In 1982, I was beginning my first term in Arizona’s House of Representatives. After years of spending increases, our state was suffering an economic slowdown. Recovery was just around the corner.
In 1984, Ronald Reagan was elected to his second term as president of the United States, the federal government announced that it would build an orbiting space station, and the Phoenix area was one year away from receiving its first deliveries of Central Arizona Project water.
In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Yes, we are a different state today than we were a quarter century ago.
Our population has doubled from 3.06 million to 6.8 million.
Per capita income has risen 256 percent, from $13,866 in 1984 to $32,953 today.
The world may be suffering the symptoms of an under-the-weather economy, but citizens from high-tax and high-regulation states will continue to move to Arizona, just as they have for the past 25 years. They will come because of our freedom-loving attitudes, our incredible business and environmental climate, and a commitment to nurturing opportunity.
However, since we have ignored history over the past few years, we must re-live the lessons of previous cycles. Once again, after stumbling through several years of free-spending fostered by a previous administration, Arizona must bring spending back to reality.
This is why I offer a five-point plan to cure what ails us:
- Cut spending as much as feasible.
- Don’t create or expand programs.
- Stop treating one-time windfalls as permanent revenue. Even the feds must stop printing money eventually, so don’t think cash will keep flowing out of Washington.
- Modernize our tax structure. Let’s get spending under control by 2012. Then let’s renovate our tax system to foster well-paying, sustainable jobs.
- We must be responsible. The previous administration spent too much, and we must pay the bills, even if it leads to temporary tax hikes that automatically expire in three-to-four years.
Some think our political climate has changed. To those people I say, the more things change, the more we need the wisdom of some of the best political minds from the 20th century: Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater. They advocated:
- Keeping taxes reasonable.
- Limiting government intrusion.
- Encouraging opportunity.
- Creating prosperity.
Back in 1984-85, for the first time in state history, Arizona officially became a Republican state. We tended to elect conservative Republicans for decades, but many rural and blue-collar Democrats re-registered and pushed my party over the top.
When I became secretary of state in 1998, I watched a national trend away from political affiliation, which made it look like GOP domination would erode. As of April 1, 2009, our 3.1 million registered voters were split into three semi-equal groups. About 36.8 percent are Republicans, 33.8 percent registered as Democrats and 28.5 percent are not affiliated with either party.
Voters may be disenchanted with both parties, but they still love freedom, want limited government intrusion in their lives, and place their faith in the wisdom of Reagan and Goldwater.
The evidence is clear that Arizonans remain as committed as ever to limited government. This is why, come 2010, I am confident that our state will continue to follow the path blazed by Reagan and Goldwater by trusting sustainable, conservative solutions that realistically and responsibly address Arizona’s financial crisis.