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.
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.
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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.
The 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.”
Did 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.
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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.