With union members from Arizona Pipe Trade Branch 466 in attendance, House Democrats in the Arizona State Legislature, led by Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez, unveiled a budget proposal in the Capital that “invests in all Arizonans and working families.”
Unlike the Senate Budget ideas that were leaked last week, this proposal is more aligned with Governor Doug Ducey’s spending priorities and actually puts children first.
Like the Governor’s budget, which the Minority Leader called “a good start,” this proposal recognizes the Governor’s tax conformity ideas and includes funds for:
- Increasing enrollment in KidsCare (the State Children’s Health Insurance Program).
- $204,000,000 for school facilities
- More funds for state universities and community colleges.
- A pay raise for state law enforcement and security services.
While their budget is closer to the Governor’s budget ideas than the Senate Republicans, House Democrats want to negotiate “minor adjustments” that would better move the state forward. These adjustments include:
- $200,000,000 in additional K-12 Education funding that would be targeted at replacing outdated textbooks, supplies, and technology.
- A $30,000,000 annual investment in the Housing Trust Fund. The Minority Leader did concede to a questioner that she and the other Democrats would prefer $100,000,000 for this fund but stated this was a “nice start.”
- More monies towards resources to help the State’s most vulnerable population.
- A $100,000,000 allocation to rebuild crumbling infrastructure around the state, especially in rural areas.
- Additional funds to go into the rainy day fund.
Former House Democratic Leader and head of the Arizona Center for Economic Progress David Lujan said the Democratic proposal:
“Is a good step toward finding common ground and coming up with bipartisan solutions which is what most Arizonans want. They prioritize meaningful new investments in areas that will strengthen our economy, like in public education, affordable housing, and infrastructure, and they ensure Arizona is prepared for the future by making a healthy deposit into the rainy day fund.”
Ms. Fernandez said that the Democratic proposal, worked on by their House leadership team (including Representatives Bolding, Epstein, Friese, and Salman) has been submitted to the Governor for his review. She hopes that the Governor is “willing to take the state forward” and work with the Democrats (“in the sunshine and not behind closed doors” suggested by Legislative District Nine State Representative Pamela Powers Hannley) in accomplishing this rather than going along with the Senate Republican ideas that “sell out educators, children, and our most vulnerable.”
Governor Ducey is now on the clock.