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Guest opinion

Arizona budget crisis fueled by a billion dollars in wasted tax money

Santa Cruz County lost track of $241,000 in equipment. Safford spent $15,000 to install outdoor stereo speakers on a downtown street. Avondale used $7 million to connect water and sewer pipelines to a professional auto racing track.

These are just a handful of the 143 examples of lavish and fraudulent government spending identified in the 2011 Arizona Piglet Book released recently by the Goldwater Institute and Citizens Against Government Waste. The Piglet Book outlines a total of $1.2 billion in unnecessary spending just in Arizona that has been paid by state and local taxpayers.

Some cases highlighted in the Piglet Book represent direct fraud by government employees caught by outside auditors, such as the missing 8,700 gallons of diesel fuel from the Creighton Elementary School District in Phoenix.

But many other items illustrate the poor judgment and misdirected priorities of Arizona governments. Despite billion-dollar budget shortfalls, the state of Arizona continues to set aside $665,000 to support an arts commission that issues grants to risqué theater productions featuring pornography and gore. Another $1.8 million will be used to keep county fairs afloat and to promote agriculture through the Department of Racing.

At the local level, the city of Tucson subsidizes Reid Zoo with more than a million dollars every year. Bullhead City has been spending rapidly on parks and recreation with a $13 million community center and swimming pool. Not to be outdone, Yuma just opened an $8.8 million aquatic center. All of these luxury items could be provided with private dollars.

To stop the widespread misuse of tax dollars, the Goldwater Institute and Citizens Against Government Waste recommend state and local governments create independent commissions made up of business leaders and nonprofit organizations to look through every nook and cranny of the budget books. The 2011 Piglet Book also recommends Arizona improve its constitutional spending limit so government spending, adjusted for inflation, cannot grow faster than the population.

Le Templar is communications director for the Goldwater Institute.

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Latest comments on this storyRead all 4 »

Mar 20, 2011, 1:19 am
-1 +0

Well Dylan?

I guess this thread is over huh?

You don’t wish to address how the fascists FRAME the question or POSE the dialogue? That, in and of itself being the lie; and I should be willing to parse that argument? On their terms? Screw that.

I haven’t spoken French regularly since my Paternal Grandmother died while she was living with us when I was 8 years old. But isn’t the literal translation of Le Templar, “anonymous cowardly propagandist”? Le Templar, Really? And you publish them under that faux moniker? No questions asked? And then have the audacity to tell me that you don’t choose sides? You publish all sides? You MORON. That’s like pissing on me from the roof and telling me there’s a warm rain.

And let’s just agree that if you continue to diminish the influence of “Government” on our lives the vacuum will be filled by corporations. No thank you, please.

Just in case you are still unduly proud of your use of Orwell to bash the use of the term fascism, I use it simply in the 2011 context of “Corporate rule”, as in “Corruption”.

Just sayin’.

I believe that the SCOTUS decision of Citizens United V. Federal Elections Commission in 2010 is tatamount to the Dred Scott decision of 1856. I am devoutly hoping that the Madison, Wisconsin protests of 100,000 plus are tatamount to Fort Sumter in 1861.

It is time to fight for what you believe in!

Again Dylan, good luck to you and yours; Slainte.

ONE LAST TIME FOR YOU SLOW LEARNERS. IF YOU CUT TAXES FOR THE LAST THIRTY YEARS; TIME AFTER TIME: IT IS NO SURPRISE THAT THERE IS NO LONGER SUFFICIENT REVENUE COMING IN TO PAY THE BILLS FOR THE STATE ( or that, God help me withstand the shame, we are the only state in the union ever to find it necessary to sell our state capitol building; the only one ever, really![google it]).

Robert Alexander Dumas

Mar 17, 2011, 11:41 pm
-1 +0

Slainte indeed!

Too bad you are so terribly wrong son. You are in a position to make a difference and yet you are consumed by fear.

If the word fascism is offensive to your sensitive ears, please forgive me, but you need to suck it up buttercup; you are witness to a fascist uprising, subsuming this once great country.

The problem you have to resolve, is that lies are not the other side of an argument, they are just fu**ing lies; and if you continue to present them as legitamate, eventually you will find yourself held accountable.

Good luck to you and yours Dylan, and Happy St. Patrick’s.

Robert Alexander Dumas

Mar 17, 2011, 10:47 pm
-0 +1


We publish viewpoints from across the spectrum, as a way to spark a healthy conversation about our community.

We’re not here to take sides. We’re here to present the truth in our reporting and offer a platform for a vital, respectful debate.

Our posting of this, or any other opinion piece, isn’t an endorsement of the view it puts forth. We publish opinion pieces from a variety of think tanks and partisan outlets from across the political map.

If you disagree with the Goldwater Institute on this or any other topic, please present your arguments. That’s why we have comments; we’d like to know what you think.

If you’d like us to consider publishing a guest opinion from you on government spending, let us know. We’d be happy to.

Calling people fascists isn’t the greatest way to have a conversation. The Goldwater Institute is surely right-wing, but calling them fascists isn’t correct. If they were fascists, they’d be in favor of businesses being supported by the state and more government involvement in the economy. Instead, they argue fairly consistently against the private sector receiving government money.

It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.

Yet underneath all this mess there does lie a kind of buried meaning. To begin with, it is clear that there are very great differences, some of them easy to point out and not easy to explain away, between the régimes called Fascist and those called democratic. Secondly, if ‘Fascist’ means ‘in sympathy with Hitler’, some of the accusations I have listed above are obviously very much more justified than others. Thirdly, even the people who recklessly fling the word ‘Fascist’ in every direction attach at any rate an emotional significance to it. By ‘Fascism’ they mean, roughly speaking, something cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal and anti-working-class. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.

But Fascism is also a political and economic system. Why, then, cannot we have a clear and generally accepted definition of it? Alas! we shall not get one — not yet, anyway. To say why would take too long, but basically it is because it is impossible to define Fascism satisfactorily without making admissions which neither the Fascists themselves, nor the Conservatives, nor Socialists of any colour, are willing to make. All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.

— George Orwell, “What is Fascism?”

If Goldwater are so very wrong, surely their arguments would be a slam dunk to refute. Why not take another shot?

You could begin by reminding everyone that parks and recreation (and thus the zoo) are included as a core function of government in Tucson’s City Charter. ; )


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