The people have spoken.
If nothing else, this year proved what millions of Americans have been saying all along: Washington, D.C. is broken. And now – with a businessman in the White House and a governor in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building – we finally have an opportunity to drain the swamp.
So today, as the governor of Arizona, I’m proud to applaud our state legislators for passing an “Article V resolution” to limit the scope and jurisdiction of the federal government and finally impose fiscal restraints on the tax-and-spenders in Washington.
Article Five of the United States Constitution states that, when two-thirds of state legislatures resolve to do so, they may call together a “convention of states” to discuss (and even officially propose) changes to the way things are done in Washington. Think of it as the CEO stepping in to bring order to an office run amok. Passing this resolution has added Arizona to the growing list of states that have applied for such a convention, making it clear that, when the federal government won’t willingly listen to the people, the people will make them listen.
I’m currently in my third year as governor, and I’m all too aware of the unfortunate reality that, for far too long, our state’s hands have been tied by federal bureaucracy. Drugs and human smuggling along the border. Unfair regulations. Out-of-control government spending. They just haven’t listened. I am more than eager to join with other states, hand-in-hand, to throw out the red tape and clean out the cobwebs, especially in areas that are best left to state and local governments.
One of those areas: Balancing the budget.
Washington could learn a lot from the states about getting their finances in order. In Arizona, we took a $1 billion budget shortfall and turned it into a positive structural balance in two quick years. We did it by tightening our belts, prioritizing our expenses, and acknowledging that we have to live within our means like everyone else.
We got rid of taxpayer-funded lobbyists; consolidated the state plane fleet; paid down debts, which allowed us to save money by refinancing our loans; and streamlined agencies so that they operate more efficiently, ensuring each cent from taxpayers goes further. In short, we trimmed the fat first and made difficult choices second – and only when necessary.
Arizona did what families across our country do every day when they balance their checkbooks: Basic arithmetic. You can’t spend more than you make.
The federal government has taken the opposite approach. For eight years, the administration ignored our overspending crisis, set the building on fire whenever responsible lawmakers mentioned the word “deficits,” and pretended like the federal bureaucracy is a 7-ounce filet mignon with no fat to be cut.
Now, the national debt is approaching $20 trillion – a staggering and entirely unacceptable figure. It is reckless behavior that proves how urgently Washington’s culture of negligence needs to be addressed by states that have gotten things done.
And there are other issues that could be addressed, from federal term limits to judicial reform.
A number of successful governors, whose hard work has done wonders for their respective states, have expressed support for passing an Article V resolution. That list includes Governors Greg Abbott of Texas, Jeb Bush of Florida, John Kasich of Ohio, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and many others. It also includes members of Congress, like Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Marco Rubio of Florida.
These are elected leaders with an array of political beliefs and from very different parts of the country who all agree on one important thing: States deserve a seat at the table.
Civic engagement is absolutely vital to our nation. It’s why the first bill I signed after taking office was the American Civics Bill to ensure that all students in Arizona know the who, what, when, where, and why about how our great nation came to be – and have the intellect, interest, and opportunity to participate in the public policy process.
That’s what this resolution means to me.
Its passage this week means that our state will continue to do what we’ve always done: Take the lead and show the nation exactly what Arizona’s trailblazing spirit looks like by taking it straight to Washington, D.C.
Doug Ducey is in his third year as Arizona governor
The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.