Arizona Has At Least $11.45 Billion In Surpluses of the Taxpayers Money it is not using.

  FY 2003 Report Home Page Flags courtesy of Robesus Inc.



The State of Arizona at the State-level has approximately $11.45 billion of the taxpayer's money it is not using, i. e. surpluses equal to $2,092 for every man, woman and child in Arizona or $8,369 for a family of 4. This does not include all the additional surpluses that exist in the school districts, cities, or counties in Arizona.

The Exhibit A below shows the results of the FY 2003 review.

What are these surpluses we refer to?

Government surpluses, as used in this report, are funds that are not required or needed for the operation of all government operations, funds, accounts, agencies, etc., directly or indirectly, for the year(s) covered by the budget which is usually one year. Theoretically, at the end of every fiscal year, governments should have little or no cash/investments on hand. But what we have found is that most governments have huge amounts of cash and investments on hand at the end of the fiscal year. And somehow these cash and investments are not being recycled back through the budget process the next year, but are being held year-after-year.

A Government Can Have a Budget Deficits/Shortfalls and Financial Surpluses At The Same Time.

This is the most deceiving topic that governments, politicians, and the news media have conveyed to the public about governmental financial matters. In realty, a government can simultaneously have a budget shortfall and a financial surplus of the taxpayers' money.

The problems are focused in four areas:

1. The budget only covers a small portion of the State's financial condition. There are a group of funds not part of the budget process. The complete list of funds and budgetary requirements are found in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). This report depicts the complete financial status of the State. The budget only covers a portion of the financial resources of the government.

A Little Background:

The CAFR usually has four categories.

Governmental Funds
Proprietary Funds
Fiduciary Funds
Component Units

Governmental Funds involve activities of the government including most basic services such as environmental resources, general government, transportation, education, health and human services, and protection of persons and property. Most of the cost of these activities are financed by taxes, fees , and federal grants.

Proprietary Funds are used when a government charges customers for the services it provides, whether to outside customers or to other agencies with the state. For example, Enterprise Funds, a component of proprietary funds, are for activities that provide goods and services to outside (non-government) customers, which includes the general public. Fees, charges for services or goods, assessments, fines, licenses, etc. are the major revenue sources.

Fiduciary Funds are activities in which the state acts as a trustee or fiduciary to hold resources for the benefit of others. These funds are pension trust funds, investment trusts, and agency funds (which are for assets held for distribution by the government as an agent for other governmental units, other organizations, or individuals).

Component Units reportedly are legally separated organizations for which the government is financially accountable. Usually fees, charges for services or goods, assessments, fines, penalties, licenses, etc. are the major revenue source.

The budget, as commonly known to the public, only involves the Governmental Funds and may not even include all of the governmental-type funds. The remainder of the Funds shown above are not part of the budget and are commonly called "off-budget" items.

2. Next year's budget consists only of next year's estimated revenues and next year's estimated expenditures. Previous years' revenues not used (spent) are normally not considered in the next year's budget, but should be. In other words, the previous years' revenues (as shown in the CAFR) are not recycled back to the budget process.

Historically, a budget consists of three parts: 1) Funds brought forward (funds not previously spent); 2) Next year's estimated revenues; and 3) Next year's estimated expenditures.

But somewhere along the way the funds brought forward category was lost. In accounting, the previous years' revenues are no longer called revenue but have been converted to Cash and Investments. Since they no longer called Revenues governments have forgotten about them to the public. They are there but not considered in the budget process, but should be.

For example, the FY 2002 Special Revenue Funds balance, not included in the budget, was $912 million. I do not know how much budget deficit the State says it had for the FY 2004 budget, but $912 million would have gone along way in having no budget deficit.

For FY 2003, the cash/investments (surpluses) in the Special Revenue Funds is $658 million. These funds should be included in the budget process.

3. The budgeted items and non-budgeted items (off budget) should be budgeted to zero (usually referred to as zero-based budgeting). In addition, the government should be on a pay-as-you-go basis, no reserves for future years. What this means is that you budget to have a zero fund balance. If you plan to spend $100 you budget for $100 with no excess or reserve allowed.

4. Budgeted expenditures should be last year's expenditures (as shown in the CAFR) with an adjustment for increase in requirements (costed out) or reductions in requirements. In most cases the CAFR expenditures are not considered in the next year's budget because the CAFR in many cases is published after next year's budget is considered and sometimes approved.

Running Surpluses is Stealing

Although taxation is legitimate, running a government surplus isn't. It represents a taking by the state, because it exceeds the government's contract with the community. It is no different than if a federal agency were to take a person's land or possessions without just compensation (an activity barred by the Fifth Amendment). Excess taxation isn't what the people bargained for.

In presuming entitlement or authority not ceded by the community, the state abrogates its moral pact with those it governs. Its power is no longer derived from the people, whose rights to liberty and property it boldly denies.

"Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery" - Calvin Coolidge

The Governor and the Legislators

The Governor and the legislators should include in the next year's budget the previous years revenues not spent as indicated by the CAFR. These were once a revenue and should still be considered revenue for budgetary purposes.

Also, they should consider a zero-balance budget concept for all budget and non-budgetary items in the CAFR including the College and Universities and the Component Units.

Budgeted expenditures (for the budget) should be last year's expenditures (from the CAFR) adjusted for demonstrated requirement changes in project, program or services. An increase in requirements should include the costs of these additional requirements. Conversely, a decrease in requirements should result in a decrease in costs associated with the decreased requirements.

The Governor and legislators should take into consideration the entire financial condition/status of the State in the budgetary process by including all of the funds in the CAFR as being a part of the budget.

This system is covered in the CAFR Budget System. This system needs to be implemented in all governments.

If the State holds the excesses/surplus, it will earn 4% to 5% on that money. If the State returns the money to the people it will receive 20% in revenue because of the increased economic activity. This is elementary economics.

Laws need to be changed.

Every thing done by governments is by law. There are laws that state this or that regarding the use of some of the funds. Man made the laws, man can change the laws. How much effort would it be to include at the end of every law "...or if considered excess or not needed for the current operation that the funds will be refunded to the taxpayers?" See how easy it is.

At one time every law had its place, but things change. The laws need to be reviewed for change to meet the current needs of the government and the people to release these funds for use/refunded.

If this were accomplished, the State would have a huge surplus to refund (rebate or tax reductions) to the taxpayers. Such a refund would create considerable wealth and jobs, increase wages, increase State and local government revenues, dramatically increase the economy, and create the greatest economic expansion in the history of the State. Everyone wins.

If you want to know the financial condition of your government(s), do not look at the budget. Get the CAFR.

The Synergistic Magic of Economics.

What happens when the government holds the $11.45 billion.

  (In Thousands) Investment Income   Per   Capita Family of 4    
  The government holds and investments the surpluses at 4.5%. 515,245 94 377  

Here is what happens when the $11.45 billion is returned to the taxpayers (the private economy).

  (In Thousands) Surplus
Per   Capita Family of 4    
  The surplus is returned to the taxpayers. 11,449,891 2,092 8,369  
  Wages are increased. 5,724,946 1,046 4,184  
  State government revenues increase. 2,299,780 420 1,681  
Local government revenues increase. 1,839,824 336 1,345  
  Federal government revenues increase. 4,599,560 840 3,362  
  Total Benefits...   4,735 18,940  

In addition, 229,9787 jobs are created. This is why it is disastrous for governments to hold excesses/reserves of the taxpayers money.

Note: The economic impact analysis is further explained at Economic Impact Analysis.

The business community suffers the most.

Before the 9-11 tragedy, President Bush and Congress provided tax rebates which averaged $427 for every American. This was to create an additional $60 billion in consumer (economic) spending, turn the economy around and create jobs for the unemployed. However, 9-11 change that.

As the above economic impact chart shows, if the State returned the $11.45 billion in surpluses to the people the State economy would grow by $4,202 per capita. That is 10 times the amount the Federal government used to stimulate the U.S. economy. Businesses net incomes could double or triple. This is elementary economics.


The Water Infrastructure Finance Authority, a Component Unit and not part of the budget, made a profit of $5.5 million. It also had reserves (cash and investments) of $145 million.

The Arizona Power Authority, a Component Unit and not part of the budget, had net expenses of $820 thousand. But it also had cash and investment reserves of $69 million. The reserves represent almost 85 years of expenses.

Regulation and Licensing, a Special Revenue Fund and part of the budget process, had net expenditures of $2.3 million . It had reserves of $77 million. Let's see, that represents about 33 years of reserves.

State Parks Development, a Special Revenue Fund and part of the budget process, had net expenditures of $4.7 million and had cash/investment reserves of $54 million. That is 12 years of reserves.

These only represent four of the 52 funds shown below that had cash and investment reserves not being used.

What to do?

Unless the budget flaws are corrected and the entire State finances are used in the budget process, the problems that created the surpluses will continue to exist. The budget deficits reported by the Governor and legislatures will be used year after year for the excuses for tax increases and/or to reduce needed services.

Just stopping a tax increase or a reduction in services will not solve the problems. The problems will come back the next year.

I have provided the details of the surpluses and explained the ways the surpluses are accumulated. The data is accurate because it comes directly from the government's own financial statement, the CAFR. You must provide the where-with-all to convince the Governor and legislatures that the surpluses exist and what should be done about it.

Exhibit A

The 2003 CAFR is located at:

Items not Included

The following items are not included in the amount of surplus shown:

-Buildings, roads, bridges, land (not for sale), and equipment.

-Deferred compensation plans for employees. These are plans in which the employee contributes to his/her retirement over and above the normal employee retirement contribution.

-Any fund that is 100% supported by donations, bequests, gifts, endowments, etc. These are not taxpayers money.

-For Colleges and Universities. All endowment and similar-type funds should not be included as surpluses. Sometimes these funds are combined with other college/university funds. We are interested in surpluses, so in these cases the total amount should not be included.

-Funds in which the revenues/contributions are 100% held for other individuals, organizations or another government.

-Funds that are required by law in which a bank, financial institution, insurance companies, etc. are required to deposit with the government a certain amount for insurance against the entity going bankrupt. These are not taxpayers' money.

-Retirement/Pension Funds - only included are 1/2 of the actuarially determined excesses, the taxpayers portion. The other 1/2 is the government employees portion.

  Review of The State of Arizona CAFR- FY 2003

CAFR Page List of Investments By Fund (In thousands) Surpluses Notes
  Governmental Funds:    
43    General 670,824  
43    Transportation & Aviation Planning Highway & Safety Fund 464,314  
43    Land Endowments Fund 1,179,700  
     Special Revenue Funds:    
150       The School Facilities Revenue Bond Proceeds 48,861  
150       Public Safety & Correctional Program 84,270  
150       Environmental Protection 77,838  
150       Healthcare and Social Services 44,100  
150       The Tobacco Tax and Healthcare 12,553  
150       The Children's Health Insurance Program 1,010  
151       Judicial & Legal Services 24,672  
151       Regulation and Licensing 76,518  
151       Game and Fish 28,378  
151       State Parks Development 54,069  
151       Business Development 54,938  
151       Educational Programs 79,197  
151       Groundwater Protection & Conservation 59,437  
151       Clean Elections System 11,748  
     Debt Service Funds:    
156       The Department of Transportation 2,366  
156       The Maricopa Regional Area Road 15,445  
156       The Certificates of Participation 18,407  
156       The School Facilities Debt Instrument 18,308  
156       The Grant Application Notes    
     Capital Projects Funds:    
162       Department of Transportation Financed 173,613  
162       Maricopa RARF Financed    
162       Grant Anticipation Notes Financed 10  
162       Certificate of Participation Financed 33,827  
  Proprietary Funds:    
48    Universities 680,722  
48    Unemployment Compensation 860,901  
48    Industrial Commission 230,460  
48    Lottery 41,962  
48    Other 19,734  
     Nonmajor Enterprise Funds:    
166       The Arizona Industries for the Blind 742  
166       The Arizona Correctional Industries 4,524  
166       The Arizona Highways Magazine 2,243  
166       The Coliseum & Exposition Center 5,955  
166       Highway Expansion & Extension Loan Program 96,034  
167       Healthcare Group of Arizona 10,633  
167       The Other Enterprise Funds 1,992  
     Internal Services:    
174       The Risk Management Fund 19,899  
174       The Transportation Equipment Fund 2,905  
174       The Employee Benefits Fund (HITF) 31,278  
174       The Technologies and Telecommunications Fund 6,972  
174       The Sick Leave Liability Fund (RASL) 2,274  
175       Motor Pool 7,683  
  Fiduciary Funds:    
     Pension Trusts (1/2 the actuarial determined surplus)    
142       Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) 9,063  
        Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPR) Unknown  
        Elected Officials' Retirement Plan (EORP) Unknown  
142       Corrections Officer Retirement Plan (CORP) 39,948  
     Investment Trusts:    
186       Central Arizona Water Conservation District 157,414  
186       Local Government Investment Pool    
186       Local Government Investment Pool - Government    
     Agency Funds:    
191       The Treasurer Custodial Securities Fund 2,928,537 1
191       The Other Treasurer Funds 18,639  
191       The Other Funds 210,894  
  Component Units:    
77    State Compensation Fund 2,549,206 2
61    University Medial Center 59,715  
61    Arizona Power Authority 69,291  
61    Water Infrastructure Finance Authority 145,411  
  Related Organizations:    
     Arizona Health Facilities Authority   3
     Arizona International Development Authority   3
     Arizona Tourism and Sports Authority   3
     Arizona Housing Finance Authority   3
  Total Surpluses… 11,449,891  
  Per Capita… 2,092  
  Family of 4… 8,369  

The explanation of The Treasurer Custodial Securities Fund is: "…consists of securities held by the State Treasurer for various State agencies as required by statute." This is huge amount of money used for the stated purpose. However, some of this fund does account for deposits of insurance companies, banks, etc. But without a break down of this fund we believe that some of the money would be surpluses. We have included the entire amount in this analysis.


Although the State usually states that the State Compensation Fund is a separate entity, the CAFR states: "The State is required by statute to review and approve the operating and capital outlay budget of the Fund."


In most other State CAFRs these funds are considered Components Units and financial data is provided.


Note: For those familiar with governmental accounting, for surpluses we basically used GFOA Balance Sheet Account Classification Codes 101, 102, 103, 151, 153, and 170.

USAF Image

This report was prepared by:
Gerald R. Klatt
Lieutenant Colonel, USAF, Retired



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