Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Can the election results help save the Arizona mineral collection?

Governor Brewer herself appears to be the prime threat to the Arizona mineral collection and the historic mining artifacts, and she easily won the election. However, two propositions that she desperately needed to pass went down in defeat by over a 2 to 1 margin. Those were propositions 301 and 302.

During the campaign, the Governor claimed to have the budget balanced, but she was assuming these two propositions would pass, giving her access to nearly $500,000,000 to plug budget holes. According to the Arizona Republic (1), the real deficit facing the Governor is now actually over $1.300, 000,000.

With that kind of a major budget problem, how long can she keep hiding the millions she is funneling to the Arizona Historical Society to support her pet pork project, the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum? The money is actually hidden in plain sight. The budget of the Arizona Historical Society (administrator of the centennial museum) is a separate line item in the budget. As reported in a prior post, the Governor increased that budget by over 50 percent even as she allowed rest stops to be closed. The AHS budget is now over 6 million dollars. How long before someone figures out we don’t need to keep supporting 50 paid employees in history museums with little attendance while we lay off teachers, firemen and, and even rest stop janitors.

Sooner or later, some one has to spot the recently bloated AHS budget. Then, the Arizona Historical Society will be history. True, six million dollars is small compared to the deficit. However, the expenditure is so obviously unnecessary that it should attract attention. Undoubtedly, it is also still not the only pork left in the budget.

If the Arizona Historical Society is eliminated, as it should be, then the mineral collection will have to be assigned to another agency or department. Hopefully, the collections new home will then be at least somewhat qualified to properly preserve it.

Such a scenario will by no means preserve or bring back the existing mineral museum as is. There is no way a mineral museum is going to be funded again either in the near future. However, the collection could at least be safely stored under competent oversight until the budget crisis passes.

Reference 1: Mary Jo Pitzl, “2 programs spared, but Arizona budget hole grows”, the Arizona Republic, November 3, 2010

Note: Governor Brewer cannot run for reelection in 2014

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