Tag Archives: budget cuts

So how’s that trickle-down working out for Arizona?

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports that Arizona Legislature’s budget analysts predict 2018 shortfall:

The Arizona Legislature’s budget analysts last Thursday predicted a budget shortfall that could top $100 million in the current and coming year as the impact of corporate tax cuts continues to overwhelm increases in sales, insurance premium and personal income tax collections.

Whaaa? You mean tax cuts don’t pay for themselves and are revenue neutral? (sarcasm).

Chief budget analyst Richard Stavneak told economists and state officials who make up the Legislature’s Finance Advisory Committee that the shortfall will hit $104 million. That’s out of an expected $10 billion in spending for the budget year that begins next July 1. A panel of state lawmakers also attended the meeting.

Excluded from that projection is $90 million in current spending that is labeled one-time but appears to be an ongoing commitment by the Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey, Stavneak said. That puts the expected shortfall next year close to $200 million if that spending isn’t cut. The revenue picture could also brighten, but signals are mixed, he said.

Phased-in corporate tax cuts enacted under former Gov. Jan Brewer in 2011 have cut more than $600 million in yearly revenue since 2014. Rep. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, said it may be time to revisit the corporate tax cuts and predicted a budget battle next year.

“It’s going to be a free-for-all. We’re back to the cutting, I don’t see any other way,” Shooter said. “It’s going to come down to who’s going to bleed the least, what’s going to be the least painful, I guess.”

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AZ Budget Solution: Grow the Economy, Don’t Starve It (video)

Arizona Senate

Arizona Senate Chambers

Governor Doug Ducey and Republican leadership in the Legislature made headlines and sparked street protests this week when they tried to ram through a starvation budget that was negotiated in secret.

The wrong-headed budget starved universities with $104 million-dollar in cuts;  it stole even more money from K-12 education with a $98 million hit this year and another $157 million hit in the next year; just for fun, it cut an additional $8-15 from TUSD; it crippled job training with $30 million in cuts; it completely defunded community colleges in Pima, Pinal, and Maricopa Counties; it cut provider rates for people who provide medical care to Medicaid/AHCCCS patients by $127 million (which would result in the loss of $588 million of federal funds). And these are just the highlights.

This severe austerity budget will do nothing to grow the economy. It will starve the economy by taking more than a billion dollars out. This means more lay-offs, more bankruptcies, more business failures, more home foreclosures, more poverty, people on on public assistance, more homelessness, more crime, more incarceration, and more people and businesses leaving our state.

When Republicans talk about budgeting, they often give folksy example of a family sitting around the kitchen table to work out the budget and decide together how they are going to tighten their belts and make ends meet. Didn’t anyone at the kitchen table ever say, “Paw, I could get another job to bring in more money”?

Earlier this year, the media speculated how Ducey could possibly keep his campaign promise of balancing the budget without raising taxes and at the same time allow hundreds of millions of dollars in unaffordable planned corporate tax cuts (passed during the Brewer era) to go forward. (Besides all that, there is the court order that said the Legislature unlawfully cut Arizona school funding and should pay back $317 million in this budget and $1.6 billion in the future.)

Earlier this year, Ducey famously said, just because we don’t have enough money, doesn’t mean we need to raise revenue. Why not? Putting money into the economy grows it; taking money out, starves it. Arizona has options besides austerity. We can raise revenue and pay for the services we want: 1) legalize marijuana; 2) establish a public bank; 3) stop implementation of unaffordable tax cuts for out-of-state corporations; 4) invest in innovation.

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Can You Live on $4.50/day? 20 Congressional Leaders, Staff Join Food Stamp Challenge

Money02-adj-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

Could you live on a $4.50/day food stamp allotment?

Rep. Jim McGovern, who has been leading the charge to stop billions of dollars of cuts to the food stamp program (SNAP), will begin a food stamp challenge tomorrow, June 13, to draw attention to the plight of the poor and hungry in America. Twenty Congressional leaders, staffers, and supporters have joined the challenge to live on $4.50/day for  one week.  Here is information from McGovern's website.

Starting on June 13th, 2013, I will be joining over 20 of my Congressional colleagues, staffers and Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz for the 2013 National Food Stamp Challenge.

I will live on $4.50 a day for food for a week to bring attention to hunger and the $20 billion in cuts SNAP millions of Americans are facing. This is a conversation we need to have, and I hope this Challenge will help us continue the dialogue. Stay tuned to this page for updates from many of the participants!

And for more on my ongoing efforts to bring attention to hunger on the House floor, visit my #EndHungerNow page.

McGovern has given a series of speeches on ending hunger in America. Watch them here. Fifty million Americans are living with food insecurity. Now is not the time to cut billions from food stamps– while adding billions to the Pentagon budget.

A list of Congressional Representatives taking the National Food Stamp Challenage is after the jump.

McGovern's challenge follows Newark Mayor (and now US Senate candidate) Cory Booker's food stamp challenge from last winter. Booker used video and social media to publicize what he bought and how difficult it is to live on $30/week. 

According to the Food Research Action Center, as of last Friday, the following House Members have committed to taking the SNAP Challenge: Lee (CA), Matsui (CA), Holmes-Norton (DC), Carney (DE), Schakowsky (IL), Duckworth (IL), McGovern (MA), Conyers (MI), Kildee (MI), Levin (MI), Ellison (MN), McCollum (MN), Nolan (MN), Watt (NC), Kuster (NH), Lujan-Grisham (NM), Crowley (NY), Rangel (NY), Fudge (OH), DeFazio (OR), Cartwright (PA), Langevin (RI), ORourke (TX), Veasey (TX), DelBene (WA), Pocan (WI). (Hmmm… no one from Arizona on the list, of course.)

Misplaced Congressional Priorities: Pork for the Pentagon but Not for Children

Pentagon-moneyby Pamela Powers Hannley

During the Bush II Era, excessive deficit spending was no big deal for Republicans. Congressional Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, John McCain, Jeff Flake, Lindsay Graham, and even current “budget hawk” Paul Ryan “spent money like drunken sailors”– particularly when the spending benefited the 1% (remember the tax cuts we couldn’t afford?) or corporations (two wars, Medicare Advantage, off-shoring jobs, more tax cuts, privatization, etc.)

But as soon as a Democratic President occupied the White House, the siren song became: We must tighten our belts and live within our means! Cut government jobs…er… spending! Cut Social Security… er… “entitlements”! 

This austerity screed intensified after the Democratic “shellacking” in 2010 when Teapublicans took control of the House of Representatives and the budget, and Senate Teapublicans began playing games with people’s lives by filibustering everything. (No wonder Congress has a 16% approval rating.)

For the past few months, Congress has been weighing the pros and cons of budget cuts and pork barrel projects. Food stamps and schools lunches are on the chopping block, while the Congress considers passing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, which authorizes $640 billion more in defense spending than the Pentagon asked for. (This action was passed by the House Armed Services committee last week; the full vote in the House of Representatives is scheduled for today– Wednesday, June 12.) More details about Pentegon pork after the jump.

Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) is calling on Americans nationwide to call their representatives and ask them to support amendments to audit and tighten the Pentagon budget (while protecting healthcare and other programs for troops and veterans), rein in the lethal drone program, and end the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that gave a green light to the past decade of endless warfare.

Even some conservatives believe that the Pentagon budget could be cut– safely. Defending America, Defending Taxpayers recently released a report detailing 100 specific recommendations for cuts to the Department of Defense (DoD) budget—the nation’s largest agency. The cuts total more than $1.8 trillion. So, why do Republican “budget hawks” want to give the Pentagon billions more than they asked for?

Increases in defense spending are particularly heinous when Congress is poised toinflict more economic pain on American citizens with cuts to education and social safety net programs. The most recent target for budget cuts are the food stamp program and school lunches– poverty-related programs included in the Farm Bill. Progressives are asking: Why not end hunger, rather than force it on more poor children? The House version of the Farm Bill cuts $20 billion from food stamps, while the Senate version cuts $4 billion.

Due to the Great Recession and the proliferation of low-wage jobs available during the “recovery”, the number of Americans using food stamps has increased 70%. More Americans than ever need the food stamp program, according to an article in In These Times.

More from In These Times

At this stage, it will likely be difficult to prevent any cuts from taking place. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who has emerged as one of the most vocal opponents of the cuts in Congress, conceded that “the odds are against us.” McGovern has co-authored an amendment to restore funding to SNAP, which has garnered the support of over 130 Democrats in the House so far.

In an interview with In These Times, McGovern blamed the Republican Party’s hostility toward social spending and general ignorance of the issues facing low-income people for the severity of the cuts. But he also expressed frustration with members of his own party for failing to speak out on the issue. “If the Democratic Party doesn’t stand with the poor and the vulnerable then I don’t know what the hell we stand for,” McGovern said.

Neither House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nor House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) have signed on to the amendment calling to restore SNAP funding.

“There’s this view that there’s no political consequence, if you cut programs to hurt poor people, then you won’t lose an election,” McGovern said. “Whereas if you overturn a tax cut or if you vote against a trade agreement or vote against the gun lobby, there’s a political consequence. I think many of my colleagues are gambling that if they vote to chip away at the safety net in this country, then nobody will notice, nobody will care, [and] that they won’t lose their election.”

While the response to SNAP cuts in Washington has so far been limited, opponents of the cuts are planning on ramping up their pressure on Congress in the coming weeks.

Twenty-six members of Congress, including McGovern, have pledged to live on a SNAP budget between June 13 and 19. They will be joined by representatives from an array of anti-poverty organizations, like the Food Research and Action Center, NeighborWorks America, the American Association of Retired Persons and religious groups.  Meanwhile, on June 17, the earliest date that the House could take up the farm bill, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) will hold a series of demonstrations across the country calling on influential Democratic members of Congress to prevent the cuts from taking place. PDA is holding actions at the district offices of Pelosi, Hoyer, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). [Emphasis added.]

Call your Congressional representative today and urge them to vote with the people and not the military industrial complex. Cut the Pentagon budget– don’t increase it by billions.

Stay tuned for information on how you can become more involved in PDA’s street heat campaign, mentioned above. There will be letter drops at Congressional officesin Arizona next week.

PDA Calls on Members to Fight Against Food Stamp Cuts

2013-02-24 16.52.57by Pamela Powers Hannley

Earlier today, I posted a story about Republicans’ draconian and racist amendment to the Farm Bill that would deny food stamp benefits for ex-convicts– for the rest of their lives. (Obviously, a great way to pump up recidivism.)

But ex-cons are not the only people that Republicans want to starve. Overall, they want to cut billions from the food stamp program (while working behind the scenes to lessen the burned of regulation on the banksters. Who elected them? I thought it was real people– not corporate persons– who elected them.)

Below is an action alert from the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). It’s time to call your elected Congressional representatives and tell them thatAusterity is Not an Option! Starving people, taking their jobs, taking their houses, reducing benefits… these austerity measures haven't worked in Europe. They won’t work here.

From PDA…

Extremists in Congress want to slash funding for Food Stamps (aka SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). We must stand up against this heartless effort. Call and write your Senators and Representative, and tell them to oppose the Farm Bill unless full funding for food stamps is restored. We must do more to end hunger, not less.

Please watch this video in which I interviewed PDA Advisory Board member, Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts about the upcoming Farm Bill–and the despicable plan to cut food stamps in a time of great hunger. Call and write your Senators and Representative, and tell them to reject the Farm Bill if it contains these hunger-causing cuts.

In the video, Rep. McGovern describes what he calls “a defining moment.” More details about food stamp cuts after the jump.

Please join with him as he leads the effort to restore $20.5 billion in cuts to the food stamp program passed by the House Agriculture Committee. These $20.5 billion in cuts in a nation with 50 million hungry people–17 million of them kids–will increase hunger in America. 

This is not acceptable to us as progressives. Increasing hunger is wrong. Punishing those who have suffered most from the recession is wrong. Taking food stamps away from millions of hungry children, veterans, disabled and other Americans is wrong. Congress must reverse the cuts and restore those funds. Together, we can help!

Support Rep. McGovern’s amendment to protect kids from hungerThey don’t have powerful lobbyists or wealthy SuperPACs. But they do have leaders of conscience like Rep. McGovern, and activists like us. Let’s stand up together against hunger!

Call and write your Senators and Representative, and tell them to oppose the Farm Bill unless food stamp funds are restored.

If you want to help PDA fight against food stamp cuts, please click here to donate online or find out how to send a check to support our efforts.

No Farm Bill should make hunger worse!

It’s fights like this that make me glad I stand with you in PDA.

Peace,

Tim Carpenter
PDA National Director

P.S.–The vote on food stamp cuts will happen quickly, so please call and email ASAP to support Rep. McGovern’s fight to restore the funds for food stamps in the Farm Bill. Also, join us for our June Educate Congress letter drops.

Brewer on Immigrant Prisoner Release: Misplaced Blame

Gov.-Jan-Brewer-adjby Pamela Powers Hannley

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is pissed off at President Obama for releasing immigration prisoners from jail. She believes that the administration is playing some sort of high school payback game to punish Arizona. Puleeezzz.

If Brewer wants to blame someone for the nationwide immigrant prisoner release, she should blame Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain who stood with all of the other Republican Senators and allowed sequestration budget cuts to move forward.

You'll note that Brewer is not complaining about the tens of thousands of jobs that will be lost in Arizona, or the $17.7 million that Arizona's primary and secondary education programs will lose, or the empoverished Arizona children who will be tossed out of Head Start. She only cares about losses to Corrections Corporation of America's bottom line