What to do with the $5.3 Billion Surplus in Arizona? How about Investing it in Schools and Helping People

As Blue Meanie and AZ Mirror have reported, Arizona budget revenues currently project a $5.3 billion budget.

If those figures are accurate, this would present a great opportunity for the Governor and all the Legislators to fund important priorities that will move the state forward, expand the middle class, and help the disadvantaged.

Note that the last sentence said nothing about tax cuts for the rich.

These priorities should include:

  • Fully funding public schools.
  • Expanding access to poor children on KidsCare.
  • Boost the Housing Trust Fund.
  • Improving access and funding for child care.
  • Keeping some of the surplus for the rainy day fund when the inevitable cyclical recession does occur and when the federal COVID relief funding runs out.

All of the above mentioned proposals would move the state forward, expand the middle class, and help the disadvantaged.

So why are most of the Republicans in the State Legislature against those three objectives?

Why are they still so fixated on passing tax cuts for the rich the majority of the people in the Grand Canyon state does not support?

Why are they so enthused about privatizing all public entities including schools and access to water?

One obvious answer is they do not care what the people want (thus explaining their continual Anti-Democratic tendencies)and their priorities are moving the state backward, expanding the lower class, and helping the advantaged, both personal and corporate.

Democrats and Progressives feel that the budget process should take a different track.

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman feels some of the surplus should be channeled toward public education.

On social media, she posted:

Arizona State Representative Jennifer Longdon relayed:

“Republicans don’t appear yet to be moving with any urgency on the budget while still trying to line up votes for a special session on tax cuts, negotiating a long term water deal and with Senator Boyer holding out for a “grand bargain.” But the most interesting thing we’ve seen lately is the latest revenue figures. A $5 billion surplus thanks to a strong national economy and full employment, with $1.57 billion as ongoing revenue for the foreseeable future. So, if the Republican majority once again refuses to adequately fund public education, or to make a significant investment in affordable housing to offset rising rents and increasing homelessness, it’s not because we can’t afford it. It’s because they just don’t want to.

On the “grand bargain”, we absolutely support a significant increase in public school investment. Our schools remain among the most underfunded in the nation. But it’s going to be a real problem if you marry that to an unlimited expansion of private school vouchers, and a permanent and unsustainable $2 billion income tax cut, you will create insurmountable budget problems down the line. If our economy and revenue growth slows, the Governor and most of the culprits will be long gone. The only politically viable option for a future legislature to balance a budget deficit would be to scale back the public school investment. That would be tragic.”

Children’s Action Alliance head and former State Democratic Legislative leader David Lujan commented:

“This oversized surplus is largely the result of all of the federal stimulus money that has come into Arizona the last two years. It’s likely not sustainable and will disappear when we have the next downturn, which many economists are now predicting we will have a recession in the next two years. So what lawmakers should not do with the surplus is pass their huge tax cuts for the rich proposal which would permanently reduce state revenues by $2 billion annually. It only takes a simple majority to cut taxes but its requires a supermajority to reverse those tax cuts or raise revenue, something that has been virtually impossible to do for the past 30 years. A much better approach would be to take this opportunity to reinvest in those resources that have been underfunded for so long, like public education, making housing and child care more affordable, and increasing access to health care.”

Democrats are calling for targeted investments in domestic and local priorities that have been neglected by Republicans in this state for decades coupled with prudent fiscal management.

Those priorities will help schools and people.

No one can really say that about the Republican scheme to pass a flat tax that will cripple the state and leave everyone that does not make more than six figures scrambling for assistance.

Voters need to remember this when considering which candidates to vote for in November if Republicans ignore the will of the people and pass their trickle down nightmare of a budget before the legislative session ends.