Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Rep. John Kavanagh's "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul" budget plan passed out of his House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday on a straight party line vote. Panel's OK advances budget plan Even Republican supporters complained that it's a "bad budget" that will get a makeover before being considered for a final vote.
Some Republican committee members said they were holding their noses to vote for certain elements of the plan.
Most of the eight GOP members on the committee said they voted for the bills in the spirit of moving along the debate, even though they disagreed with some of the cuts or policy shifts.
"We know right now as these bills stand, they're not passing through the House," said Rep. Vic Williams, R-Tucson.
Lawmakers approved Kavanagh's "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul" budget plan that they say would bring $570 million into state coffers, at the expense of cities, towns, counties and school districts. Kavanagh may want to rename his budget plan the "Trial Lawyers Full Employment Act" because what his plan proposes is illegal in some cases and unconstitutional in others.
The Tucson Citizen correctly notes in its editorial Legislature flouts will of voters in cuts to education:
In 2000, Arizona voters approved Proposition 301. The initiative increased the state sales tax by 0.6 cent per dollar with the money going to all levels of education.
But voters also mandated in Prop. 301 that the Legislature could not reduce education funding to offset the new revenue. The measure required that state funding to schools be increased by the rate of inflation or by 2 percent annually, whichever is lower.
For fiscal 2010, which begins July 1, the required increase in state funding for education is 2 percent. But legislators are ignoring that and planning aggressive cuts to balance a budget that is $3 billion in the red.
Should the Legislature continue to ignore the mandate, the Arizona School Boards Association says it is prepared to challenge the budget in court.
In a letter to legislative leaders, Panfilo Contreras, executive director of the association, noted that a court decision as well as an opinion by the Arizona attorney general both concluded across-the-board spending increases for education are mandated by Prop. 301.
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The School Boards Association has retained an attorney to file suit against the Legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer if a budget is passed and signed that cuts education.
The Arizona Board of Regents is also threatening a lawsuit GOP budget fixes may bring lawsuits:
Lawmakers also are taking $90 million held by the state's three universities in special funds, ranging from bookstore accounts and residence hall fees to proceeds from the sale of bonds.
Jaime Molera, lobbyist for the Arizona Board of Regents, produced a legal memo calling it "an impermissible tax on universities" that will force a lawsuit.
As reported previously, the lobbying group representing Arizona cities and towns offered a legal opinion Monday that using municipal impact fees to balance the state budget would violate the state constitution. Developer money part of budget vote
An attorney for the league prepared a legal briefing saying any use of impact fees to balance the state budget is prohibited by the Arizona Constitution on the basis they are a "land-use regulation." Taking them, therefore, would amount to "the taking of private property without just compensation."
"And any such use of funds is likely to trigger immediate legal challenges," the briefing states.
So John Kavanagh passes out of his committee an ill-conceived budget that one, does not actually balance the state budget; two, relies on assumptions about funds that may not actually exist to balance the state budget; and three, invites litigation from every governmental unit that the state intends to rob to balance its budget. The lawsuits will only be a further drain on the state's finances. And oh by the way, even Republicans agree this is a "bad budget."
How did someone so clearly incompetent become the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee?
John Kavanagh is quickly becoming the next Jeff Groscost, whose political career ended with his Alt-Fuels fiasco. Anatomy of A Debacle: Arizona's Alt-Fuels Program Let's hope that Kavanagh meets with the same fate.