Saturday, May 16, 2009

The coming week...budget crunch time is fast approaching

As usual, all info culled from the websites of the relevant political bodies and subject to change without notice...

...In the U.S. House, there aren't any post office namings (it's taken a while, but perhaps they've run out of post offices in need of renaming...OK, they're probably just catching their breath :) ), but there are a number of issues up for debate this week.

- There is a House amendment to S. 896, the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009. I couldn't find the text of the amendment, but there is a House Rules Committee hearing on it on Monday at 5:00 p.m.

- S.386, the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009, as amended. This should pass, as it passed 92 - 4 in the Senate on April 28 (our own Jon Kyl was one of the four senators to vote in support of bank fraud, naturally :) ). This one passed the House already (with AZ's Flake, Franks, and Shadegg supporter fraudsters) (naturally :)) ), but there were differences between the Senate version and the House version. Those have been ironed out, and this amended version may pass on a voice vote.

- H.R. 2352, the Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act of 2009. If passed, the bill would created a number of programs within the Small Business Administration to encourage and facilitate entrepeneurship, including among veterans, women, Native Americans, and those from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Republicans claim to support small businesses, but they will hate this one.

It'll pass anyway. :)

- H.R. 915 and H.R. 2200, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009 and the Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act of 2009, respectively. These are money bills, and there are always fights over money bills. Look for Jeff Flake to propose a couple of his cookie-cutter anti-earmark amendments.

...Over in the AZ lege, the floor schedule looks to be a light one pending developments on the budget front. The most controversial item appears to be on the House COW calendar.

They'll be considering HB2533, one of John Kavanagh's slate of anti-immigrant bills. The chair of the House Appropriations Committee wants to make it a class one misdemeanor to stand next to or in a roadway while soliciting employment from someone in a motor vehicle.

A class one misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of $2500 (plus surcharges).

Ask for a job, go to jail...Actually, "Have brown skin, ask for a job, go to jail." Niiiiice...

- In committee action, House Rules is meeting on Monday at 1 p.m. in HHR4. So far, that's the only House committee with an agenda posted.

Over in the Senate, the only committee agenda of interest (there are a couple of meetings to consider executive appointments) is Thursday's meeting of the Appropriations Committee at 9 a.m. in SHR1.

In a move that looks calculated to synch up with his nativist saddle partner's bill in House COW, Russell Pearce, the chair of Senate Approps, is forcing his committee to sit through a presentation on "Sanctuary Cities and the Cost to the State and its Citizens."

OK, "forcing" might be an overstatement - besides Pearce, the Republican members of the committee include Jack Harper, Pam Gorman, Ron Gould, Al Melvin, and Steve Pierce.

They live and breathe this stuff.

While the legislative Republicans fiddle with various ways to attack immigrants, every other level of government burns the midnight oil trying to fashion their annual budgets without knowing with certainty what their revenue will be. To whit...

...The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is holding an informal meeting on Monday at 10 a.m. in the Supervisor's Auditorium. The agenda is almost wholly devoted to FY10 budgets.

Wednesday's Formal meeting of the supes is filled with many mundane items, but there are some eyebrow-raising ones, too.

The best? Item 10 is a move by Joe Arpaio to get his hands on the $1.6 million earmark for him in the lege's 2009 budget fix. He wants to increase his staff by 15 positions - all deputies dedicated to his anti-immigrant putsch.

While all other County departments have to make cuts. Nice.

...The Governing Board of the Maricopa Integrated Health District will hold a special meeting on Thursday at 3 p.m. in the Maricopa Medical Center.

The one item on the agenda? The FY2010 budget presentation for the Maricopa Health Plan. The budget is based on 5% provider fee cuts and an assumption of fewer "in-patient" days.

Interesting combination - cut already-low provider pay, reducing the the number of healthcare providers interested in working with/for MHP, and expect that the resulting degradation of quality of patient care will result patients needing fewer days in the hospital?

Who worked on the budget proposal, Pollyanna?

...On Tuesday night at 5, the Scottsdale City Council will be meeting in the City Hall Kiva. The agenda includes fee and rate hikes for the coming fiscal year and the FY10 operating budget and capital improvement plan.

...Over at the Central Arizona Project, the Finance, Audit, and Power Committee is meeting at 1:15 p.m on Thursday to discuss tax rates for the 2009/2010 tax year. The committee meeting will follow a meeting of the entire Board of Directors in a work/study session at 9 a.m. to discuss rates, taxes, and reserves for the coming year.

...The Board of Directors of Valley Metro will meet on Thursday at 12:45 p.m. to consider its preliminary operating and capital budget for FY2010. They aren't planning any cuts; in fact, the proposed budget is roughly 10% higher than the last one due to increase in bus service and in some contracted rates. The interesting part is where the increased bus service will be handled by the same number of employees (127) as this year. In addition (in a move certain to warm the hearts of anti-public employee Republicans everywhere), the budget doesn't include any raises for employees (merit, step, or even COLA).

In other words, the same staff is going to face an increased workload without even a token COLA (cost of living adjustment) to their compensation? Nice.

I've got a solution, or at least the beginning of a solution, for the state lege's dallying on the budget. Change the rules of both chambers - pass a budget through to the Governor by April 1, or no other bills can be considered until one is passed. And if May 1 arrives without a budget, no pay (salary or per diem) until one is passed.

It won't happen, but if they have time for immigrant-bashing, they have time to work on the budget.

...In non-budget related meetings (yes, there is at least one of those)....

- The Arizona Corporation Commission will hold a Securities and Safety meeting on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

- The Tempe City Council, Governing Board of the Maricopa County Community College District, the Arizona Board of Regents, and the Citizens Clean Elections Commission are not meeting this week.



Thane Eichenauer said...

On the Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act of 2009 I just don't understand the reasoning. If government can create jobs why doesn't it create one for everyone? I don't think government can create jobs, it just takes them away from one person or business and gives them to some other person or business.

cpmaz said...

I'm not sure the Act is perfect (in fact, it's probably a safe bet that it isn't), but given the last few decades of using tax incentives to encourage American companies to send jobs overseas to low-wage third world countries, I'm not sure that taking steps to encourage job creation in the U.S. is a bad thing.

I know that we're not going to agree on this, but while you consider government intervention to be the worst thing in our society, I consider the growth of corporate influence and control in our society and its constant and soulless quest for short-term profits to be worse.

Far worse.

Thane Eichenauer said...

I don't mind imperfection in the human sphere but I don't cotton to taking actions that are known illogical actions. Is there no criteria by which one can make a reasonably perfect act?

There are plenty of people and elected officials who favor government spending as _a_ solution. I have never seen anybody lay out how an impartial third party can determine what is a correct amount of government spending and until there is I don't favor government _just spending_ because it is either the correct solution or (IMO) the incorrect solution.

We both know I am more critical of government actions than you are. Unfortunately government actors can be as short-term oriented as any corporation and should be monitored using the same skeptical eye.

If the problem is US jobs going to other countries, the best way is to reduce the tax overhead US jobs must exist under. The US government spending on foreign efforts without charge is (in my opinion) the major reasons US jobs are in decline (both wages and job loss).