by Jim Nintzel
The Prop 200 campaign sent out a bulletin yesterday assuring everyone that there would be plenty of money to pay for the Public Safety First Initiative, which is estimated to cost $150 million or so over the next five years and more than $60 million a year after that.
Realtor Bill Arnold cited a report from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee that estimates that revenues will grow by 7.8 percent in fiscal year 2011.
But he didn't mention that the report includes this "Warning and Caveat: Is is responsible to base a budget on 7.8 percent estimated growth in FY ’11? Economic forecasting has limited ability to predict future, especially in unprecendented times."
Even if the prediction is right, the state is now facing a $2 billion shortfall in the current year and $3 billion shortfall next year. It won't be until 2013 that the state will reach the amount of money in income taxes that in collected in 2005 and the amount of sales taxes in collected in 2006. That's a deep hole to climb out of.
And right now, city officials are estimating that it's going to take several years before Tucson's budget stabilizes. Once it does, we won't just need money for public safety. We'll need it expenses like pothole repair and upgrading our parks.
There's no doubt that, as more money comes to city, more should be invested in public safety, just as more was invested since 2006. But locking in spending based on an uncertain hope that enough money will be there in a few years sounds like the kind of reasoning that, well, a Realtor would use to sell you a house you really can't afford.
Here's the JLBC report, which isn't nearly as hopeful as Arnold would have you believe: jlbcProjections.pdf