Thursday, March 05, 2009

In Which Jan Brewer Does Something That Does Not Piss Us Off

Newsflash! Arizona's harpy-in-chief, new Governor Jan Brewer, is showing signs that she may just possibly have a brain that occasionally functions independently of the Arizona State Legislature's Republican caucus. Faced with an umpteen kazillion dollar deficit, Brewer addressed the legislature yesterday and told them they're going to have to consider a temporary tax hike to make up about a billion dollars of Arizona's looming shortfall. Her Republican colleagues responded in a disappointing, if utterly predictable, manner.
Brewer, a former state lawmaker, said it's the Legislature's job to work out the details of both the tax plan and the $1 billion in cuts. And they have no plans to let her idea move ahead.

"She proposes, we dispose. That's how it works," said Senate President Bob Burns, R-Peoria.

I suppose that's how it works when "it" means "ideological obstructionism at all costs," but right now, Arizona really really needs "it" to mean "rational legislative responses to our impending financial meltdown." And as much as I loathe Brewer's uber-conservative position on social issues, I have to give her credit for recognizing exactly how shitty the situation is and that clinging to a false Reaganesque mantra of taxcuttaxcuttaxcut will do exactly jack and squat to fix anything:

"I think we have some denial on the right that they are not, nor do they want, to accept the fact that we are in a financial crisis and that they are going to have to step up and make some tough decisions," Brewer said. "Sometimes one feels that they can just cut and cut and cut. Well, I think we know we have to do some cutting. But that's not going to solve the problem."

Of course, she's offered no details on what form a tax hike might take, and is still looking for an additional billion dollars in spending cuts--and a temporary exemption from state laws requiring funding in targeted areas. About the only tax increase Republicans might support is a jump in the sales tax, which will be opposed by Democratic legislators because it disproportionately impacts poor people. As discussed last week, the corporate property tax could be reinstated, but the Republicans will block that from happening. Maybe the only consolation here is that Brewer will get a taste of what life was like for Janet Napolitano when she had to deal with a hostile legislature day in and day out. Will there be a material consolation for Arizona? Stay tuned.

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