Education cuts unavoidable

Published by the East Valley Tribune, Letters to the Editor, 05/07/2009:

I am sick of the spineless opinion writers of this state. It’s amazing these people get paid to simply repeat each other.

Regarding the budget issues in particular, they all list the reasons why education is beneficial and our legislators are fools. Then, almost invariably they acknowledge that, “Costs must be cut,” before moving into the most noncommittal, intellectually vapid, waste-of-space writing you will ever read. Ninety-five percent of the opinion page commentaries I have read in the past few months are some combination of cut “unnecessary expenses” out of state government and “trim the fat.” Make state government a “lean machine.” And don’t forget that we must close “tax loopholes.” Finally, they say it is hard but it can be done if our state lawmakers would simply be smart enough and stop taking the easy way.

Here’s the reality, state revenue dropped almost 10 percent last year with sharper decreases this year and projected for next. Of the $8.4 billion total in 2008, $5.5 billion was appropriated to education. So right now, two thirds of the state budget is spent on education and we are facing a $2.93 billion shortfall.

Here’s where you have to actually have some courage, editorial writers of Arizona. Where do you find $3 billion without touching education? “Trimming the fat” doesn’t get it done and you are lying to yourselves and the Arizona public when you continue to say it will. So what do you cut first? Health care for kids and the poor? How about benefits for the unemployed? What about the police? I know we only spent $63 million on public safety last year (.006 percent of the budget) but we can probably do without that.

Not generalities, evasiveness, doublespeak or pandering, but where exactly do you make up a 20 to 30 percent deficit without affecting (as painful and unattractive as it is) the place where we spend 65 percent of our money. I want to hear someone have the courage to do that or I want to stop hearing from them at all.


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