My new home state of Arizona elected a new governor, a chap named Doug Ducey (No, all right? No, I can’t resist calling him Douchey. I’m not proud of it. I’m not happy about it. BUT I CAN’T HELP MYSELF!), who took office just last week, and yesterday gave his very first State of the State address. (Can we please not call it that? “State of the Union” has a nice, official ring to it; “State of the State” sounds like a bad joke. Maybe an indie band that’s trying too hard to be hip. And the new Republican governor of a state full of retirees and snowbirds [People who flock here in the winter to escape the snow.] is definitely not hip.)
He started off by saying that he believed that a new and innovative perspective was needed in order to solve the problems of this state. (Problem one: a $1 billion budget deficit. Problem two: a government and an educational system that are so at odds that the government refused to pay $317 million owed to the schools, based on their own laws, because they didn’t want to pay the schools the money; they are now being forced to do it by the courts, and are still dragging their heels. At the same time, they passed a law banning ethnic studies classes in Arizona public schools — claiming it was intended to reduce the budget shortfalls in schools [One would think that coughing up the $317 million would go some way to filling that hole; probably more so than would ending the courses in Mexican-American studies and African-American studies in Arizona high schools. Oh: Ducey also stated that his administration would go after deadbeat dads. You know, guys who won’t pay money they legally owe for the care of their children. You can’t buy this kind of material, which is why I simply have to get into at least some light political blogging. I mean, come on. I’m only human. And liberal. And a smartass. And really off topic.] and the teachers sued the government for infringement of free speech. Problem three: the newly elected governor, the former CEO of Coldstone Creamery, was backed by the Koch brothers. But hey, let’s not be cynical; maybe that won’t be a problem. Go on. What did Governor Ducey see as the solution to all of these problems? You know, the innovative, nothing-like-the-tired-old-political-thinking perspective?) First of all, he absolutely refused to even consider contemplating a discussion of the possibility that one might peradventure raise a tax or two. He seemed very certain about that. He brought up the various points that could be laid out in favor of tax increases — something about a $1 billion deficit and a $317 million bad debt; and maybe some talk of rolling back some tax “reforms” (read: tax breaks”) passed by the last legislature, which are just now taking effect. All of these thoughts were annihilated by the bon mot: “Not on my watch!” Which I swear I’ve heard before once or twice (per election cycle for the last 25 years or so.)
So all right, good, the Republican Koch-brother-backed governor has the innovative perspective that tax increases are bad. His next plan? Eliminate that absurdity, the DC lobbyist who represents the state of Arizona. Actually, this one I am in agreement with, but what bothered me about the argument is that the former CEO of Coldstone Creamery, backed by the Koch Brothers, acted like the very existence of a lobbyist was not only incomprehensible, but offensive. I find his outrage and confusion dubious. But sure, let’s cut the bureaucracy some. What will we do with those savings? Apply it to that $1 billion? Or maybe the $317 million?
Nope: we’re going to create a new bureaucratic office. This one is going to look for new places to save money (I thought that was the governor’s job. Don’t you propose the budget? Or maybe it’s the legislature’s job since they pass it. Then again, apparently neither of you can add. Sure, hire a new guy.) He is also going to “shine a light” on corruption wherever he finds it, using the shiny new badge the governor will issue him (Presumably as a reflector.). So yeah: careful scrutiny of government spending somehow yielding enough new money to balance a budget badly bloated with tax breaks? (I swear that alliteration was unintentional. I only realized it halfway through, and then I just couldn’t stop.) Claim that the vanishing money isn’t going to corporations, but rather is being lost to government waste and corruption (Again: coming from the dude backed by the Koch brothers, who put large amounts of dark money into his campaign, I somehow don’t feel that “ironic” is a strong enough term.) which can be ended by — government appointees answering to elected government officials? Somehow that sounds familiar, too.
It all sounds familiar. The business of government is jobs and economic growth (not ensuring the wellbeing of their constituents; not obeying the will of the people; not even to protect the inalienable rights that is the sole purpose for which government is instituted, according to the Declaration of Independence.), and way to do that is trickle-down tax cuts and the rapid elimination of any and all regulatory system in place. Small businesses (Like Coldstone Creamery or the Koch brothers) need to be raised above God almighty as the source of all good things here in America. (My favorite part of this speech element was the statement that Ducey dictated a moratorium on regulations for the executive branch. Uh — aren’t you the executive branch? Couldn’t you just, y’know, not do the stuff you don’t like? Without the official memo ordering you to do what you want?) Schools can be fixed with yet another test. The answer to any other education problem is school choice — now, in this state that already has too many charter schools, and is already an anti-union “right to work” state (And as a teacher in one of those charter schools, I may have something to say about how well that system works. Some other time.), the problem is apparently that the best charter schools have waiting lists, with the strong implication that those waiting lists are really smokescreens used to keep out the poor and unwanted students, against the will of their hard-working, tax-paying, God-fearing, Republican-voting parents, and by cracky, Doug Ducey will put a stop to that kind of nonsense! The key to good education is parent choice! Don’t you see? Parents would choose the best school! And then all the kids could go to the best school! PROBLEM SOLVED!
All of Arizona’s problems will be solved. All we have to do is — the same things that Republicans always claim will work, which never, ever work.