On Thursday, March 19, 2020, the Arizona State Senate passed on a 27 to 3 vote, a skinny fiscal year 2021 budget with an additional $50 million in funding towards helping people get through the Coronavirus Crisis.
The State Legislature unanimously passed a $55 million Anti Coronavirus appropriations measure last week.
State House Republicans, under the leadership of Speaker Russell Bowers, inexplicably decided to take a different course, refusing to vote on the Senate-approved budget with the additional $50 million in Anti Coronavirus measures.
According to reporting by the Associated Press (AP,) speculation centered around whether Speaker Bowers’s reasoning for not calling the vote had to do with not having the votes of the majority of his own party to support the Senate bill.
Despite not having most of their ideas and proposed amendments on helping people on the Coronavirus adopted or even heard in some cases, Democrats in the State House have now voiced support, individually and in unison on social media, for the Senate measure.
Today, all 29 members of the Arizona State House Democratic delegation sent a signed letter to Speaker Bowers, imploring him and his Republican colleagues to vote with them on the Senate budget with the new Coronavirus funding.
The most vital portions of the letter contained the below passage:
“The House Democratic caucus strongly recommends we join forces, cross the aisle, and vote yes on the Senate budget bills that appropriate 50 million to the Crisis Contingency and Safety Net Fund. A unanimous vote in support of the bipartisan Senate budget speaks louder than any words spoken in our chamber.”
“The $50 million is to be used at the governor’s discretion to mitigate the economic fall-out of the COVID-19 crisis for Arizonans. The fund will prevent evictions and foreclosures, provide services for the homeless, assist small businesses, and pay for food bank operations. Allocating the necessary resources to the agencies to help Arizonans through this crisis, with transparency and accountability, is a non-partisan issue we can all support. We also fully understand and expect that we will have many more issues to address as the days go by.”
“We respectfully ask that when the House reconvenes on Monday, March 23, 2020, that we pass the Senate budget bills with unanimous votes from both caucuses. We, the undersigned, are committed to providing yes votes for these important budget bills. We hope every member of your caucus is as well.”
The complete text of the letter can be accessed below.
With lives and economic stability at stake, it is time for Speaker Bowers to put the concept of passing legislation with the support of the majority of the majority on the shelf.
If this Republican party can vote for state monies to go to out of state private schools in the voucher program, it could appropriate funds to help Arizonans in Arizona get through the Coronavirus crisis.
It is time for Russell Bowers to put the state and its citizens over party, step up to the plate and call for a vote to pass the additional $55 million to combat the Coronavirus.
Republicans should also realize that they will need to come back into session and appropriate more funds to attack the Coronavirus because $105 million is nowhere near enough even with the assistance the Federal government provides to solve the socio-economic issues that will arise from this public health crisis.
The Democrats already know this. It is time for the Republicans to face reality as well.
Update: The Arizona State House, on a 59 to 1 vote passed the Senate budget with the extra $50 million in Coronavirus funding.