It's fine to be among happiest states, but ...
Our view: Hiking, sunny clime go only so far when other measures lag miserably
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 12.20.2009
• Arizona ranks at the bottom of the list of states in spending for education. We are not providing our children with a decent launchpad for 21st-century careers and, by extension, we are not attracting 21st-century businesses to operate here.
• Arizona's state budget crisis is arguably the worst in the nation. Our GOP-led Legislature has been hacking away all year at a budget deficit that for the next six months amounts to about $1.6 billion — savaging education spending and social-support agencies and refusing to identify new revenue sources to help close the gap.
State Treasurer Dean Martin has warned that soon he may be forced to pay state employees and vendors with IOUs. Let's not even talk about next year's deficit.
• The recession has hit Arizona especially hard, thanks in large measure to our growth-based economy, which crashed when the housing bubble burst. The good news is that the state's unemployment improved to 8.9 percent last month, compared with 9.3 percent for October. But the rate was 6.4 percent a year ago.
Further, according to Capitol Media Services, state personal income was unchanged between the second and third quarters of this year. That compares with a 0.3 percent increase nationwide.
Let's get local now.
• According to MarketWatch's annual survey of 101 cities last week, the Tucson region was seventh-worst in jobs lost during the recession.
• The city of Tucson is facing a fiscal crisis borne of lagging sales-tax revenues that almost certainly will force layoffs among the city's 5,600 workers and cuts in services to its residents. It is likely that no one will escape the impact; and it won't just be potholes anymore. The city must close a $32 million budget gap by June 30.
So here is our point: Enjoy the beautiful weather. Enjoy the outdoors.
But demand leadership and vision from our elected officials. There is much to be done, and it will take courage to accomplish. The future of our state depends upon it.
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