That’s right Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore . . . you’re in the meth lab of democracy, Arizona

I did a series of posts last year on the theme that Kansas is a cautionary tale for Arizona. Governor Sam Brownback’s faith based supply-side “trickle down” economics utopian experiment in Kansas has been an unmitigated disaster.

Even Gov. Brownback has now slowly begun backing away from his failed “trickle down” economics utopian experiment in Kansas. Pressed by Budget Squeeze, Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas Pulls Back on Tax Cuts (Brownback on Friday proposed some higher sales taxes and slowing his plan to reduce state income taxes).

I gave you fair warning that Dicey Doug Ducey, the man hired by Koch Industries to manage their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona (h/t Charles Piece), now to be known as “Kochtopia,” has blind faith in the entirely disproved and discredited supply-side “trickle down” GOP economics. Doug Ducey is Arizona’s answer to Sam Brownback: a disaster in the making.

TotoDicey Doug Ducey still believes in unicorns and rainbows, despite the cautionary tale of Kansas.

That’s right Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore . . . you’re in the meth lab of democracy, Arizona, where crazy (right) winged monkeys are in charge. It is a way darker place than the Land of Oz.

Howard Fischer follows up his analysis of Dicey Doug Ducey’s slash and burn budget from yesterday. Ducey budget cut hits education, local governments, drivers:

Gov. Doug Ducey proposes to balance the state budget by cutting aid to universities by more than 10 percent, taking some revenue-sharing dollars from cities and counties, and imposing what amounts to a new tax on motorists.

Ducey’s nearly $9.1 billion spending plan, about $187 million less than this year, also cuts funding to promote tourism and dips into other state funds to the tune of $304 million.

The governor contended his budget increases classroom funding by $134 million, but there is less there than meets the eye.

Most of that is from what voters already have told lawmakers to increase aid to schools to account for inflation. And even at that, the governor proposes giving schools only what the Legislature contends the state owes schools, rather than the $330 million a court already has ruled is due.

Further, Ducey funds the increase by directing schools to spend 5 percent less on things outside the classroom, ranging from administration to transportation and utilities. That and other changes total $123.7 million.

When all that is factored in, the actual year-over-year increase in state funding for public schools is $11 million out of close to $3.8 billion.

* * *

Tim Ogle, executive director of the Arizona School Boards Association, said the edict ignores the reality of what is being paid from the nonclassroom side of the budget.

“You have bond obligations and utilities and maintenance on your buses and transportation and food service,” he said. “There’s just nothing to cut.”
H.T. Sanchez, superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District, was more direct, saying in a prepared statement that the budget amounts to an attack on schools.

“These cuts go beyond administration,” Sanchez said. “He has also targeted counselors and librarians, specialists who provide math and reading intervention, food services and custodians.”

There are places where Ducey plans to spend more, not less.

One of those is for private companies to build and operate more prison beds. John Arnold, the governor’s budget director, said the cost of that starts at just $5.3 million for the coming fiscal year, but eventually will add $60 million to the state budget.

This is the traditional GOP formula in Arizona: you can pay for education or you can pay for prisons. The GOP does not pay for education, but  it doles out money for prisons. You can bet that Sen. John Kavanagh has his hand out lining up a sweetheart deal with private prison lobbyists.

How does this square with Gov. Ducey’s “opportunity for all to receive a quality education” pledge? It doesn’t. Maybe kids left behind can pick up their GED while in prison — but no employer is going to hire them because of their prison record. Such is life in the meth lab of democracy.

flying.monkeyThe governor’s press flack, “Douche-bag Danny” Scarpinato, the former political reporter hack for the Arizona Daily Star who went on to flack for the RNCC, “didn’t respond to questions about whether Ducey would consider other options, like revisiting laws on mandatory sentencing or alternatives to incarceration,” like California voters did last November with Proposition 36. Maybe the citizens of Arizona should pursue an initiative to short-circuit this new prison funding.

As for that “new tax” on vehicles Howard Fischer alluded to yesterday:

That new charge for motorists is a $6 to $7 hike in the existing $8 annual registration fee charged on top of the value-based levy on vehicles, which is expected to raise about $65 million a year to help fund the Department of Public Safety.

“This is not a tax increase,” Scarpinato insisted, calling it an agency fee.

That is hilarious, monkey boy! This is exactly the same thing that Gov. Jan Brewer said about the “hospital assessment fee” to pay for her Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan, for which the Tea-Publicans in the legislature are currently in court suing to set aside because it was not passed with a two-thirds super-majority of the legislature under Prop. 108 required for “new taxes.”

Does this vehicle “fee” increase have the support of those very same Tea-Publican legislators? If they vote for this vehicle “fee” increase their Medicaid lawsuit should immediately be dismissed, because it was clearly brought in bad faith.

The cuts to universities total about $75 million. Arizona State University would take a $40.3 million hit, with a $21.6 million reduction to the University of Arizona. Northern Arizona University would see its state aid reduced by $13.1 million.

While Ducey’s election campaign made an issue of Democrat Fred DuVal’s voting to raise tuition as a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, as governor, Ducey made it clear that he intends to shift the costs to students.

“We believe the universities are investments for our state,” he said. But he said the schools are “also an investment for individual students.”

student.debtDid you catch that boys and girls? Dicey Doug Ducey’s “dark money” pals in the “Kochtopus” spent millions on ads smearing Fred DuVal for raising college tuition at the state’s universities — only after the steepest cuts to education in the nation by our Tea-Publican legislature — and yet here is Dicey Doug Ducey cutting the universities again, saying that college students should pay higher tuition for their education. Paying higher college tuition is now an “investment,” college boys and girls! You know it better as crippling student loan debt, which makes Tea-Publicans’ bankster friends very happy. The hypocrisy is stunning.

By the way, this framing of “investment” is the exact opposite of the Tea-Publican criticism of Democrats as the “spending lobby” for supporting increased spending on education and critical services and infrastructure for calling it an “investment” in our future. In this framing, “investment” = “higher taxes” to Tea-Publicans. See George Will’s mini-me, Robert Robb, the patrician prevaricator for the Plutocracy today. Ducey gets no credit for modest tax proposal.

Tea-Publicans do not see any value in investing in education and critical services and infrastructure, because Tea-Publicans are deadbeats who want to enjoy all of the privileges of a civilized society, but they do not want to have to pay for it.

Dicey Doug Ducey said “We’re asking everyone to share in this sacrifice.” No, not really. The corporate Plutocrats at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and private charter schools got everything they wanted. Everyone else, not so much.

Eileen Klein, president of the Board of Regents, said that [sacrifice] already has happened.

“No students in the nation have been asked to do more than the students in Arizona,” she said.

Klein said the universities have tightened their belts, eliminating positions, and consolidating colleges and programs. And tuition has been raised significantly.

“Arizona families can’t be the backstop for the state’s fiscal challenges,” Klein said. “That model simply doesn’t work.”

The budget plan also further cuts state aid for the Pima, Pinal and Maricopa community college systems.

Ducey’s budget is also balanced with funds from local governments.

The state now provides “revenue sharing” with cities, towns and counties. That was part of a deal to keep cities from levying their own income taxes.

Arnold said that since the state is collecting that money for the localities, they should help pay to run the Department of Revenue. So the governor’s budget reduces their aid payments by a total of $14.1 million.

The Arizona legislature has been “sweeping” revenue sharing and HURF funds from counties and cities for years as part of their budgetary gimmicks to “balance” the state budget by stealing from local governments.

It is also a means of shifting the responsibility for raising taxes to pay for necessary county and city services onto local governments. The legislature’s revenue sweeps are why your roadways are crumbling. Don’t blame your local governments, blame the thieves in our lawless Tea-Publican legislature.

Counties would also have to pay more to cover the cost of sending youths to the Department of Juvenile Corrections. And on top of that, the state no longer will take juveniles who have not committed felonies, meaning counties would have to find other options closer to home, at their own expense.

This was a BFD a few years ago when this was first proposed. Opposition from the counties killed it back then.

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) has more on these fund sweeps. Ducey proposes cuts, one-time sweeps to balance budget (reordered paragraphs):

In FY16, Ducey called for more than $300 million in fund sweeps. The Arizona Commerce Authority stands to lose $100 million – $75 million from the Arizona Competes Fund, also known as the agency’s “deal-closing fund,” and another $25 million from its Work Force Recruitment and Job Training Fund. The Special Employee Health Fund at the Arizona Department of Administration, which Arnold said was overfunded, will lose $90 million. And the Arizona Department of Transportation will lose $35 million from its highway expansion and aviation funds.

* * *

Another major cut will come from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. Ducey proposed cutting health care provider reimbursement by $40 million.

Arnold noted that the state will have to demonstrate to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that the cuts won’t reduce Medicaid coverage in Arizona.

This should lead to doctors dropping out of providing Medicaid services, and adding to the doctor shortage.

The Arizona Capitol Times makes the crtical point that Dicey Doug Ducey’s slash and burn budget “comes with a major asterisk“:

It assumes that the state wins its appeal in lawsuit over K-12 funding. If the state loses, it could be on the hook for more than $300 million each year, throwing a precariously balanced budget back into disarray.

“We’ll cross the bridge when it gets there. I’m trying to close a $533 million shortfall,” gubernatorial budget chief John Arnold said during a budget briefing on Friday, referring to the presumed budget deficit the state will have for fiscal year 2016.

For now, Arizona faces shortfalls of nearly $160 million for the remainder of fiscal year 2015 and more than $533 million in FY16, presuming a ruling in the K-12 funding case doesn’t add to it.

Does this sound like someone who is serious about his suggestion that our lawless Tea-Publican legislature should settle the lawsuit with the school districts to you?

Ducey’s empty words will be followed by an appeal that drags on, and if our lawless Tea-Publican legislature is finally ordered to pay restitution to the school districts from whom these thieves stole, they will simply refuse to pay the judgment in the end, asserting that the Court cannot force a co-equal branch of government to pay a lawful judgment. “Bleh! You can’t make me!

Somehow I do not believe this will be one of the questions on the new civics test for graduation from high school. School House Rock doesn’t teach that government is supposed to function this way.

14 responses to “That’s right Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore . . . you’re in the meth lab of democracy, Arizona

  1. It doesn’t, the only thing that works is “give me your money”!

  2. Most of the people in Arizona is connected to the prison population one way or another. Some work in one and others have relatives that were in one. Arizonas culture is as a prison state.

  3. captain*arizona

    70% of whites in arizona(non hispanics) vote republican and don’t care as long as their taxes are not raised and money is spent on prisons not education. Liberals are always trying tell the 70% of whites who don’t care that they should care. Liberal whining does no good you can’t shame these people they have no shame! Blue meanie says I say this to much ;but it is the only answer registration drive of hispanics and possible total vote by mail (with safe guards to make sure they are counted and let voter know in time if they are not counted!)

  4. You mean McCains country and Ducey is funding the “gay factories” (prisons) instead of the “dreamers” (education)

  5. “…..entirely disproved and discredited supply-side “trickle down” GOP economics.”

    By whom?

    Might want to inform your 12 readers why Kansas is in the pickle that it is in. Sebelius and the teachers’ union blew up the budget, and Brownback has been trying to fix it and boost the economy. KS is a large oil producer, and the recent drop in oil prices is a setback. Naturally, the RATS blame Brownback for the crisis they created.

    Brownback is trying to attract business with the tax cuts. That is something that doesn’t happen overnight.

    • Donna Gratehouse

      Citation, please.

    • AZ BlueMeanie

      How about you provide me one example of where “trickle down” has actually worked as promised, troll. You can’t, because a real world example does not exist supported by the economic data. I read the economic studies and reports as part of my job for decades. There is no real world example. It exists only in the fantasy world of the conservative media entertainment complex.

      After four years in office, when oil prices were high, Brownback’s utopian world should be working. Blaming Sebelius, who hasn’t been governor since January 2009, and the recent drop in oil prices thanks to an OPEC price war, just demonstrates what an ignorant troll you are.

  6. movingazforward

    Ducey and pals have theirs, it’s why they are in office. I’m sure they would have no problem saying that out loud.

    That their actions will have a very detrimental effect on 95% of Arizona residents, well that just makes them sociopaths. But, they probably know that as well and sleep just fine.

    Lest we forget…we wouldn’t be here without a lot of lazy, ignorant (non) voters. They have seen time and time again exactly how their inaction will play out them, and more importantly, all of the people who are too young to not vote.

  7. Donna Gratehouse

    Yeah, that is a major asterick, that teeny little issue about the pending K-12 lawsuit. Quite disingenuous of them to neglect to run the numbers for them losing the appeal.

  8. Just think: If the Legislature had not cut taxes every session for the past 14 or 15 sessions, there wouldn’t be a budget deficit and the bills would get paid.

    • Donna Gratehouse

      Yep. That tax cut they gave me about 10 years amounted to exactly $86. I remember joking it would get me one sweater from Banana Republic. But it amounted to a lot more for wealthier people and it devastated our revenues.