Arizona motorists were subjected to the ultimate inconvenience when ADOT closed 13 of the 18 Arizona highway rest stops. ADOT figures it costs and average of $320,000 per year for utilities and maintenance for each rest stop. They were supposedly closed because there were insufficient funds to operate them during the financial crisis.
However, that is not true. There was enough money; it was just spent on the wrong things. Thirteen rest stops at $320,000 each is 4.16 million dollars. Where could that money have been found?
The Governor could have closed the Arizona Historical Society museums instead. If she had been exercising responsible leadership that is what she would have done. Is there a taxpayer or voter anywhere in Arizona that considers access to a historical society museum a more essential service that a rest stop? The Arizona Historical Society Budget was 4.2 million dollars at the time, exactly what was needed to keep the rest stops open.
The historical society budge was in fact scheduled for 20% per year reductions over five years due to the financial crisis. The Governor did not even make that planned cut. She restored all of their funds and then implemented a budget transfer to increase their budget by an over 50%. That transfer of funds happened while the rest stops were closed.
Why did the Governor do something to apparently irresponsible? Because she is using the Arizona Historical Society to support her pet project, the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum. That’s the one she promised, last February, would use “no public funds”. To fund her pet project, she allowed the rest stops to be closed.
That’s worse than mismanagement of public funds. That’s selfish and mean.