PHOENIX -- Three weeks remain to solve the largest budget crisis Arizona has ever seen and House Democrats are calling on Gov. Jan Brewer (R) today to negotiate a realistic budget now.
Today, Brewer is spending a full day to gather opinions from her hand-picked 'stakeholders' instead of spending the very limited time the state has to negotiate and solve the budget deficit.
“The public clearly has spoken about what their budget priorities are again and again — protect education and jobs and middle-class families from high taxes,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “If Gov. Brewer wanted more input on the budget, she could have done so months ago by asking for public comment just like Democrats did in public budget hearings around the state. In these critical three weeks, she needs to come to the table and do the hard work to negotiate a budget.”
House Democrats have asked Brewer twice in formal letters to meet with all four leadership teams — House and Senate Democrats and Republicans — and also asked her verbally to hold these meetings several times.
“So far, she hasn’t taken action with any leadership team to make that happen and it’s very disappointing,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “We know what Arizonans want, and for months, we’ve been ready to step up and negotiate a bipartisan budget to make Arizona stronger. The clock is ticking.”
House Democrats said stakeholders in today’s meeting should know that Brewer’s budget may appear to solve the budget deficit in the short term, but it decimates the state in years to come:
-- Brewer’s one-cent per dollar temporary sales tax hike creates a high tax burden for the majority of Arizonans, costing them $438 a year. There are other revenue generating options that raise more money, provide a more stable revenue base for the state budget and cost the average taxpayers less.
-- Her plan proposes several measures to temporarily aid in funding education and vital human services, but in the long term, her plan does not protect education. After 2010, schools will be left hanging from a funding cliff. Brewer's plan spends all the education stimulus dollars in 2010. Once the stimulus funds are gone, the temporary sales tax increase ends (or fails to be approved by the voters) and the corporate tax cuts in her plan are implemented, the revenue shortfall will be bigger and K-12 and university funding will be in an even deeper budget hole.
“There are some major concerns about the budget that Democrats and Republicans need to address,” said House Democratic Whip Chad Campbell. “Now more than ever, it’s time to get down to business.”
"My constituents and I are upset Gov. Brewer continues to waste time and not call for 5 party talks between her and House and Senate leadership, including Democrats," said Rep. Daniel Patterson (D-Tucson). "Arizona will not get a fair budget without Democratic votes, and there will not be Democratic votes without our full involvement in budget negotiations. Stubbornly refusing to invite everyone to the negotiating table leaves millions of affected Arizonans unrepresented in the budget process."
- adapted from House Dems PIO.