Budget Crisis: More Excuses

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Poor state Senator Sylvia Allen (R-Dist. 5).

Poor Arizona Legislature.

Everything’s so ... well ... complicated.

The freshman state senator who represents the bulk of Rim Country came to town recently for a Town Hall on the state budget.

You remember the state budget — still about $2 billion out of balance after four legislative special sessions. Legislative Republicans and the Republican governor have been deadlocked for what seems like forever — grabbling like a pair of fat, blind mud wrestlers in a dive bar, while the half-drunk Legislative Democrats throw peanuts and make rude comments.

The budget really hasn’t budged in months: The governor wants to avoid crippling cuts with a temporary 1-cent sales tax, while the Republican Legislative leadership wants to do the whole job with spending cuts, for fear of raising taxes in a recession. Democrats just want to make faces and avoid blame.

Allen offered any number of excuses for the unsightly, mud-splattered political spectacle.

It’s complicated.

There are no easy answers.

The voters don’t understand.

The news media doesn’t explain things.

The federal government has so many rules.

The interest groups all want to protect their programs.

Well. Yeah. No doubt.

Balancing the budget in the face of a recession is no picnic. State spending did rise too quickly in the good times, low taxes are better than high taxes and education for all and health care for the poor do cost a lot of money. Together, those two categories account for 80 percent of state spending. There was no spending restraints in the good times leading the state to the current mess.

But then, why run for office if you’re not willing to tackle those problems?

As Allen said plaintively at one point: “It’s not just this problem you can walk in and solve.”

Maybe not. But it is a budget you can just buck up and adopt.

Enough. Enough. Enough.

Make your best case — then vote for the least bad choice.

Down here in the trenches, the voters have had to do that. We’ve downsized, spent savings, changed jobs, moved in with family, borrowed from friends, gone back to school, sold the house. Hard times require hard choices. You do what you have to do.

So should the Legislature. Heck, maybe voters will even punish you at the polls — although incumbent lawmakers have perhaps the safest jobs anywhere.

No matter. That’s the Legislator’s job: Just do it.

Meantime — Allen confessed herself disappointed that only about seven people showed up for the forum. Where was everyone. This was a great opportunity for Rim Country residents to turn out and voice their opinion to their elected official.

And she has a point: Should they care if we don’t?

And maybe the miserable turnout means we don’t care — and so deserve this miserable excuse for a Legislature.

On the other hand, maybe it means lawmakers who dispense excuses in lieu of solving problems have finally convinced us. Don’t bother — they aren’t listening.

Food drive off to a good start

The Payson Area Food Drive asked for help and the community so far has responded.

From the Rotary Club, which gave the drive a check for $1,500 to the individuals who donated a dollar or two and some cans of food, the response has been great, say food drive campaign officials.

But it is only a start. The group has collected about 25 percent of its cash goal of $20,000 and about the same in food.

The need is great as many residents are suffering because of the recession. The recession may be ending for some, but for others it will continue for sometime. The number of people visiting area food banks and churches seeking help is growing. The food drive is the community’s effort to give those people some help until the economy recovers sufficiently to provide necessary jobs.

PAFD is distributing food and money evenly between the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank, Community Presbyterian Church, the Pine-Strawberry Food Bank and other churches. Mail checks to PAFD, P.O. Box 703, Payson, AZ 85547. Drop food off at Walgreens, the Payson Roundup, Rim Country Lanes, Vita Mart, Chase Bank, National Bank of Arizona, Rim Golf Club Community Association, APS, Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, Payson Florist, Macky’s Grill and Scoops.

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