Instead of dealing with the State’s pressing issues like fully funding education, helping children enroll in KidsCare, and fully addressing the looming water shortage catastrophe, most Republicans at the Arizona State Legislature want leave the capitol by passing a skinny budget (a continuation of last years fiscal plan adjusted for inflation,) along with as many anti democratic, discriminatory, and science-history denying culture bills as possible.
The reason Arizona Republicans at the Legislature can not pass a real budget is because Democratic priorities have not been addressed and there are still one or two quasi “moderate” Republicans (like retiring Paul Mr. Voucher Boyer) who wants millions more for education (Amazingly those numbers are the projected revenues public schools would have received had the courts not declared Proposition 208-Invest in Ed unconstitutional.)
Fortunately, Republicans are not even united in passing a skinny budget. That measure, as reported by AZ Blue Meanie, failed in committee earlier this week.
Reaction among Democratic circles to the failed Republican attempts to leave the Capitol by passing a skinny budget has been universal.
The Arizona Democratic Party posted on social media:
Arizona has a $5.3 billion budget surplus. We also have:
🚩completely underfunded public schools
🚩a housing crisis
🚩a water shortage
The list goes on. It’s time for our lawmakers to get to work and pass a budget that has REAL solutions for Arizona.
— Arizona Democratic Party (@azdemparty) April 20, 2022
House Democratic Leader Reginald Bolding wrote in a statement:
“Our state has incredibly difficult ongoing challenges that Arizonans want us to fix right now, most importantly our underfunded public schools, growing housing insecurity, and a social safety net stressed to its limits by the pandemic. The good news is we have a $5 billion surplus that can make a profound difference. We can’t leave our schools behind once again. Today’s failure of a so-called skinny budget – which leaves that surplus on the table and addresses none of our state’s pressing issues – should send a clear message. It’s time to get to work on a true bi-partisan budget that addresses our state’s most pressing needs while we have the resources to act, and which includes the voices of all Arizona communities. Our Democratic caucus stands ready to get to work.”
State Representative and LD 12 State Senate Candidate Mitzi Epstein (Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee) wrote:
“The budget bills that were presented to the Appropriations Committee Wednesday were profoundly inadequate to support the people of Arizona. The gesture of offering a “continuation budget” as Rep Cobb called it, illustrates the disrespect that the elected Republican legislative leaders have for Democrats. These Republican budgeteers refuse to work with Democrats to collaborate on a budget. Instead, they want only Republican votes on it, once again. That means they need every single Republican legislator to vote for it. That gives veto power to every single Republican legislator.
That makes a mess.
We could develop a budget that has meaningful investments in public schools, increased wages for caregivers, roadway improvements, and even have a bit of room for a tax cut that helps those with low and middle income.
But instead of collaborating with Democrats, the Republican budgeteers have chosen to play partisan games.
I am working with our Democratic Caucus to put real plans together. We just need our Republican colleagues to show some interest in doing what’s best for the people of Arizona.”
LD 12 State House Candidate Patty Contreras commented:
“There is a surplus of $5.3 billion available to invest in education and other needed services in Arizona. However, the state legislature is considering a “skinny budget”, that is, to keep the budget the same as it was last year after taking inflation into consideration. Some of this surplus could be spent on public education. The vast majority of Arizonans, 90%, believe that every child should have an excellent education available to them regardless of their family status or where they live. If Arizona is to keep up with growth and jobs, we need an educated and skilled workforce.
Education should not be short changed by this legislature or the governor. Quality teachers, certified and experienced, need to be paid as professionals. They have earned degrees and post-graduate degrees plus extra credentials and are deserving of salaries commensurate with their education and experience. Schools are losing teachers at an unprecedented rate and vacancies are hard to fill.
In addition, a recent report from SOSAZ indicated that education cuts have left capital spending $2.4 billion behind on buses, A/C, and building repairs.
If the state legislature does not act to increase spending on public education this session, more teachers will leave the state and classes will continue to be too large allow teachers time to adequately instruct students. Large classes effect the student’s ability to learn, the teacher’s ability to teach, and the economy’s ability to have educated and skilled labor.
It’s time for the state legislature to act and increase the budget for public education. Thousands of students, parents, and teachers are counting on the state legislature to do the right thing.”
LD 18 State House Candidate Nancy Gutierrez relayed:
“I am pleased that a “skinny budget” failed to pass. Our Legislature has a responsibility to the people of Arizona to use the over $5 billion surplus. This money should be spent to fully fund our public education system that has been systematically starved over many years. We also need money in the budget to conserve and protect our dangerously low water supply and help Arizona families with the rising food and housing costs.”
LD 18 State Senate Candidate Priya Sundareshan offered:
“The $5.3 billion state surplus should mainly be used to increase funding for public education, and any additional funds should go to infrastructure and other critical needs that serve all Arizonans. Good for the legislators, mainly Democrats, who refused to pass a budget that does not reflect these goals.”
LD 12 State House Candidate Paul Weich wrote:
“The majority is BS’ing voters AND themselves when saying they are acting responsibly by trying to pass this continuation. They have a responsibility to negotiate with everyone and not just their caucus, and they have a responsibility to use the surplus…responsibly. That means for public education, families, environmental protections (fires and climate change, anyone?), and more. It does not mean to justify a (new) flat tax or expanded school vouchers.”
David Lujan, the head of the Arizona Center for Economic Progress and former Democratic Legislative leader posted:
— AZ Economic Progress (@AzEconCenter) April 20, 2022
The fiscal condition of Arizona has taken a long term beating these last several years largely thanks to Republican enacted policies and conservative rubber stamping of denying pro people and fiscally sane taxation measures by the Ducey packed State Supreme Court.
The only reason it does not look that way in some circles is because an infusion of people moving in from other states has created the illusion of permanent record taxation revenue contributions to state coffers.
It will not last and the fiscal problems that currently exist in the Grand Canyon state will only intensify over time.
Public schools in Arizona need help.
Children need help.
People who can not afford rent and their mortgage need help.
The environment and water supply needs help.
It is time for Republicans to grasp reality and work with Democrats to pass a budget that helps people, moves the state forward, and prepares for when the economy goes into a rough period.