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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Walk and Talk with: Dean Martin

Walk and Talk with: Dean Martin

As the economy crumbles, the man with his eye on the state funds, Arizona State Treasurer Dean Martin, believes the worst may soon be behind us. 

Despite losing his wife of 13 years while she was giving birth to their son, who passed away days later, and despite being the treasurer of a state smashed to economic bits by the real estate bubble, Martin remains optimistic. 

In his address to the League of Arizona Cities and Towns at the Hilton El Conquistador Hotel last Thursday, his PowerPoint slideshow poked fun at the economic rollercoaster our state and country has been riding and explained the numbers that matter.

The Arizona Daily Wildcat got a few minutes to walk and talk about the future of the state with the numbers guru who served for six years as a Republican state senator before being elected to the office of state treasurer and, if the rumors circulating the blogs and papers are true, may make a bid for the governor’s office in 2010.

Here are some excerpts from the conversation:

DW: What do you see for the near future for Arizona’s university students?

DM: You’re going to have continued pressure from student loans. Student loans are going to continue to be difficult because of the problems in the financial market. Because of the credit freeze, it’s hard to get capital for those lending. That will be improving over the next couple of years but it’s going to be slow. It won’t be as bad, I think, this year was the worst year for student loans.

DW: What about state funding for the universities?

DM: It’s such a big hole right now, I don’t see anything different coming out of it. They’ve got three years worth of problems that they have to deal with. The economy is going to start recovering next year, but it’s going to be slow. It’s going to take three to four years to fully dig our way out of it. So it’s going to be a while before you start seeing increases to funding outside of the normal. And even then, that may not happen.

DW: What do you think is the best thing the state can do to turn our budget situation around?

DM: Rip the band-aid off quickly. We know we have to get spending in line with revenue. We know we can’t spend more than we make. Everything that they’re doing is just prolonging the inevitable. The math doesn’t go away, the math doesn’t change, the math only gets worse the more you ignore it. It’s the best thing you can do for everybody, every agency, and it’s fix it now so they can start going forward. The longer they wait, the worse it’s going to get. Every day that goes by you’re spending money that’s going to result in more cuts later. There’s no new revenues coming in. (The governor’s) tax proposal isn’t getting bigger the longer you wait. The revenues are the same and everyday you wait it’s more expensive.

DW: What budget would you vote for if you were still a senator?

DM: The key thing is we need a balanced budget. You can’t spend more than you make, it’s very simple, we need a balanced budget. Getting into all the budget discussions, that’s a whole other hour-long discussion.

DW: Have you seen any budgets that would actually be a balanced budget?

DM: The one (Gov. Brewer) has on her desk is the closest thing we’ve got right now, based on the time and effort. There’s no such thing as a perfect budget, but we need something. We need these things in place and what we’ve been getting is piecemeal and so as much as I don’t like what’s happened and where we are, we’ve got to get done with 2010 so we can start on 2011. It’s kind of funny, we don’t have a 2010 budget but on Monday, the first, all agencies had to turn in their 2011 budget. So you’re turning in your 2011 budget when you don’t even know what your 2010 budget going to be. That’s part of the problem, we need 2010 done now.

DW: Are you going to put in a bid for governor?

DM: (Laughs) No. (Laughs)

(Lady standing close by: “”I hope I can campaign for you soon.””)

DW: Is that a real no?   

DM: Um, I haven’t made any decisions. I mean, right now the plan is to run for reelection, but as you see, lots of people have been asking me for six months or more. And so I’ve been saying, ‘No no no, I have too much to do.’ But now I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ll think about it.’ But no more than that, I haven’t made any decisions.

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