a drop in the bucket and is being done so that she can claim when out on the stump for governor this year that she tried to do something to help the poor jobless blighters without actually doing anything to help them. She also said she wants to make sure the F-35 training base is established at Luke Air Force Base, and related units in Tucson and Yuma. The plane won’t be fully deployed until 2014. Not sure how jobs created four years from now help us this year, but on behalf of all those who may still be living in Arizona in four years: Amen, sister.

Education is important

Who knew? She wants to let experts teach what they know without going through the rigamarole of getting a teaching degree or actually learning how to teach children and other liberalisms. She also wants better parents (don’t we all? Not sure how to make better parents but wishing for them never hurts) and to give them the right to send their children to any school of their choice, including private schools. Which is another way of saying she wants parents to be able to use public money to give their children religious educations. She thinks the state’s school labels, such as performing and under performing, are too complicated so she wants to change them to A, B, C D or F. OK, not sure how that makes bad schools better but, whatever. And finally, education in the state will get better if we tell failing kids they’re failing and hold them back until they’re able to pass to the next level (That aughta solve the drop out problem). All of these are feel-good measures that will do little or nothing to improve education in Arizona. Sounds good on the stump, though, especially when you’ve got a tough Republican primary to get through.

Government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem

She wants to create a commission that will determine which government services can be privatized (how about the new jobs cabinet?) and which can be made more efficient. If we just get rid of the waste in government, everything will be fine. Haven’t state Republicans been looking for the waste in government for decades? Find any yet?

There is no such thing as free health care, poor people must be made to pay for the health care they can’t afford

She wants voters to repeal Prop. 204, which increased AHCCCS eligibility and was supposed to be paid for through a tobacco tax. But not enough smokers are doing their part to pay for it, so the rest of us are through the general fund. It’s costing the state $1 billion a year. She wants the $1 billion back. One of the reasons that AHCCCS enrollment is through the roof is because hundreds of thousands of Arizonans are out of work and qualifying for AHCCCS.

Government can’t afford to help poor people, so we need some volunteers who will

This proposal speaks for itself.

All in all, it’s perhaps the worst State of the State address I’ve ever heard. But then, I’ve only heard the past 15. Napolitano’s vanity speech last year was my all-time stinker but Jan’s clueless rambling today supplants that one.

Is it November yet?

Search site | Terms of service