NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 23, 2009

A meme has developed that "right-wing extremists" have disproportionately benefited from public campaign financing in Arizona.  But the Goldwater Institute's Legislative Report Card shows this supposition is far from the truth.  In fact, public financing has empowered substantially more big government believers than principled proponents of limited government, says Nick Dranias, Director of the Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute.

The Institute's study grades and ranks state legislators based on their commitment to the principles of limited government as revealed by the bills they have supported.  The ranking is from an unabashed classical liberal perspective -- that the best government is the one that taxes, spends and regulates least.  An "A" grade describes a legislator that would make Barry Goldwater proud; an "F" grade describes a state legislator in the mold of Nancy Pelosi:

  • As shown in the Institute's report, publicly-financed candidates in both the State Senate and House disproportionately receive failing grades.
  • More publicly-financed candidates rank in the bottom half than in the top half.
  • And publicly-financed candidates that rank in the bottom 10 are nearly double the number of publicly-financed candidates in the top 10.

The report's broad scope and intuitive grading scale bring transparency to the legislature's work, sorting through the more than 1,200 bills, memorials and resolutions introduced this session, to help citizens objectively determine whether their elected representatives are serving the interests of liberty.

Scores for the 49th Arizona Legislature remain around the 50 percent mark, indicating a near equal amount of votes that undermined liberty as upheld it.  While legislators with the highest scores received a letter grade of A, it should be remembered that this rating represents a percentage score of 80, leaving much room for improvement.  Likewise, these scores illustrate legislators' relative commitment to liberty.  They are not absolute measures of a legislator's merit, and do not constitute any endorsement, says Dranias.

Source: Nick Dranias, "Publicly Financed Elections Bolster Big Government," Goldwater Institute, November 18, 2009.


Browse more articles on Government Issues