I did not start this blog as a political soapbox to stand on regarding Arizona politics, and I'm not about to let it turn into that, either. However, it's kind of hard to ignore the news regarding Arizona's budget crisis. The more I hear about it, the more I realize what a sad state of affairs this is for Arizona.
In case you haven't turned on the TV or read a newspaper in the last couple of years, let me bring you up to speed on the subject. The State of Arizona makes money by collecting taxes from individuals, businesses, and on the sale of goods. All three sources of income have been hit hard as the home-buying frenzy of the past few years abruptly came to a halt.
A huge drop in the sale of new homes means less sales tax for the State of Arizona. Fewer home sales also means the State collects less income tax from businesses such as real estate agencies, construction companies, moving and storage companies, furniture retailers, and countless other industries that are dependent on growth.
Every year, the State of Arizona creates a budget based on how much money it expects to collect in revenue. This budget helps the State determine how much money it should provide to its dozens and dozens of programs and projects. Unfortunately, these budget predictions have been way off the past couple of years, and I don't just mean by a little bit. I mean billions of dollars off.
The legislature had planned out how much money they were going to spend on things like health care, education, roads, parks and recreation, police, and all sorts of other social and civil services. The problem is, there is not enough cash to cover everything in the budget! Imagine going to the grocery store and filling up your cart with 50 items you need and discovering at the checkout that you have drastically less money in your wallet than you thought. The bottom line is that this is very bad news for Arizona.
So now the State legislature has to decide which items can be cut from the budget and by how much. As you can imagine, this is a subject of enormous debate! All sorts of plans are being proposed to try and save the State some money in any way possible. The ideas I am hearing in the news are nothing short of alarming.
They're talking about closing half of the State Parks, half of the public libraries, and several MVD offices throughout the state. They're talking about raising existing taxes and the possibility of introducing a new tax on groceries. They're talking about cutting back on road maintenance and the number of police officers and firefighters.
It just breaks my heart to hear what might become of Arizona. I am hopeful that our State can find an answer to its financial problems without resorting to shutting down everything that makes Arizona such a great place to live and to visit.
But hey, look on the bright side! At least we are better off than California!