Tuesday, January 19, 2010

House Democrats respond to Brewer's Budget

Last week, Governor Jan Brewer released her proposed FY2011 Arizona budget. Her proposal was a mish-mash of ideological talking points, campaign spin, fervent wishes, and outright lies.

In the letter/press release accompanying her plan, she states that she won't "compromise" public safety, yet her plan would close the Department of Juvenile Corrections, forcing the responsibility for handling juvenile offenders onto already cash-strapped county jails, and cost 1000 people their jobs.

In the same letter, she promised to protect "total education funding at the State's FY 2006 funding levels." What she didn't say is that she wants to cut $750 million from schools by eliminating all-day Kindergarten and funding for school maintenance (think: balancing the budget by putting students under roofs that are about to collapse).

In addition to those cuts that she said that she wouldn't push, immediately before pushing them, she will throw 360,000 of Arizona's poorest children, adults, and seniors off of health care.

On top of all that, she wants to make Arizona's tax structure, already one of the most regressive in the country, even worse with an increase to Arizona's sales tax.

Add in little nuggets like making the Arizona State Veteran's Home "self-funding", aka "honor Arizona's veterans by charging incapacited and destitute veterans for staying alive" and closing most state parks (crippling the economies of many of Arizona's smaller communities) you have a budget plan that isn't just bad, but horrific.

It also certainly doesn't reflect the values and concerns of Arizonans, who have shown time and again through referenda and initiatives that they support public education and a social safety net.

Of course, part of Brewer's proposal is to suspend or overturn voter mandates.

Democratic leaders in the House were quick to respond, and respond clearly and directly.
“By proposing eliminating Juvenile Corrections, an important facet of public safety in Arizona, Gov. Brewer has failed to lead and continues to push Arizona down the wrong track,” House Democratic Leader David Lujan said.
“Gov. Brewer’s $750 million cut to classrooms is on top of the largest cut to education in state history that she made just last year,” Assistant Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema said. “It is wrong to rob health care from kids and seniors. Disrespecting voters and making these kinds of cuts to health care are the wrong priorities for our state.”

The Democratic leadership of the House also sent a letter to the Governor today reiterating their call for real budget talks among all five players at the Capitol (House Ds, Senate Ds, House Rs, Senate Rs, and the Governor's office) to solve the state's budget crisis. That letter noted that while she has indicated her openness to such five-party talks in the past, her actions indicated otherwise (putting an R-written budget in front of the Democrats and ordering them to vote for it isn't really "negotiating").

Personal note: Advice to Reps. Lujan, Sinema, and Campbell (and the rest of the Ds for that matter) -

Don't hold your breath.

AP coverage, courtesy KGUN9.com, here.
Other news:

State Rep. Chris Deschene (D-LD2) officially announced that he is seeking the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State. Not exactly surprising news, as he had been "exploring" a run for weeks.

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