Special Session Alert: Something Wicked This Way Comes

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Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Oldclown

The Arizona Guardian (subscription required) reports that "After weeks of closed-door meetings, GOP legislative leaders are trying to rush through a package of budget bills so fast that adequate public notice and participation will be all but impossible."

"On Tuesday, Republicans in the Senate voted to suspend the rules in order to allow the bills to be heard in committees without the required prior notification." Senate leaders decided to hold the hearing Wednesday morning.

"Senate President Bob Burns said lawmakers will then try to move the entire budget deal out of the Legislature by the end of the day. The House is scheduled to come back at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday."

Republicans love the smell of totalitarianism in the morning. Transparency and democracy are for losers.

The Arizona Republic reports that "Lawmakers hope to scramble together a budget solution by tonight that would send a temporary sales-tax hike to the ballot while enacting permanent property and income-tax cuts." Arizona Lawmakers may vote on budget solution today

Democrats are crying foul. They thought they’d been working on a bipartisan arrangement only to find out Republicans leaders had cut a side deal with the Governor.

The plan attempts to mirror the five points that Gov. Jan Brewer has said she wants in a budget plan.

It was unclear Tuesday if Brewer agrees with the plan. She indicated she wants to keep the sales-tax increase at 1 cent per dollar for three years; lawmakers want to phase it down from 1 cent to three-quarters of a cent and then half a cent in the last year.

Senate President Bob Burns said they are still working on a "few items" with Brewer.

Democrats, angered that talks with Republicans were overpowered by the GOP plan, said the proposal would hamstring efforts to pay for growth in health care or education, since it would cap state spending at 2009 levels, or $10.2 billion.

They also charged that the plan sets the state up for a big budget hole in 2012, especially if voters reject the sales-tax hike. That's because $650 million in property-and income-tax cuts would take effect that year.

“The Legislature and governor’s deal, if passed, ensures that Arizona will face massive deficits for years to come. That’s not leadership. In fact, it guarantees billions in eventual cuts from education, public safety and child welfare without taking a single cut in their own budgets. Incredibly, rather than fixing our budget problem, this deal makes it even worse,” Attorney General Terry Goddard said in a statement Tuesday. Goddard faults budget deal

House Democrats issued this Press Release:

Today Republican leaders deserted bipartisan talks and are working with Gov. Jan Brewer on a risky and dangerous budget deal that puts Arizona in a deeper fiscal hole over the next three years.

Republicans’ plan only guarantees more deep cuts to education, the disabled and seniors, something Brewer vowed she wouldn’t support.

“Once again, Republican leaders chose an unnecessary path of instability, risk and definite cuts to school children, seniors and people with disabilities,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “We thought we were all making bipartisan progress for a stronger Arizona, but Republicans couldn’t leave hard-line partisanship behind. They chose worst case scenario, and Arizonans should be prepared for a long, tough economic road ahead.”

Republicans' plan includes:

   >      A huge risk that a one-cent sales tax increase won't pass at the ballot, but their proposed income tax decrease of $400 million a year and the permanent repeal of the state education equalization tax of $250 million a year will be implemented regardless, digging Arizona into an even bigger hole, with no new revenue guaranteed. This only benefits big corporations and the wealthy. Republicans now support the sales tax increase after signing a no-tax pledge.

    >     A 3-year TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights)-like spending cap for education, the disabled, seniors and more, guaranteeing that new growth will not be funded and schools will have to make deep cuts to meet the cap. That includes fewer classroom supplies and increased class sizes. Brewer vowed not to “decimate” these areas, but now supports it.

    >    A ballot initiative to repeal the protections of education and health care funding afforded by Proposition 105. Voters originally brought the Voter Protection Act, which protects voter-approved initiatives to the ballot, preventing the legislature from raiding funding for or changing voter-approved measures, which would undermine the will of the voters.

“This is one of the most dangerous plans Republicans have come up with yet,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “Instead of leading Arizona’s children and middle-class families on the right track toward economic stability and quality education, this plan takes the state in the wrong direction for years to come.”

Republicans’ tax increase plan only raises $75 million in revenue when tax cuts are added, still not enough to make up the $3.4 billion shortfall.

“If the state wanted a recipe for economic disaster, it got the best cooks in town,” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “Arizonans should be prepared because no one wins from this except big corporations and the wealthy.”

If you are going to call legislators to oppose this budget, call the Grover Norquist "no new tax" pledge Republicans and remind them that they will face a primary opponent if they break their pledge by voting for the sales tax referral. Use their extremist ideology against them. It takes a 15-15 tie to kill a bill in the Senate (16 votes would be better).

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.