On Being Arizona.

Arizona’s finger-wagging, scorpion-eating Governor and its Teapublican legislature continue to blame President Obama for federal policies they claim have nearly bankrupted the state.  They brag that the state has been able to weather the economic downturn only because of their firm, cost-cutting measures.

But based on their actions, it’s clearly untrue.  The Arizona legislature apparently has so much money that it feels comfortable throwing it away!

For example, by cutting corporate taxes 18 years in a row and approving millions in tax credits for private schools, the state has dramatically reduced revenue. At the same time, the legislature wants to force the state Board of Regents to spend more than $13 million on metal detectors and storage lockers to keep guns out of college classrooms should a misguided new gun bill be passed into law.

One legislator wants to spend more than $8 million on a special election to put a Teapublican version of redistricting maps before the voters because he doesn’t like the maps created by an Independent Redistricting Commission. The Teapublican legislature has already spent tens of thousands on legal fees in an unconstitutional attempt to remove the chair of the Independent Redistricting Commission. It has spent millions in legal fees to defend SB1070. It has spent tens of thousands for legal fees in an attempt to stop voter-approved medical marijuana. And it’s spending tens of thousands more to fight the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

And that’s just scratching the surface.

Despite a voter-approved 1 percent increase in the state sales tax intended to improve education, the Teapublican legislature refused to allocate the funds to public schools.  The legislature is treating the funds as a “surplus,” so it can further cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy.  As a result, teacher salaries are now so low that many automatically qualify for food stamps and Medicaid.  Some schools can no longer afford to perform routine building maintenance, to purchase replacement school buses, or even to buy textbooks.

Under Teapublican leadership, Arizona’s state capitol has been sold to private investors, thousands of children are being denied access to health insurance jeopardizing thousands of health care jobs throughout the state, and state parks have been closed or sold to local communities.

Instead of trying to correct these problems and improve the state’s moribund economy, Teapublicans have proposed bills that would permit hunters to use silencers and high-capacity magazines.  They’ve passed a bill allowing Bible study in public schools while banning Latino history courses.

They’re considering a new “birther” bill, an assortment of anti-union bills, a variety of anti-immigrant bills, and the usual anti-abortion bills.  And, in what appears to be the centerpiece of Teapublican legislative quackery, they’re pushing a bill that would allow employers to deny contraception for female employees unless the women can prove that the prescription is needed for medical reasons.  (I can see it now – female employees being asked to climb on their desks for a vaginal examination by their bosses.)

Of course, if many of these bills are signed into law, they will immediately be challenged in court.  As a result, the only people who are thriving in Arizona are the attorneys.