Mesa Mayor Scott Smith is in Washington DC at a national League of Cities conference. During a panel, he criticized the Arizona Legislature, stating that "We're having a contest with California to see which state government is the most dysfunctional." The off-hand joke proved, almost immediately, to be true.
Just hours after his statement, his position was validated as the latest legislative budget agreement stalled in the Arizona Senate falling one vote short of passage. You'll recall, that the budget talks stalled earlier this year after the budget was held hostage in the Senate by a few votes.
Senator Vershoor, who represents a part of Mesa and Gilbert, decided not to show up, not because of the nearly $300 million in proposed cuts, but because of "other policy shifts the Legislature was making in its special session."
In the end, Mayor Smith is right. Our legislative system is now so disfunctional, that even when everyone agrees that cuts need to be made, one or two legislators can hold the entire system hostage for their own interests. Months ago, we asked the legislature to follow Mesa's lead and offer a blend of cuts and the opportunity to raise revenue to fix the problem.
Obviously, that didn't happen, and now cuts are the only thing on the menu. However, these cuts are now being held hostage because of other issues. How does the problem get fixed? These cuts are difficult, but it is clear that they are necessary. Now, the question remains, can the legislature put aside their partisan nature and their idealogy to do what is right, or do they allow the state to continue to flounder.
Mesa has blazed a path directed towards recovery. It would be wise for the state to do the same.