Sunday, December 28, 2008

Progressive, Goldwater Inst. agree on prison cuts

Cut prison spending, not schools.

TUCSON -- As a progressive Democrat, I don't often agree with the conservative Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute (GI). However, I listen and I am fiscally responsible, with an emphasis on solving problems and helping people, and I'll bring these qualities to the State House starting Jan 12.

I must acknowledge GI for putting it's ideas before lawmakers, as it has recently done with a Dec 18 policy brief on the Arizona budget. On page 12 of the 30 page document, GI proposes cutting the Arizona Dept. of Corrections (prisons) by $96.2M, saying '...state prisons are notoriously full of nonviolent offenders, and zero-tolerance laws may well have over-stepped fiscal propriety.' I agree with this as a good start to help balance our budget, although there is much I disagree with in the rest of the GI brief.

I will work toward fairly balancing the state budget, and I won't support cuts that hurt Arizona's most at-risk people, but I have yet to hear in detail about balancing the budget from many progressive organizations that work the Capitol. I hope some are working on a plan and will get it to legislators soon.

On the lobbying side, GI may be getting out front on this number one issue for Arizona's 49th Legislature, the budget. I agree with bringing Arizona's bloated prison budgets back toward fiscal reality, and I call on progressives to step up soon with some suggested budget solutions.

The good news is the common ground for AZ prison spending reforms.

OTHER RECENT AZ LEG. TOPICS: water, education, SoAZ, new members, district 29/committees.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Congratulations on your election to the legislature. The most intriguing aspect of the GI's suggested cuts are two-fold.
1. They couldn't even come up with $1.2 billion to balance this year's budget (they were about $150 million short)--and next year we're looking at $2.4 billion!
2. If you read through many of their suggested cuts and rationale "can't afford it"--it's downright cold-hearted. For instance, we can't allow recently disabled people who are awaiting in many cases social security applications to be processed to have any income at all--(receiving no more than the princely sum of $173 a month, less if they are homeless).

Even if Congress delivers a big financial relief for the states that bails us out of the worst case scenario, we can't allow the 15 year practice of cutting revenues permenently with temporary surpluses to continue--which is why I've argued we need to raise revenues (gas tax and income tax in my case). (

Jan Brewer will determine if you're in a position to do that most likely, but I do think Democrats need to come up with a much more humane and realistic budget if Russell Pearce and company fail to provide a balanced approach (cuts and revenue increases) for FY 2010.