‘Skinny Budget’ Scam Dies In Committee; Budget Stalemate Continues

Update to Arizona GQP Legislative Budget: Let The Games Begin. Tjat was quick, game over before it even began.

The Arizona Mirror reports, House GOP ‘skinny’ budget proposal shot down in committee:

A $13 billion dollar budget, sold by Republican lawmakers as a continuation of last year’s budget while the legislature debates how to spend its current $5.3 billion dollar surplus, was promptly shot down in its first hearing in a House Appropriations Committee.

Two Republican lawmakers joined the panel’s Democrats to vote against the so-called “skinny budget” plan, which Chairwoman Regina Cobb said was a response to what she saw as a lack of movement on creating a budget.

She framed the rejected proposal as an attempt to keep spending stable for agencies and programs already operating with government funds. But panel members criticized it as falling short of meeting the needs of Arizonans.

“There are so many needs within our state, and with $5.3 billion (in surplus), there’s a lot we can do,” Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, said. “I think that we have a responsibility to do more than pass a continuation budget.”

Udall was joined by fellow Republican [fake GQP elector and insurrectionist] Rep. Jake Hoffman in voting down the package of budget bills, all of which failed on 6-7 votes.

Cobb chastised Hoffman, Udall and Democrats for not being able to move past their “egos” and stymying the budget process.

“Because you didn’t get what you wanted, you voted this way,” she said as the hearing ended. “That’s ego. And that’s what kept us from moving forward.”

It’s all on you, you craptactular chairwoman. You suck at your job, so you want to blame others for your own gross incompetence.

Udall, who is seeking nomination for Superintendent of Public Instruction, told the Arizona Mirror after the hearing that a future budget lobbying for her vote should include increased spending in special education, special education transportation, and student improvement. 

“School improvement is my top priority, trying to make sure that we improve academic outcomes for our students,” she said.

[Fake GQP elector and insurrectionist] Hoffman opposed the spending plan for the opposite reason: The “skinny budget” spent too much. He said he was skeptical that no new bills with extra spending would be passed later, and said his vote was contingent on a commitment that wouldn’t happen, which he didn’t receive. [And he never will.]

“Government is spending like crazy. We have a $5.3 billion dollar surplus. That doesn’t mean that we’re doing a great job. That means that we’re overtaxing the people that we represent,” he said.

The surplus is from federal Covid relief payments to the state which have not been fully appropriated because Republicans want to steal the money for Gov. Ducey’s tax cut for wealthy Republican camaign contributors, and an economy which is recovering faster than state economists had originally predicited from the Covid recession because of the “Biden Boom” economy. This fucking moron doesn’t have a clue of what he is talking about. Republicans know absolutely nothing about economics.

The bulk of the state’s tax revenues come from sales taxes, and legislative budget analysts have said for months that the surplus is largely being fueled by unexpected growth in consumer sales as Arizonans make purchases that were delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Huge problems, but no solutions

The vote to reject the budget bills came after lawmakers heard testimony that the spending proposal failed to meet the needs of the state.

Brenden Foland, a lobbyist for the Arizona Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, noted that refusing to increase school funding when there are surplus dollars available is a missed opportunity to address real issues in classrooms. Arizona is consistently ranked at or near the bottom in per-pupil spending, and Foland said that funding is needed for a host of issues, including increasing teacher salaries to alleviate a growing shortage, mental health resources for students and opportunity weight funding for schools with high percentages of low-income populations. 

“This money could be used to make a real difference for our students,” he said.

This Budget Actually Makes Deeper Curts To Education Funding

Rep. Kelli Butler, D-Paradise Valley, expressed concern over Arizona Department of Education budget cuts the bill could introduce. It not only makes a new cut of $21.9 million, but because it continues last year’s funding formula that was based on pandemic enrollment numbers, schools would also be unable to recoup the $266 million lost last year

“Are you suggesting that we fund ghost students?” Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, asked sharply.

Says the guy who wants to privatize public education by enacting and expanded vouchers bill to accomplish this by diverting public tax dollars to private and parochial charter schools. This explains his animosity towards public education. 16 years of this fool in the Arizona legislature is long enough. Whatever happened to term limits? Kick him to the curb.

Students are returning, Butler replied, but the new budget doesn’t acknowledge that — and schools will be left scrambling.

Cobb said that would be resolved in future budget years, once enrollment rises. [You mean like this coming school year in 2022-23 that you are supposed to be funding?]

Likewise, maintaining existing spending on environmental programs was inadequate, said Sandy Barr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon chapter. She said the proposed budget doesn’t support the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality or state efforts on climate change or water quality and monitoring. Most worryingly, Barr said ADEQ’s funding request to resolve deficiencies found by a recent audit, which include arsenic and uranium standards in water, wasn’t included in the proposal.

“This is really no way to care for our state or the kind of legacy to leave for future generations,” she said.

Bowers: GOP may need to seek Dem support

Leadership in the House said that ironing out a budget proposal that will earn approval from legislators is a daunting task, especially where bipartisan support is concerned.

House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding said Democrats are ready to negotiate, but that putting together a barebones effort isn’t on the table.

“The $5 billion dollars needs to be invested in Arizona,” he said.

The housing crisis and infrastructure needs are paramount, and the surplus dollars can be spent helping alleviate rising homelessness and repair aging roads, Bolding said.

House Speaker Rusty Bowers told reporters after the vote that his party’s priorities include water, border security and changes to last year’s tax cut package. A special session might be on the horizon, depending on how well the rest of this session accommodates those priorities, he said.

Bowers said the “skinny budget” was an attempt by members who were interested in passing budget cuts to gain approval for a slimmed down version, and that its failure meant a new iteration would only get more expensive and likely require bipartisan support.

“My job is to get a budget. We can either do it with (just) Republicans — but I don’t have any to spare,” he said. “That’s the preferred way just so that we can try to keep costs down.”

GQP authoritarianism – no interest in bipartisan consensus building. This disenfranchises half of the citizens of Arizona who are represented by Democrats. Isn’t this what Republicans constantly whine about at the federal government level?

Republicans hold one-vote majorities in both the House and the Senate, and GOP leaders in the Senate are facing similar challenges in passing a budget that relies solely on Republican votes.

The House’s attempt to pass a “skinny budget” was prompted by Republican Sen. Paul Boyer’s demand that lawmakers add $900 million to K-12 funding. Only by doing so, he said, would he support a GOP effort to repeal-and-replace last year’s massive income tax cuts, which would negate a planned referendum on the tax cuts in November.

Howard Fischer adds, “Skinny” budget plan runs aground as Arizona is awash in cash:

It’s not just the Democrats and some Republican lawmakers who want more spending. The Republican governor made it clear Wednesday he was not interested in signing a spending plan in his last year in office that simply keeps things the way they are.

“Nobody’s talked to me about a skinny budget,’’ Gov. Doug Ducey told Capitol Media Services. “We have a $5.2 billion surplus. And we have real needs right now, including our border, wildfires that are happening across the state and the Arizona state water commission,” he said.

“I presented the budget that I wanted the week after the State of the State” speech he gave in January, he said. “And I still want that budget,’’ which proposes $14.25 billion in spending.

[Fake GQP elector and insurrectionist] Hoffman, by holding out his vote, and preventing the measure from advancing to the full House, may have effectively dealt himself out of future negotiations.

“We offered an opportunity for the cheapest budget we can get,’’ House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, told Capitol Media Services after the Wednesday vote. “And so, we’ll just have to go by ear now and see what we can come up with.’’

Rep. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman, who chairs the Appropriations Committee, said doing nothing is not an option. She pointed out that the Arizona Constitution gives the Legislature just one mandatory duty: adopt a spending plan for the next fiscal year [by July 1st].

If there is not a final budget approved by the House and Senate and signed by Ducey by July 1, state agencies shut down.

Cobb said Wednesday’s vote gave her some insight into what has to happen next — meaning, starting again with what was in the baseline budget and then putting in “what we need to put in.”

What Cobb means is legislator’s pet policy bills in order to buy off their votes on the budget. But the Arizona Supreme Court ruled last year that this GQP practice is unconstitutional. Arizona high court explains why it tossed budget bills:

The Arizona Supreme Court explained why in November it quickly affirmed a lower court ruling throwing out parts of three budget bills passed last year and invalidating one entire bill that was part of the budget package.

[It] took the high court less than two hours after it heard arguments on Nov. 2 to agree with the lower court that three budget bills packed with a conservative wish list of policy items violated the constitution’s provision that the substance of legislation must be clearly expressed in bill titles. The court also found that a fourth bill making up the budget package violated both the title rule and one that says bills must cover but a single subject.

Provisions in the three bills where only the title rule was violated were blocked as unconstitutional. The fourth bill was declared entirely void for violating the single-subject rule.

The decision will have far-reaching ramifications for the Legislature.

Republicans who control the Senate and House have worked around the requirements for years, slipping policy items into budget bills in order to win support for the whole budget package. Last year, the Legislature was particularly aggressive and packed the 11 bills that make up the budget with a hodgepodge of conservative policy items, some of which had failed as standalone bills.

With the high court’s new ruling, lawmakers will surely be sued and quickly lose if they continue violating the constitutional rules.

The budget stalemate continues because of failed Republican leadership.

14 thoughts on “‘Skinny Budget’ Scam Dies In Committee; Budget Stalemate Continues”

  1. Schumer and Pelosi have both served far more than my 16 years. Should they get kicked out too or are you the hypocrite I think you are?

    • I support term limits for everyone, and a maximum age limit for serving in office, including Justices, let’s say 72, so we don’t wind up with a geriatric government of old dudes in their 70s and 80s. Better examples would be Sen. Chuck Grassley, age 88, actually running for reelection, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, age 88, recently in the news regarding her cognitive abilities. Nancy Pelosi, age 82, should retire and allow the next generation of leadership to move up. Chuck Schumer, age 71, is hitting my maximum age for retirement.

      Oops!, just like you, age 71, hitting my maximum age for retirement. You’re a two-fer, term limits and age limit.

      And no, I do not think that Joe Biden, age 79, Bernie Sanders, age 80, or the criminal insurrectionist Donald Trump, age 75, should be running for president in 2024.

      That movie title from several years ago “No Country For Old Men” should be the guiding principle. America has always been about its youthful optimism. It’s spirit is being crushed by greedy, bitter old men who don’t know when it’s time to move on.

      • While there are legitimate reasons for not allowing people on the ballot, excess age is not one of them. To arbitrarily state that people 70 and over cannot hold elected office is a form of voter suppression because you deny voters their possible choices. Besides, if you think that people 70 and over or not mentally capable of performing critical tasks, then where will you go next? Do you intend to purge the medical profession of doctors 70 and over? Should all pilots licenses and drivers license is revoked when people reach 70?

        Based on what you said, I think the movie that is your guiding principle is Soylent Green.

        • Get Fucking real. You are a Fox News fan where they run multiple pieces a day questioning Joe Biden’s mental faculties after having supported the most adel-brain moron ever to hold the office for four years. And pilots licenses, really? Federal legislation, known as the “Fair Treatment for Experienced Pilots Act,” raised the upper age limit for commercial pilots from age 60 to age 65. The legislation became effective December 13, 2007. It’s been 15 years! And the example of Justices that I used: The Arizona Constitution, Article 6, Section 39 requires judges in Arizona to retire at – you guessed it! – age 70. As always, you are full o’ shit, Troll Boy.

          Take your double-dip – or is it a triple-dip? – pensions and go enjoy your retirement years before you are too damn old and in poor health to enjoy it. I hear you MAGA types are all moving to The Villages in the “Free” State of Florida. I’ll even help you pack.

          • Do you really think using profanity helps to make your point? Really juvenile. I love the way you cherry pick your facts. First of all, only 32 states cap the ages of judges and some go as high as 90. Additionally, there is no age cap on federal judges or private pilots. You should apologize for misleading the readers and using profanity.

            By the way, since you blog in a cowardly anonymous way, are you nearing 70 because I noticed that over the past few years your arguments are deteriorating cognitively and you are becoming more prone to spouting profane rants.

          • Dude, that’s hilarious! You have been trolling this blog since it was established and you have never once made a cogent, intelligent argument. Always with the trolling. You do know that your years worth of trolling comments are stored in our files? We are happy to make them available to the media, as if they care. Makes for great oppo research though. You can join your troll buddy John Huppenthal in the wilderness. The occasional profanity is for a point of emphasis. I believe you have me confused with Michael Bryan, who really enjoys the use of profanities. And you are no choir boy, who do you think you are kidding? I am not nearing 70, it is you who is 71. Maybe you should take Donald Trump’s cogntive test: “Person, woman, man, camera, TV.”

          • Just out of curiosity, I looked it up: it turns out that your obsession with trolling this blog (I’ll bet that there are others) for 16 years is a psychological disorder. From Psychology Today, “Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists” (2014), https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-online-secrets/201409/internet-trolls-are-narcissists-psychopaths-and-sadists

            In this month’s issue of Personality and Individual Differences, a study was published (link in the article) that confirms what we all suspected: Internet trolls are horrible people.

            [T]wo online studies were conducted with over 1,200 people, giving personality tests to each subject along with a survey about their Internet commenting behavior. They were looking for evidence that linked trolling with the “Dark Tetrad” of personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism.

            They found that Dark Tetrad scores were highest among people who said trolling was their favorite Internet activity. To get an idea of how much more prevalent these traits were among Internet trolls, one can refer to tables from the paper showing low Dark Tetrad scores for everyone in the study … except the trolls. Their scores for all four traits soar on the chart. The relationship between trolling and the Dark Tetrad is so significant that the authors write in their paper:

            “… the associations between sadism and GAIT (Global Assessment of Internet Trolling) scores were so strong that it might be said that online trolls are prototypical everyday sadists.” [emphasis added]

            Trolls truly enjoy making you feel bad. [Time wasted on me, Dude.] To quote the authors once more (because this is a truly quotable article): “Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others. Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground!”

          • “…are you nearing 70 because I noticed that over the past few years your arguments are deteriorating cognitively…”

            Ha ha. John, didn’t you just admit that people 70 and over deteriorate cognitively?

            I Googled it for you. First, there’s mild cognitive impairment.

            “How common is mild cognitive impairment? The American Academy of Neurology estimates that mild cognitive impairment is present in about 8 percent of people age 65 to 69, in 15 percent of 75 to 79 year-olds, in 25 percent of those age 80 to 84, and in about 37 percent of people 85 years of age and older.”

            Now for dementia.

            “One in seven Americans over the age of 70 suffers from dementia, according to the first known nationally representative, population-based study to include men and women from all regions of the country.”

            “About 3.4 million people, or 13.9 percent of the population age 71 and older, have some form of dementia, the study found. As expected, the prevalence of dementia increased dramatically with age, from five percent of those aged 71 to 79 to 37.4 percent of those age 90 and older.”

          • Former New Jersey cop and government mooch John Kavanagh has a sad over swears. LOL.

            And I thought all them Jersey boys were so butch. 🙂

            For fun, Lyin’ Johnny, do a web search for “smart people swear more”.

            It’s mothe f’n science my dude.

            And Liza proves yet again that John Kavanagh does not think things through. So much LOL’ing!

            Well, time to feed the algorithm…

            Please donate to RAICES in honor of Arizona Rep John Kavanagh. RAICES provides free or low cost legal help to immigrants.

            Do it because we need to good in the world to offset the harm to children and families people like Lyin’ Johnny do.

          • Can you believe it? I was even kind enough to offer to help him pack up his belongings for his move to MAGA Land in Florida. I even gave him some solid advice to enjoy his retirement years before he is too old or too ill to enjoy them. And this is the thanks I get? What an ingrate!

          • He’s a f**king ingrate.

            As far as trolling goes, I freely admit I enjoy laughing at the guy while he makes a fool of himself online, but IRL, the dude has done terrible things to families and children.

            He uses his position to hurt people.

            I have no respect for a “man” who hurts children.

          • To Liza: you need to recognize sarcasm.
            To AzBM: My last post must have really gotten to you. Did you spend hours of your life researching that reply? It is so easy to pull your strings. This is just a blog with everyone preaching to the choir except me. Get a life.

          • Lyin’ Johnny needs to get the last word because to prove he’s not a dim witted troll boy.

            LMFAO. 🙂

            What I find ironic is his party was crying about unmasking a few years ago but he comes here and complains about anonymous comments.

            The guy can’t keep his story straight.

  2. Seems like Regina, the chair, continually, wants to have, “I have something more important to do”, time limits on bill testimonies, no matter how many people have travelled from whatever distance, to the hearing. Seems like the skinny bill is, either, A) a lazy way to get something done fast, with little work. Or, B), a genuine attempt, to get something going on the budget, since they only have the one vote majority. But god forbid, trying to obtain a bi-partisan budget and compromise a little. And since the fake Udall, is running for something else, she has to look like she cares about education, considering all other votes which say the opposite.

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