A broad majority of Arizonans have made it clear they want education protected, but it seems legislative Republicans are not listening.
PHOENIX -- Republican lawmakers announced on today they would present budget bills in the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday at 10 a.m., giving the public fewer than 24 hours to review how much will be cut from education, cities and towns.
At first glance, the bills show Republican lawmakers still plan to raid hundreds of millions from school funding and cities’ and towns’ impact fees, similar to the unrealistic budget document they produced last week after months of secret meetings.
“The public deserves to have a say in deep cuts to education and programs that affect middle-class families during an economic crisis, but once again, Republican lawmakers decided to bypass their constituents at the last minute,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “Transparency is no where to be found.”
The budget bills show so far:
· Deep cuts to education, including a potential of more than $250 million of fund balances schools use for necessary maintenance and operation, capital outlay and soft capital like textbooks, technology and school buses.
· A hidden tax increase after a $293 million raid on citizen-paid funding for cities, towns and counties. These funds are intended to pay for communities’ infrastructure needs such as street lights, roads and sewers. Cities and towns would be forced to fill these holes by increasing taxes for residents or increasing impact fees on businesses to pay for the missing infrastructure funding.
House Democratic staff likely will work throughout the night to prepare briefings for House Democrats and the public, who will have to race to review the bills just in time for House Appropriations at 10 a.m. Tuesday, the earliest time possible to schedule a committee hearing.
"We will continue to fight for a fair budget that protects Arizona's kids, economy and future," said Rep. Daniel Patterson (D-Tucson).
“It’s truly disappointing that our colleagues still refuse to be open and transparent with the public about a budget that likely will have grave affects on children’s education,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “What’s even more alarming is how quickly they plan to rush through a budget that makes these deep cuts. It will be interesting tomorrow to see which Appropriations members truly will stand up for education.”
Other options are available besides cutting education, as shown in House Democrats’ plan available online at strongerarizona.com. One example is using a $3 million House slush fund that Republican lawmakers refuse to use for unexplained reasons. Another is restoring Republicans’ 2009 cuts and jobs to the Department of Revenue to seize $400 million in uncollected taxes.
“The budget cuts to education that our colleagues want to make are unreal, especially when you have so many other common-sense, feasible options just laying out there on the table,” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “For some reason, they just seem to zero in on jeopardizing our kids’ future and our state’s long-term economic vitality.”
- adapted from House Dems PIO