Editor’s note: Judy Carlock reviews the week with snarkish aplomb.
Food for thought: When people put off buying big-ticket items, sales tax revenue plummets. To keep cash coming in, tax something people need, like food.
The state Legislature began its session this week. The first order of business was to write off anything outgoing Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano had to say in her farewell address. I hope they blew her off just for show, because ignoring her ideas on how to balance the budget would be stupid.
More than halfway through the fiscal year, the GOP Legislature proposes cuts to education and health care to deal with a budget shortfall of $1.6 billion, out of roughly $10 billion. By percentage, Arizona reportedly has the largest deficit in the country.
A lot of the budget is “protected,” one way or another. Cutting some programs, for example, endangers federal matching funds. Some spending comes from voter mandates. Short of closing half the state’s schools or furloughing all of its prisoners, the math looks pretty dim.
Republicans can do something Napolitano couldn’t: raise taxes. Do they want to? Probably not. But taxing food would put a disproportionate burden on the backs of the poor.
So they might like it.
In their opening sound bites, legislators indicated the budget would be balanced on mathematics, not ideology.
Then one of the first bills proposed cuts revenue on the basis of ideology.
Eleven lawmakers signed on for a ban of photo radar enforcement on the state’s highways. They cite intrusiveness. The Highway Patrol says it improves safety. Legislators don’t care.
Sure, this variation on speed traps helps butter bureaucrats’ bread. Wouldn’t we want to first investigate before dismissing the whole idea?
Plenty of things short of a ban could be enacted, such as forgiveness for first offenders or higher threshold speeds. At least look at the data.
Or admit that some revenue decisions will be based on ideology, not mathematics.
Nine convenience-store robberies in the past month have been attributed to Cynthia Cottrell, and in seven, her boyfriend, James A. Hill, drove the getaway car, police say.
All told they snagged a few hundred at most, and a gun found in their car was manufactured to fire only blanks, according to police.
Some of the robberies came in mid-December, and one on New Year’s Day. After that, a lull of two weeks was followed by two more on Tuesday.
Why the gap? One theory: Government checks tend to come at the beginning of the month. Another: Perhaps they made a New Year’s resolution to stay out of Quik Marts.
Those darn things are so hard to keep.
ON THE BORDER:
I’m a bleeding heart on immigration. If more people come to America, like it and spread the word, the faster the rest of the world will adopt our model for governance.
OK, kindly remove your thumb from my eye. Despite these views, I was appalled 20-odd years ago to find that it wasn’t illegal to hire an illegal immigrant. That changed with 1980s reform.
Last year, Arizona became the first state to enact its own laws. If that sounds good, remember that such action might, however unfairly, drive businesses to operate in states that don’t have that regulation.
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, who is expected to become U.S. secretary of homeland security as early as next week, now calls for stronger nationwide enforcement of the existing federal law.
Good, because it levels the playing field.
IN THE CARDS? The Arizona Cardinals are a win away from a Super Bowl, and news accounts assure me fevered fans exist.
I didn’t believe it. Then I finally retrieved my mail from the box (hey, it’s 50 feet from my door) and found a Sports Illustrated cover that says:
“Arizona is Dangerous.”
And they were talking about the Panthers matchup, not Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Hey, Arizona has been called dangerous before.
But that was the basketball team.
Judy Carlock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4608.