The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

87° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Secretary of State visits UA

Will Ferguson
Will Ferguson/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett spoke to the University of Arizona College Republicans on Tuesday evening in the Kiva room of the Student Union Memorial Center. His speech focused on the state’s budget situation.

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett demystified the state budget for members of the College Republicans on Tuesday.

Bennett gave a presentation sorting and tracking the budget by its category of spending and revenue source to about 40 students. The College Republicans brought him to campus as one of its weekly speakers.

Bennett displayed the budget visually by stacking tissue boxes, representing $1 billion each, labeled with categories such as higher education, health care, and prisons and courts.

The presentation showed the three largest areas of spending: the K-12 school system, higher education, and health and welfare. Bennett then charted the state’s general fund by revenue; spending, rainy day fund and cash balance from 2007 to 2010.

“”If the Feds owe us money and don’t have enough, they send us what they owe us and print more or borrow,”” Bennett said. “”We can’t do that at the state level.””

State spending has exceeded revenue since 2008, Bennett said.

“”When building the ’08 budget, which would be in the spring of ’07, the economy started to slow down,”” Bennett said. “”The Department of Revenue calls and says,

‘We probably won’t reach that $9.6 billion (in the budget proposal).'””

Economic conditions only worsened, he said.

“”By the time they collected revenue in ’08, the recession was even worse than they imagined and came in at $8.8 billion,”” Bennett said.

The budget shortfalls resulted in cuts to the three areas receiving the most spending, including K-12 and higher education.

“”Now where would you cut $700 million?”” he asked. “”Not very many of the legislatures in either party wanted to cut education.””

Bennett said the same patterns of overspending have continued through 2010, when spending was $9.6 billion and revenue was $6.4 billion. He said an increase in taxes, borrowing money and federal stimulus funds have helped reduce the deficit.

Bennett also offered suggestions to improve the budget.

“”I don’t want to just ruin your night,”” he said.

Bennett first proposed to cut spending.

“”The federal stimulus money comes with a lot of strings,”” he said. “”The main string is that the state can’t cut money spending below the levels in 2006.””

Arizona spent $8.3 billion from its general fund in 2006, Bennett said.

“”Can we live on what we lived on in 2006?”” he asked. “”I think we can. I think lots of families and small businesses would love to have what they did in 2006.””

A cut in spending may challenge areas of government that have grown, Bennett said.

“”The long-term solution is getting the economy growing again,”” Bennett said. “”We think we’ve bottomed out and are on the upswing, but we’re not going to upswing very quickly.””

Members of the College Republicans said they were excited to have Bennett at their meeting.

“”I was pretty star-struck,”” said history freshman Brooke Boegemann. “”I know a lot of people here know him on a first-name basis, but I was like, ‘Wow.'””

Boegemann said the visual aspect of the presentation helped her understand the budget.

“”I had no idea how bad things were and how the money’s divided,”” she said.

Electrical engineering sophomore C.J. Cummings said Bennett had valuable suggestions to improve the state budget.

“”It’s pretty awesome,”” Cummings said. “”It’s always good to meet people in government who are doing good stuff for people.””

More to Discover
Activate Search