As the dust settles on Arizona following a contentious election, the Legislature must deal with a toxic fiscal crisis in January.

The prognosis appears to be a vitriolic process of painful cuts, probable layoffs, elimination of thousands from important programs like AHCCS, reduction in local budgets, colleges, university funding, and the usual transfer of mandates from the state to broke local counties and municipalities.

This scenario is being played out all over the country, not only in Arizona, but in other states as well. The financial meltdown which began with decades of national and state governments failing to control spending, implementing costly and unnecessary programs, failing to control waste and corruption, coupled with the invented housing crisis and the failure of the regulatory oversight needed to monitor private investment firms like Goldman-Sachs and Wall Street, has brought our republic to an unprecedented financial abyss.

It is not impossible for our state, as well as the rest of the nation, to begin the slow climb out of this financial hole. However, it appears that the climb upwards will have a painful human toll on individuals, families, and businesses already experiencing continued financial hardship.

For this reason, Arizona legislators need to rise to the occasion with great wisdom and unselfish determination to work for the good of the electorate, and not for the advancement of narrow political goals.

Anytime one political party wins an election, you can be sure almost half of the voters wanted the other party to win. With this in mind, political parties often see their victory as a mandate, but the American people are very cautious about giving power to elected officials. Even a clear victory, as Obama and the Democrats experienced in 2008, does not mean all of the people will sign on to your programs, especially if they are too far reaching, unpopular, or fiscally too expensive.

As the Arizona Legislature meets to work on these issues crucial to the citizens of our state, it is hoped that the scalpel will be used in place of the cleaver where financial cuts are needed. It is hoped that some spirit of compromise and consensus will replace any hostile bipartisan bickering in the months ahead.

Our legislators need to remember the human faces behind those who are about to lose their jobs and livelihoods through layoffs. For some of these folks, financial ruin will result if another job is not found in a stagnant economy. For those cut off from medical care, more suffering. Legislators must keep these things in mind and be as creative as humanly possible before eliminating jobs and services.

We must keep our state leaders and legislators in our prayers, because the job ahead will require a combination of wisdom and compassion, and the blessing of Almighty God.

John J. Flanagan edits and publishes The Oro Valley Christian.

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