Saturday, January 10, 2009

SoAZ lawmakers talk about state budget crisis

AZ Senate President Bob Burns (R-Peoria) this week called the budget crisis a 'tar baby'.

TUCSON -- Some southern Arizona legislators are featured in the Citizen today discussing the state's now $4-5B budget shortfall for fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

No doubt about it, this is Arizona's worst financial crisis since the great depression. Overall, Arizona has the worst budget situation of any state in the US.

As one of 60 members in the House, I will do everything I can to be an effective voice of reason to protect children and regular people during a session that promises to see painful budget cuts.

As we struggle to find a responsible way to balance the budget, I am disturbed some Republicans in the majority want to make the problem worse by insisting the legislature should permanently end the education equalization assessment, and also further cut income and corporate taxes. This reckless talk is fiscally irresponsible and very unwise at this time as it would only make Arizona's money shortage worse.

We cannot cut our way out of this budget shortfall. Arizona needs a focus on economic stimulus and green jobs, not more failed tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations that don't really need them.

Some of these same GOP politicians want to spend millions on a special election this year to ask people to overturn previous decisions by voters to protect education and health care funding from drastic cuts by the legislature. I cannot support that plan at this time, and if it is forced on to the ballot I predict voters will reject such an attack on their power through the initiative process.

As the state of Arizona tries to find ways to balance our budgets, ultimately the legislature and governor have a duty to closely examine and change how Arizona raises revenue to pay for essential public services. Arizona is far too dependent on the unfair and volatile sales tax. For Arizona's long-term fiscal health, our revenue system must be overhauled and reformed in a fair way.

We cannot cut our way out of this budget crisis. The federal stimulus should help Arizona, but it will not save us. I am advocating for maximum support to Arizona as part of President-elect Barack Obama's federal plan, and should know more details about that process after participating in a meeting later today with congressional representatives working on it.

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