Brewer's rhetoric vs. reality | Guest opinion
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Guest opinion

Brewer's rhetoric vs. reality

By now you’ve seen the news coverage and heard the takeaways from Governor Brewer’s State of the State address on Monday. But here’s the thing: Many of the basic claims she made are just not true.

So here’s our quick and simple guide to the rhetoric versus the reality of Brewer’s most widely cited lines.

Rhetoric:  “Arizona has been saved. And, you were a part of that great mission.”

Reality: “Arizona has been named among the most poorly run states in the country by 24/7 Wall St. The financial website reviewed data on financial health, standard of living and government services for each state to determine how well each state is managed. Arizona came in 47th. Only Michigan (48th), Illinois (49th) and California (50th) ranked worse than Arizona.” [Phoenix Business Journal, 11/30/2011]

Rhetoric: “Now, an integral part of our recovery plan was the passage of Proposition 100 – the one-cent sales tax approved overwhelmingly by the voters for three years. The voters were promised it would be temporary. Many doubted that. Well, I gave my word to the voters.”

Reality: Brewer argued that the new tax would prevent deep cuts to education. [Arizona Daily Star, 5/19/2010] But then made the cuts anyway. [Capitol Media Services, 1/14/11]

Rhetoric: “Today, Arizonans and Americans are saying to Washington, D.C.: We don't like an ever-expanding government threatening our personal liberties. We don't like government living beyond its means and trying to be everything to everyone.”

Reality: The federal government gave Arizona more than $1 billion in stimulus funds. Of that, Brewer was able to spend $185 million how she wanted. [ABC15, 12/16/2010]

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Rhetoric: “We had a plan – and, it was the right plan. How do I know? Because I stand here in front of you, and proudly say … Ladies and gentlemen, Arizona now has a balanced budget! Arizona now has a positive cash balance!”

Reality: According to Republican Senate President Steve Pierce “We borrowed $1.5 billion two years ago and we have a billion dollars we owe the education rollover. We're in a deep hole. We're coming out of it but the biggest challenge is to keep from spending that money that we're ahead right now.” [ABC15, 1/9/2012]

Rhetoric: “That's my commitment to children for the next century — quality teachers — a safe environment — a setting of parents' choosing — data driven decisions and the highest of standards.”

Reality: Last year, Education Week ranked Arizona 42nd in its annual Quality Counts analysis. The rankings are based on financial resources, quality of teaching, student achievement and other key factors. [Education Week, 1/11/2011]

Rhetoric: “Our State Government is focused on the future.”

Reality: Last year, Capitol Media Services reported: “Gov. Jan Brewer wants to cut state funding for universities by 20 percent and aid to community colleges by about half to deal with a $1.1 billion deficit this coming fiscal year. Brewer also proposed today eliminating free care for about 280,000 individuals now enrolled in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, virtually all of them adults. There would be no reduction care for children, pregnant women, the aged, blind and disabled.” [Capitol Media Services, 1/14/11]

Rhetoric: “Too many Arizonans remain unemployed or underemployed. This economic downturn has been tough for them and their families. I haven’t forgotten about them. Together with all of you here, I intend to do everything in my power to help Arizonans prepare for our ever-changing economy.”

Reality: In June, the Arizona Republic reported: “While the state's unemployment rate remains stubbornly stuck above 9 percent, the safety net for out-of-work Arizonans appears to be unraveling. Already, 15,000 of the long-term unemployed are losing their weekly unemployment-benefit payments.” [Arizona Republic, 6/15/2011]

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