By Pamela GormanMajority Whip, Arizona State Senate

Early in my career, a friend warned me about entering battle alongside a colleague, describing him as a "chocolate soldier." "Chocolate soldiers say all the right things and look formidable entering the battlefield," he explained. "Problem is that they melt in the heat." As we confront the nation's largest budget deficit in Arizona, I understand what he meant.

Today, as we find ourselves in the worst economic downturn in state history, people are worried. I'm worried too. We're faced with the reality that government has created a dependent class of people.

Like families across the state, government has to live within its means. It should be simple for those of us who believe that government has grown too big and spends too much of other people's money. Still, it's not easy to deliver the bad news to those who are dependent upon taxpayers. It's like telling Fat Albert he's got to go on a diet. No one wants to deliver the message, but deep down you know it might save Fat Albert's life. We are making difficult, but responsible choices - choices that honestly can some days break your heart. But, that's what we were elected to do.

Many of us have been very open about our conservative beliefs and we've made statements about them in public forums, on candidate questionnaires, in editorial board meetings and in our campaign brochures. We campaigned on reducing the size of government and cutting taxes. And we lamented the irresponsible expansion of government spending under Governor Janet Napolitano that has now come home to roost. Many of us took it further. We promised -- in writing -- to the people of Arizona that we would oppose any and all efforts to raise taxes.

Governor Jan Brewer, who succeeded Napolitano after she was appointed Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security earlier this year, made that same written anti-tax promise on June 10, 2006. She promised the taxpayers and all the people of the state that she would "oppose any and all efforts to increase taxes." Yet, a few weeks after being exposed to "the heat" of our budget crisis, Governor Brewer was "melting" like so many chocolate soldiers before her. She threatened to veto any budget plan that didn't include her $3 billion tax increase in her very first speech to the legislature.

A wise man once said that adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it. I believe that Governor Brewer is a person of character. Unfortunately, she may be the victim of bad counsel. Frankly, if I had advisers that would suggest I a) break my promise to the people, b) abandon my stellar record of supporting lower taxes, and 3) crush the already floundering economy with the largest tax increase in Arizona history, I'd find new advisers.

When government cuts taxes, jobs are created -- jobs that help the single mom go from unemployed to employed, jobs that help the working poor step up into the middle-class, and jobs that help the middle class start to save for retirement and their children's education. When taxes are increased, we see the opposite effect. This effect is magnified during an economic downturn, so raising taxes now is simply dangerous and misguided. And make no mistake, this tax increase is to be applied directly on Arizona working families and employers, who are the very producers that we need to pull us out of this economic malaise.

I am worried that the heat being applied by the entitlement class is melting the chocolate resolve of self-identified conservatives who are forgetting the interests of this struggling producer class. The producer class voted for an army of conservative soldiers to keep taxes down, limit the size of government and protect their individual liberty. They are counting on our conservative soldiers now, when the heat is on. Conservatives who want to see government spending cut -- rather than taxes increased -- must do more than speak up, they must stand strong. Now is no time to discover we elected an army of chocolate soldiers!

Senator Pamela Gorman represents Arizona's 6th district and is currently serving as Majority Whip. Comments can be sent to pgorman@azleg.gov.