By Pat Nolan |
Governor Hobbs has proposed a budget that is a radical’s dream. It increases funding for a laundry list of pet programs of the radical left, while at the same time cutting programs that are supported by the vast majority of Arizonans. The Hobbs budget expands funding for illegal immigrants and increases taxpayer funding of abortions. At the same time, Hobbs would kill the expansion of our popular parental school choice program and defund the Border Strike Force.
House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci describes the Hobbs budget: “Attacking school choice, peddling state-funded abortions, and incentivizing illegal immigration in Arizona are all non-starters and, frankly, something you’d expect to see proposed by a politician in California, not Arizona.”
In response to Hobbs’ radical budget, Republicans passed a responsible, “baseline budget” which would continue state spending at last year’s budget levels, with adjustments to education and health care programs to account for inflation. When asked if Hobbs would reject the baseline budget Rep. Biasiucci responded, “If she does that, it’s party politics. This is everything we need to make sure that schools don’t shut down, make sure government stays open, make sure all our essential services stay open while we figure out what we need to do with the rest of the money.” Unfortunately, Hobbs vetoed the legislature’s reasonable budget. She is playing a game of chicken, threatening a government shutdown.
If Republicans stay united, the taxpayers will be protected from the free-spending Democrats. Given the one-vote margin in each house, we can’t afford to lose a single Republican vote. To protect us from Hobbs’ costly budget, it is essential that Republicans stick together.
I have heard disturbing reports that some Republicans are quietly signaling they are willing to cut a deal with the Democrats behind the backs of their leadership. That would severely weaken the bargaining position of Republicans as they negotiate for smaller government. More important, it would betray their constituents who voted for them based on their promises to limit the growth of state government.
Why on earth would Republicans be willing to cave to the Hobbs budget? There are a couple of possibilities. They could trade their votes for a pet project. Or they could be self-promoters with a messianic complex seeking acclaim from the liberal press as “rising above the partisan bickering.”
Believe it or not, it could happen here in Arizona. Around the country and in Congress, turncoat Republicans have made side deals to expand government spending. And though it seems odd, these quislings frequently represent “safe” Republican districts. Senator Romney comes to mind, and he is not alone.
In California, back when Jerry Brown was governor, a Republican representing the most Republican district in the state voted for the bloated budget after she had promised to oppose it. When asked why she flipped, she blithely replied that she got a new library for UC Irvine. Another Republican sold out for even less—Willie Brown promised him an office with a wet bar in it. Judas at least got thirty pieces of silver. As sure as night follows day, the press heaped praise on both of them for their “courage” in avoiding a budget impasse. But in truth, they voted against the interests of their constituents.
To avoid such a betrayal from happening here in Arizona, conservatives must press their representatives for a firm commitment that they won’t cut a side deal on the budget. We must lock in those commitments now and shut down any side deals before negotiations start in earnest.
My State Senator is Ken Bennett, and my representatives are Quang Nguyen and Selena Bliss. LD 1 is the most Republican district in the state. Conservatives shouldn’t have to worry about them keeping faith with their promises to the voters, but as President Reagan told us, “Trust but verify.”
Therefore, I am asking all three for a firm commitment that they will only vote for a budget that is supported by the rest of their Republican colleagues. The great conservative Senator Everett Dirksen famously said, “When I fell the heat, I see the light.” And I hope conservatives in all Republican districts will turn up the heat, so Republicans stay united to protect the wallets of the taxpayers.
Otherwise, it will be every legislator for themselves, and they’ll cut the hog fat. And we the taxpayers will be the hog.
Pat Nolan is the Director Emeritus of the Nolan Center for Justice at the American Conservative Union, and lives in Prescott.