by David Safier
AZ Republicans are well known for balancing the budget on the backs of children. Starting with a near-bottom education funding per child in the country, they cut 21% more over the past few years — the highest cuts in the nation, naturally. Funding went back up a bit recently. Now it's only a 17% cut because the courts forced them to put back some of the money they were under legal obligation to include to account for inflation (and of course, they're fighting the ruling).
Now Rep John Kavanagh wants to protect children on the backs of children. He proposes taking 25% from First Things First which funds the Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Board and give it to CPS to help it take care of its 6,000 case backlog and other problems. That comes to $45 million a year.
How nice of him to be generous with funds from a program Republicans love to hate. They tried to sweep funds from First Things First in 2009. The AZ Supreme Court nixed the move unanimously. Then they tried to repeal First Things First funding by ballot measure in 2010, only to have it voted down 70%-30%.
Here's an idea, Republicans. Stop starving the budget. Create some reasonable tax hikes on people and businesses that can afford it (taxpayers are shouldering a larger portion of taxes now, with businesses, including out-of-state corporations, paying less) and create a budget that gives our children what responsible adults are always supposed to give children: a helping hand.
Maybe CPS should consider taking funding for children away from the legislature and put it in more responsible hands.