Gov. Brewer’s ‘Arizona Comeback’ is the light of an oncoming train

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

In yet another "I told you so moment," I told you so. 'The Arizona Comeback,' Guv? Not so much:

By the way, that budget surplus Brewer is touting is illusory. The
package of tax cuts enacted for businesses that begin to phase in this
fiscal year will begin to erode that "surplus" quickly, as the tax cuts
were meant to maintain a structural revenue deficit so that
Tea-Publicans can make the argument that we need to cut the state budget
even more.

If the Tea-Publicans in Congress continue to pull money out of the
economy with their "austerity" automatic sequester cuts, or worse, blow
up the economy by defaulting on the federal debt ceiling, the economic
downturn which will result will quickly dissipate Governor Brewer's
illusory budget "surplus."

This week, the Arizona legislatur'e JLBC agreed with me. State
heading into financial hole within next two years

The state is headed into another financial
hole, the combination of already approved tax cuts
and required annual
spending increases.

Members of the state's Finance Advisory Committee predicted Friday that revenues will grow 3.5 percent this current fiscal year over
what they were last year. And the following year there will be another
5.3 percent increase.

But Richard Stavneak, staff director of the Joint Legislative Budget
Committee, said none of that is keeping pace with already built-in
requirements for annual spending. In fact, even the budget for the
current year is $330 million above what's coming in the door.

Stavneak said the state can survive for the next
two fiscal years because of sharp spending cuts in prior years, coupled
with leftover cash from the now-expired 1-cent surcharge on the state
sales tax.

But Staveneak said that will be gone by the 2016
budget year, with the state ending up $202 million in the red. And if
that deficit is not cured and spending proceeds apace, he figures the
red ink could hit $505 million by the 2017 budget year

Even that may be optimistic.

Especially if the Tea-Publican economic terorists in Congress actually do default on the U.S. debt in a couple of weeks. The 2008 financial crisis is going to look like a Sunday walk in the park compared to the economic catastrophe to be unleashed by a default on the U.S. debt.

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said there
is no political will among the Republicans who control the Legislature
to either increase taxes or rescind some of the already approved tax
breaks to bring the budget into balance.

At the same time, Sen. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, who
chairs the parallel Senate panel, said that trimming expenses in areas
where the state isn't obligated to spend more probably also is not an

“We've cut to the bone on everything,” he said, referring to the budgets enacted during the recession.

* * *

At least part of the problem are those built-in spending increases.

JLBC staff figures the number of students in
public schools will grow more than 1 percent, and Arizona courts have
said lawmakers cannot ignore a 2000 voter-approved mandate to boost
state aid to account for inflation.

Those two factors alone add $181 million to state
spending next year, with another $204 million on top of that the
following year and $251 million more in the 2017 budget year.

On top of that are anticipated increased
enrollments in the state's Medicaid program, as well as the Department
of Economic Security having more cases of child abuse to investigate.

On the other side of the equation are the tax cuts lawmakers already have approved which are starting to kick in.

For example, legislators agreed to cut the
corporate income tax rate, now close to 7 percent, to just 4.9 percent
Another change will allow some multi-state corporations to escape most,
if not all, of Arizona's corporate income taxes altogether if they meet
certain requirements. A third reduces the state's capital gains tax by
25 percent

Those changes alone will result in the loss of
$139 million in revenues next fiscal year alone, with another $114
million drop in the 2016 budget year and yet another $95 million
decrease in 2017.

Kavanagh, however, said budget staffers who
prepared those estimates are ignoring what he believes will be the
“dynamic” impacts of the tax cuts.

“The theory is the tax cuts will stimulate greater revenue,” he said.

Th_tinkerbell_063Oh dear God, more "magical thinking" about faith based supply-side trickle down economics, an economic theory that has been entirely disproved and discredited. To paraphrase Peter Pan, "If all of you clap your hands real hard to show that you do believe in fairies, tax revenues will grow!"

([I suspect Kanvanagh will tell me how Arizona tax revenues grew between 1992 and 2006, proving that tax cuts generate revenue. Wrong! That tax growth was almost entirely attributable to an explosive population growth, where the population of Arizona more than doubled. When you have a relatively stable population, as we do right now, those tax cuts are a drain on tax revenue, as the JLBC projects. There are numerous economic studies which demonstrate that tax cuts do not pay for themselves, and are not revenue neutral).

As to my point above that "the tax cuts
were meant to maintain a structural revenue deficit so that
Tea-Publicans can make the argument that we need to cut the state budget
even more," here is Kavanagh confirming my point:

And if those new taxes don't materialize?

“If revenues aren't taking off, we have to slow down even further,” he said.

And that, he said, means spending cuts. Kavanagh
said as far as he is concerned, reversing those tax cuts or boosting
taxes elsewhere is not on the table.

Some of that is political reality: It takes a
two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to enact new taxes or
rescind a previously approved tax cut.

Which brings me to the dead horse I have been flogging for years: we are never going to get out of this structural revenue deficit problem until the voters repeal the undemocratic Prop. 108 (1992) that requires a two-thirds super-majority vote of both legislative chambers to enact any changes in taxes. We are never going to be able to enact necessary tax reforms in Arizona as long as this undemocratic provision remains law. I challenge John Kavanagh to put a straightforward repeal of Prop. 108 on the ballot as a legislative referendum in 2014. (I'm not holding my breath). If only he cared about this critical issue as much as he does about undermining the resign-to-run constitutional provision.

Oh, and then there is this …

And there's another big shoe that could drop.

Arizona borrowed $1.4 billion during the height
of the recession just to balance its budget. Much of that came in the
form of selling off key state buildings — including the state House and
Senate — and then arranging a lease-purchase plan to acquire them back
over 20 years.

Stavneak said the $80 million annual scheduled payment is already built into the budget.

But he pointed out that these are tax-exempt
bonds. And federal regulations say if the state has a certain amount of
extra cash — which it likely will this year because of the leftover
dollars from the sales tax hike — then it is required to use those funds
to pay off some of that borrowing.

He said if the state ends up having to spend
another $150 million this year in debt repayment, which means less cash
in the bank to carry forward to future years, and deeper red ink down
the road.

That's just one way those budget balancing gimmicks come back to bite you. Don't even get me started on all of those revenue sweeps that the state has been stealing from cities and counties, stealing their "seed corn" for necessary infrastructure improvements and government services.

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4 thoughts on “Gov. Brewer’s ‘Arizona Comeback’ is the light of an oncoming train”

  1. Please cite your data sources and specify in which direction you believe their error will fall?

  2. I am glad that you are not holding your breath. I would hate to be even indirectly complicit in your suicide.

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