Each year, the Citizens Against Government Waste publishes their annual Pig Book. It identifies particularly egregious examples of money wasted by the Federal government. In 2002, CAGW teamed with the Goldwater Institute to produce the 2002 Arizona Piglet Book.
Eight years ago, the authors recognized that Arizona’s budget was a train wreck looking for a place to happen. Among the waste they identified was the then $4.5 million dollar budget for the Arizona Historical Society. Their explanation was as follows:
This program is a membership-supported, nonprofit state trust agency that gives money to preserve and maintain museums pertaining to the history of Arizona. This program can proceed without support from government, and a nonprofit foundation could accomplish the same task and collect the same dues from its members without a commitment by the state government.
So what did Governor Brewer do in 2010 as the cars from the long predicted train wreck began piling up? Why she INCREASED the Arizona Historical Budget by over 50%. Why did she do that? She wanted to Arizona Historical society to build yet another history museum. That was to be her pet project, the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum.
Prior posts on this blog explain how, as part of that plan, she pushed through a bill that transferred the Arizonan Mining and Mineral Museum to the Arizona Historical Society. They also explain the many serious problems associated with that very unfortunate bill.
The Goldwater Institute also recommended eliminating the $800,000 budget for the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources (former home of the mineral museum). Their comments on the department were as follows:
This non-regulatory agency provides technical assistance to mining companies at taxpayer expense and runs the Mining and Mineral Museum. The technical and economic development assistance provided by state government to miners amounts to corporate welfare. That function, which subsidizes a remarkably small portion of the state economy, should be funded by voluntary fees or eliminated. The museum could be privatized and run by a nonprofit foundation.
Rather than implementing the above recommendations, the Governor transferred over a half million dollars from the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources to the Arizona Historical Society. Then, she added even more money to inflate the historical society budget to its current level.
Note 1: A February statement from the Governors office says that money will be added to the historical society budget “as necessary” to enable it to operate the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum.
Note 2: This blog is not promoting restoration of the Department and Mines and Mineral Resources budget. It is promoting repeal of the bill that transferred Arizona’s irreplaceable mineral collection to an organization without the training to properly care for it.