Friday, June 26, 2009

State budget time - House Approps meeting on Saturday

Well, I had intended to write a post about Michael Jackson's passing, one that was profound, perceptive, and highly critical of the MSM's wall-to-wall coverage of it (bottom line: his death *is* news, but it's hardly the *only* news this week). However, Jan Brewer, Kirk Adams, and Bob Burns have conspired to use Michael Jackson's death as cover for imposing the worst budget in AZ history.

The "cut and slash" Republicans have compromised with the "slash and burn" Republicans (they really didn't have all that far to go - they already had "slash" as common ground) but I'm not sure that "compromise " is the right word here.

Is it really a compromise when it's really just the worst of both worlds?

I don't have time tonight to go through each bill of the "compromise" proposal, but some of the highlights include (from an article) -
• Referral to the November 2009 ballot of a temporary, 1-cent-per-dollar increase in the state sales tax.

• Implementation of a flat state-income tax at a rate of 2.8 percent, beginning in 2012. Currently, the state's income tax rates range from 2.59 percent for the lowest income bracket to 4.54 percent for individuals earning more than $150,000. An individual's first $10,000 would be tax-exempt, allowing the lowest-income Arizonans to pay nothing.

• Permanent repeal of the state equalization property tax. It has been suspended for three years, but generates about $250 million for state coffers when in effect.


• A prohibition on benefits for the domestic partners of state employees. The legislative proposal also had the ban, but the new proposal includes a grandfather clause to allow domestic partners already under the state health plan to remain covered.

• A two-year freeze on the ability of cities to increase impact fees on new development. The freeze replaces a three-year moratorium initially sought by lawmakers.

• A revocation by the state of about $22 million in cities' share of vehicle-registration fees. That's about half the $45 million that cities would have lost under the legislative budget proposal.

So, to sum up, in exchange for cuts to education and human services that are marginally less severe than those originally proposed by the legislature, the lege wants to enact tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations (flat tax, equalization tax repeal), a gift to deep-pocketed (and generous with the campaign contributions) developers and builders (ban on impact fees), and a chance to impose a tax increase that disproportionately affects poor and working-class families (referendum on a sales tax hike).


House Appropriations is scheduled to meet Saturday at 9 a.m. in HHR1 to consider the budget. The agenda includes 12 bills, all with budget-related strike everything amendments.

Note: "Trailer" refers to the fact that the bills are not complete budget bills; they only modify the previously passed Senate budget bills that the legislature's leaders have thus far refused to send to the governor. Enactment of these bills is conditioned upon enactment of the original lege budget.

The proposed strikers are here -

HB2643, general appropriations; 2009-2010; trailer

HB2644, budget reconciliation; general revenues; trailer

HB2645, budget reconciliation; general government; trailer

HB2646, state properties; trailer

HB2647, budget reconciliation; criminal justice; trailer

HB2648, budget reconciliation; k-12 education; trailer

HB2649, budget reconciliation; higher education; trailer

HB2650, budget reconciliation; health; welfare; trailer

HB2651, budget reconciliation; environment; trailer

HB2652, statewide special election; sales tax

HB2653, flat tax; individual income

HCR2037, temporary transaction privilege tax

I'm going to try to attend the March4Schools Rally tomorrow morning, but given the short notice, I may not be able to rearrange my work schedule.

I still strongly urge everyone who cares about Arizona and its future to attend, and to let the legislature hear about your concerns about the damage their budget will do to the state and its future.

Note2: Thus far, no House floor or Senate schedules have been posted. Check here for updates.

1 comment:

Thane Eichenauer said...

Don't tell me anybody is surprised about Brewer's plan being adopted. After all the alternative would be (gasp) a shut down of government!