Improving and Increasing enrollment in Kids Care? Nah.
Investing in Pre K through University Education? No way.
Housing Assistance for the lower middle class and poor? Just a handout for the lazy.
Tax Cuts for the affluent? That is the ticket to sustainable prosperity as alternative history and disproven facts have proven time and time again.
The above sentiments are positions taken in a leaked version of a draft of some of the State Senate’s Republican Priorities.
Have these Republicans been sleeping since before the November Elections?
These budget ideas are so reactionary and out of the mainstream that other Republicans, according to the May 2, 2019 edition of Capital Notes, in the legislature like State Senator Kate Brophy McGee (who just barely won her Senate Seat in November 2018) have voiced her displeasure with the ideas presented by some of her colleagues. State House Speaker Rusty Bowers, while upset that the draft was leaked, cautioned that this proposal was just the beginning of the budget process with more work to be done.
The citizens of Arizona can only hope Bowers statement is valid because that is not what they voted for in November 2018. This draft does not even reflect Republican Governor Doug Ducey’s priorities.
Democrats are united against this proposed budget.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman commented that:
“The Senate Republicans’ preliminary budget, made available yesterday, does not do nearly enough to fund education in our state. Our schools deserve better, and I expect a much more comprehensive budget from the Legislature. With Arizona still ranking near the bottom in terms of teacher pay and per-pupil spending, we cannot afford to wait for the next legislative session to get this right. I urge GOP leadership to work across the aisle and develop a bipartisan budget that supports our teachers and students.”
Former Democratic House Leader and head of The Arizona Center for Economic Progress David Lujan stated that:
“Well, if a budget is a statement of values, that particular proposal does not reflect well upon those who put it together. It does not provide funding to ensure Kidscare would continue – thus eliminating healthcare for more than 35,000 low-income children, it provides no new meaningful investments for public schools, community colleges or universities, and it continues to significantly underfund the Housing Trust Fund which is critical to addressing our affordable housing crisis. Instead of ensuring that Arizona’s is prepared for the next economic downturn, it gives away millions of dollars in new tax cuts. Hopefully, it is a budget proposal which will quickly disappear and they start working together on a budget that addresses the needs of everyday Arizonans.”
Legislative District Nine State Representative Pamela Powers Hannley relayed that:
“Sine die 2018 was just a few minutes after midnight on May 4. One year later, the governor has signed only 164– down from more than 300 in other years. Don’t get me wrong; fewer bills getting out of the Legislature is likely good for the people! My point is that due to dissension among Legislative Republicans, their continuing feud with the governor over tax conformity, and their thin majority, we are way behind schedule on everything– most notably the budget. Both parties have factions. If you look at some floor votes– particularly on economic issues– Progressives and Libertarians often vote the same for completely different reasons. Since the Republicans are getting nowhere on their own with the budget, they should invite the Democrats to the table and let the fun begin. We could see interesting coalitions.”
Legislative District 18 State Representative Mitzi Epstein commented that:
“In the years that Gov. Ducey has been governor, he has signed 3 budgets that included draconian cuts to K12 education, especially the funds for books and buses, called, “District Additional Assistance.” Last year, he added 5.7% to the K-12 education budget and that was for partial teacher raises, in response to 50,000 parents and teachers marching at the Capitol in protest. That budget last year was not nearly enough improvement.
This year, in contrast to past years, the governor’s proposed budget has many components that are downright helpful. It is nowhere near the improvement needed for K12 education funding, but it is a nod in the right direction. We can work with it.
We are working with it. I believe that the governor’s budget is not a bad starting point. It can be modified to add funding for schools, housing, infrastructure and our vulnerable Arizonans. The result will be a budget that is a short term solution to moving Arizona forward.
The longer-term solution must be developed over the interim to provide funding for education that is:
Fair, Adequate, Sustainable, and Transparent, because our students need it fast.
I am reaching out to many colleagues and stakeholders to work on that.”
These four Democratic leaders are correct in their assessment. The people spoke in November. They wanted bipartisanship, not fragmentation; a democratic collaborative and open process not plutocratic dictating; putting people, especially children, first, not the one percent.
Some Republicans feel that they could still govern like Arizona is a “ruby” red state and ram their Koch Brother backward and oligarchy agenda through with no reprisals by the electorate. It, as an earlier piece indicated, is the last acts of a dying political movement who seeks to thwart the democratic process instead of heeding it. Democrats and sane Republicans, who know Arizona is a Purple (on its way to blue) need to band together to repel these reactionaries ideas and pass a budget that is mainstream, puts people, especially children first, and moves the state forward on a fiscally and socially prudent direction.