That loud emptiness you didn't hear Friday, and over the weekend, came from Phoenix, where Gov. Jan Brewer approved most of a budget-balancing plan.
She vetoed school funding cuts, and a move to repeal a state property tax. Brewer didn't get the temporary sales tax increase question she wanted on the ballot.
Arizona now has a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. It uses cuts, funding delays, borrowing, federal stimulus money and more to close most of a $3 billion deficit.
It's complicated. It's fatiguing. "Is it going to solve everything? No," Brewer acknowledged.
Brewer told The Associated Press it would be "unconscionable" to repeal the property tax and give up its $250 million of annual income. She's right. Republicans disagree; they say the tax adds a burden to businesses already struggling. They're right. Funny, but in some of this it's hard to disagree with either side.
Brewer really wants to send that sales tax increase to the ballot. Republicans don't. Democrats don't, either. We don't think the voters would approve a sales tax increase. Should they be asked?
In Oro Valley last week, Treasurer Dean Martin reminded people that it would be six months, anyway, before state government saw a dime from any voter-approved sales tax hike. The state's fiscal problems are much more immediate, he argues. Martin's not a fan of a sales tax increase. Who is? But all of us have to ask what, then, to do. Arizona government spends more money than it takes in. It has what Martin calls a "spending problem."
"We need a sustainable budget," Martin said. "We talk about that in the environment. We don't talk about that in a budget."
As with any budget, the full effects of this one won't be known for weeks, even months. We'll certainly hear the rumbles when people realize the effect these decisions have on schools, local governments, social services and the like. Right now, they're digesting.
Everyone should acknowledge it's not about to get better. Next year's budgeting process? Intimidating, even from a distance.
Friday is Sept. 11, the eighth anniversary of the attacks by aircraft-hijacking terrorists on New York City, Washington and, because of the heroics of passengers, Pennsylvania and not someplace else.
September 11th — no 9/11 on these pages, for that clipped reference trivializes the events — cannot pass without some acknowledgement and observation. It's modern life's equivalent of Pearl Harbor Day.
Where did eight years go? And where have we gone?
We remain engaged in two wars that resulted from the attacks of Sept. 11. President Obama always had his eye on Afghanistan, and all these years later that country is the place of greatest U.S. bloodshed. The way out remains cloudy.
Iraq, by contrast, is less in the headlines these days. May the day come soon that Americans, and coalition allies, can leave that changed nation to its leaders.
Every year, we lament the effect of terrorist attacks on everyday living. It's most apparent at airports. You've got to give the Transportation Security Administration some credit – they've figured out systems that make air travel safer and less of a hassle. A hassle, still, but for those of us who complain about the "convenience" of air travel, try taking a covered wagon to your next destination.
The "terror" code is … well, some color, today. It's probably good that we don't know. That'll never go away. If Sept. 11 taught us anything, it's that the threats are always out there, and we ought to be wary of them.
On Sept. 11, 2,993 people — many of them police and firefighters — lost their lives. We remember them this day.