As a Republican member of the Arizona Legislature who has been recognized by conservative groups as a "friend of the taxpayer," I have acted decisively to help reinstate smaller government and fiscal accountability since taking office in January 2009.
Along with my colleagues in the legislature, I've worked tirelessly over the past 15 months to help our state avoid financial ruin by taking action to close a $3.2 billion budget shortfall that was created by prior legislative and gubernatorial acts, and compounded by the worst economic downturn in 70 years.
To date, I have voted to cut spending by $2.3 billion, and on May 18.
I, as a citizen and as a voter in Arizona, will support and vote "yes" for Proposition 100, a temporary, one-cent sales tax.
Furthermore, we as legislators need to display leadership and guidance on this extremely important budget question. As your representative, it is my duty and obligation to you, the people I serve, to make my "yes" vote public on Prop 100. It is your right to know where I stand on this issue.
However, to best explain my vote I must lay out how spending and population have been historically tied together in Arizona.
From 1979 to 2001, the state budget grew from $1 billion to $6.5 billion. During this 22-year period spending rose modestly, on par with population. The budget increased 7 percent a year while population more than doubled to 5.6 million residents, growing at a 3 percent annual rate.
From 2002 to 2008, the budget ballooned from $6.5 billion to $11 billion — a 70-percent increase in just six years. However, our population grew at a rate of only 16 percent during that time period, from 5.6 to 6.4 million people.
Since 2009, the legislature has taken necessary steps to bring spending back in line with population trends by making cuts of $2.3 billion. Today, our budget stands at $8.4 billion, which is in line with historical per-capita spending levels. However, revenue is projected to be $7.2 billion, leaving us with a billion-dollar shortfall.
The cuts that we have made to date have negated the years of hyper-inflated budgets that haunted this state between 2002 and 2008. Cutting beyond this level of per capita spending will go far beyond what we have traditionally spent in Arizona in decades past.
I believe that we have cut to reasonable levels, restoring traditional fiscal accountability. To go beyond this rate would venture us into uncharted waters.
Cutting programs and raising taxes is never a popular thing to do. People have been, and will be, hurt by both of these actions. However, doing both at this moment in our state history is the responsible thing to do.
I would like to know how you feel about this issue. Contact me at 520-390-9946 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Republican Vic Williams represents District 26 in the Arizona House.