AZ Repubs between Barack and a hard place

by David Safier

A draft proposal of rules by U.S. Department of Education could force the state to undo $160 million in cuts to higher education approved in January by lawmakers if Arizona is to receive $775 million in federal stimulus aid.


Included in those rules, House Speaker Pro Tem Steve Yarbrough said, is a requirement that prevents the state from reducing the level of funding for both K-12 and higher education to below fiscal 2009 levels. He said lawmakers were told the draft rules were not expected to change significantly before being adopted.

Requiring education spending to be maintained at fiscal year 2009 levels would mean that $160 million in cuts to universities and community colleges enacted in late January to help the state close a $1.6 billion budget hole would have to be restored if the state wants to collect federal stimulus money intended for education.

Sure, cut money to education, then get the feds to replace the funds. Who could object to that?

0 responses to “AZ Repubs between Barack and a hard place

  1. Let’s be clear what the root of the problem is:

    It’s the tax cuts primarily instituted during the Fife Symington era (though taxes were cut nine years in a row so it goes beyond just his administration).

    The result is that taxes in Arizona got 1. overly dependent on sales tax (which of course consumption tax goes down in a recession faster than things like income taxes or property tax, though paradoxically taxes were cut to zero on groceries and some other necessities that are still being purchased) and 2. cut to the point where even in good years institutions (schools, universities and other governmental entities) were on a shoestring budget even in good years, so that now that it is a bad year there is no room left to cut.

    That problem was excacerbated by the supermajority amendment which makes it virtually impossible to raise them again by legislative action (though cutting them by the same mechanism was all too easy.)

    The idea as some have said that the root of the problem was ‘overspending’ is ludicrous– even before this Arizona was in the bottom five in per pupil spending on both K-12 and higher ed.

    The borrowing, bonding, rollovers, draining the rainy day fund and other budget gimmicks of the past few years only delayed the day of reckoning but we face a fundamental structural problem both with our lowest-in-the-nation tax rates and on the overall balance of our tax system that dates mainly to the 1990’s.

  2. I’ll step up and oppose putting Arizona government education spending on the federal credit card. Neither Arizona nor any other state can borrow its way to prosperity.

  3. It was my understanding that 2006 levels needed to be maintained. Even with the ’09 cuts, K-12 funding is above the 2006 level, but higher ed is not. Funding would have to be restored at the university level in order to get the funds.

  4. mindless mama

    I’m a bit confused. I thought/have heard they were told to roll back spending to the 2006 budget; whatever budget shortfall remained would be backfilled with funds specifically allocated to education in the federal stimulus package. I believe that’s why there were calls being made to the governor’s office asking her not to reduce the higher education budget any further than she already had. There was a risk of losing those funds if the cuts went too deep. Was it reset to the ’09 budget because the state sliced and diced the budget so drastically before hearing what was coming in the stimulus package? I would call Rep. Grijalva’s office because I recall him saying something about there being a dash towards drastic cuts and putting the state in the position of requesting a waiver or something like that.

    Regardless, IF those cuts have to be restored, then could one assume teachers/staff could have their jobs back before the school year is over?

    What’s the word on Brewer’s acceptance of the ENTIRE stimulus package?

    *note: please forgive typos and spelling errors. My brain is SO fried….

  5. Not sure about mixing the state & fed when it comes to state business, but it goes on in alot of areas.