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Phoenix Council refuses to limit spending

February 12, 2015

Your Phoenix City Council voted yesterday (Feb 11) to circumvent the state spending limits. This will cost Phoenix taxpayers approximately one billion dollars. (Yes that is billion with a “b”) The council did this by refusing to adhere to spending limits that were crafted by the Arizona legislature in the late 1970s, mostly under the leadership of Senator Ray Rottas. I had the good fortune to work with Senator Rottas on this issue and I believe that the limits that were placed on sub-units of governments in Arizona were very reasonable, essentially allowing governments to grow at the rate of population and inflation. In order to spend more the various governmental entities would have to get a vote of the people, at least every four years. I am sure it is no surprise to supporters of smaller government that Phoenix is one of the government units that has consistently voted every four years since 1979 to exceed the spending limits.
I have testified at several of these hearings in past years and was I frequently the only person testifying to respect the state limits. That was the case yesterday when this issue came up again. In fairness I should mention that two councilmen (Sal DiCiccio and Jim Waring) moved to substitute another limit (possibly more reasonable and less draconian) but it was voted down 7-2. So, by a similar vote of 7-2 the majority of the council essentially said “trust us” and let us make the limit whatever we decide to put in our budget.
It is worth noting that, in spite of all the financial difficulties of recent years and despite all the speeches about lack of sufficient funds, the City of Phoenix will likely spend more money in the coming year than at any time in its history.

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