Democrats in Arizona only hold nine seats of thirty in the Senate and 20 of 60 in the House. But if recent reports are to be believed, the GOP-dominated legislature is about to pass a package perhaps unanimously supported by the left.
A special session of the legislature is called for tomorrow (Friday); the crux of the call is to add an additional 20 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits for those who have been out of work. Current benefits run 79 weeks. Brewer and the Democrats have been clamoring to make it 99 weeks. (Two years is 108 weeks.) The pitch to recalcitrant Republicans, like Maj. Whip Steve Pierce, is that it won’t cost the state a dime. But it will cost the federal government many dimes and since Arizona taxpayers are also shouldering the burden of the national debt – currently about $130,000 per taxpayer – it doesn’t make sense to most Republicans (and Independents I’m betting) to spend another dime moving benefits from a year-and-a-half to almost two years.
I’m sympathetic with those who have worked tirelessly in search of a job. The economic toll on many families has been harsh. But if they are really unable to find a job after 79 weeks, what makes 99 the magic number? It’s like the minimum wage argument. At what point is it “too much”?
But more troubling are reports that House leaders want to broker a deal with the governor: 20 additional weeks of unemployment insurance for SB1041 (the bill that subsidizes new businesses at the expense of current businesses). During the regular session, the House and Senate regrettably passed this measure overwhelmingly. The Democrats voted unanimously for these subsidies (evil corporate subsidies?) and only a handful of conservatives opposed them. Thankfully, Gov. Brewer vetoed the bill and said it was unfair, with “the potential to favor new businesses over those who’ve weathered the economic storms with us.”
That’s exactly right. You don’t revive the Arizona economy by increasing taxes on those entities who have weathered the economic storm with you only to provide those extra taxes to the new kids on the block.
The legislature took the first responsible step for getting Arizona’s economy back on track. It produced a sensible budget that relied less on borrowing and gimmicks than years past. This will help long term because as Arizona creeps out of this recession, our state expenses will be more in line with revenues. The legislature also deserves credit for reducing taxes that really are an obstacle to growth: corporate income and commercial property. Granted, these reductions will not happen overnight, but overnight fixes do not exist. If they did, we’d certainly know about them and we (and other states) would have implemented them by now.
Recoveries hurt. They take time to recover from. There are no quick fixes. The last thing state lawmakers should do, however, is enact the Democrat agenda.