People think government's all waste, fraud and abuse... till programs get slashed

Because Arizonans want low taxes, Arizonans pay relatively little in taxes:

The state/local tax burden ranking in Arizona has dropped 24 places from 17th highest in 1977 to 41st in 2008, and the residents there now pay the tenth-lowest tax burden. Most of the change came in the wake of a property tax limitation in 1980, and the state’s ranking has changed little since. Estimated now at 8.5% of income, Arizona’s state/local tax burden percentage is below the national average of 9.7%. Arizona taxpayers pay $3,244 per capita in state and local taxes.

Unsurprisingly, Arizona now faces a severe budget crisis. Its government has sold off major buildings to raise cash. Now that government’s slashing spending, residents are realizing government is not just a pile of waste, fraud and abuse:

[T]he state took away their [rest area] toilets, and residents began to revolt.

“Why don’t they charge a quarter or something?’” said Connie Lucas, who lives in Pine, Ariz., about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from here. “There was one rest stop between here and Phoenix, and we really needed it.”

Arizona has the largest budget gap in the country when measured as a percentage of its overall budget, and the Department of Transportation was $100 million in the red last fall when it decided to close 13 of the state’s 18 highway rest stops.

But the move has unleashed a torrent of telephone calls and e-mail messages to state lawmakers, newspapers and the Department of Transportation decrying the lost toilets — one of the scores of small indignities among larger hardships that residents of embattled states face as governments scramble to shore up their finances.

Posted by James on Friday, March 05, 2010