Be more grown-up when dealing with city budget crisis

Published by the Arizona Daily Star, Guest Opinion, 02/03/2010:

Has anyone else noticed the eerie broken-record tone of our local interest groups and news outlets regarding our budget crisis?

They almost always start with no more specific reason for their objection to a policy other than some version of the “harm to vital services” argument that gets made by everyone who doesn’t want cuts in their areas of interest. The bottom line is, with the level of cuts that must be made to balance our state budget, there is going to be “harm to vital services.” Period.

Next, they invariably try to tie economic damage to the particular cut they oppose, which is pretty hollow when the likely trade-off of not cutting will be tax increases. It’s laughable to make the case that some of these options are anything but tangentially related to the state’s economy when compared to taxes. Yes, cuts will “damage the economy” but they do so in the same way that cuts “harm vital services” – every cut affects the economy.

So, to get out of this intellectual quagmire, I would like to present a way we can measure the arguments before us. I suggest that Arizonans focus on two critical questions:

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