Thursday, August 13, 2009
AZ House Dems fire back on GOP budget debacle
UPDATE, 1:50pm: Late breaking news @RepPatterson on twitter and facebook.
PHOENIX -- Read this recent letter from Arizona House Democratic leadership, the latest push in an 8 month effort to help the state pass a fair FY2010 budget.
ARIZONA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
August 11, 2009
The Honorable Jan Brewer, Governor
The Honorable Kirk Adams, Speaker of the House
The Honorable Bob Burns, President of the Senate
Arizona State Capitol, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix AZ 85007
It is with dismay and disappointment that we watch the course of events over the past few days. Our state is facing its worst budget crisis ever and, after seven months, no comprehensive budget solution is in place. There have been many false starts and, worse yet, each budget proposal has become more desperate and reckless than the last in an attempt to gain Republican votes, to no avail. No comprehensive budget solution that sets funding levels for the state government or addresses the growing deficit has been enacted.
It has become clear that you are unable to govern your way out of this desperate situation.
At what point do you say “enough is enough?” At what point will you stop your frenzied and fruitless pursuit for a “Republican” budget solution? To earn Republican votes, each of the budget proposals you have attempted to pass has become more and more focused on lumping extremist, ideologically-driven policy ideas into the budget. These policies are unrelated and unnecessary to addressing the budget problem at hand. Your budget proposals are now moving further away from a solution that would stabilize our state’s revenue system. In addition to making our state revenue even more reliant on the volatile sales tax, your most recent plan gives away virtually dollar-for-dollar as much in tax cuts over the next four years as is raised by the sales tax increase (IF it were to pass on the ballot). Your proposal forces middle class families to pay more in taxes in order to fund tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.
Pandering to the right-wing element of your Party has brought you no closer to resolving this budget crisis with a fiscally-sound, common sense, comprehensive solution.
The citizens of Arizona expect one simple thing from its state leaders – to pass a budget. This is our responsibility under the Arizona State Constitution as well. There is an obvious path to meeting this responsibility and, as we have been for months, Democrats stand ready to help walk down that path. However, the goals of the budget proposal should be to stabilize revenue, protect schools and vital services from devastating funding cuts and to get Arizona’s economy back on firm footing.
Our terms for budget negotiations are the terms that protect Arizona’s families. We are happy to negotiate a budget within that context. Specifically, we believe three things are necessary:
1) The starting point for budget negotiations will be the joint House-Senate Democratic budget we proposed in May. Our goals in this budget proposal were to A) protect education and vital social service funding and B) to increase revenue in a responsible way that stabilizes revenues and does not disproportionately burden middle class families with an unnecessarily high tax hike. These remain our goals.
2) Engagement in five-party talks, with representatives of both the House and Senate Republican and Democratic Leadership Teams in the room along with the Governor, is essential. The Governor must engage and participate in the dialogue. She also must come to the table with a willingness to negotiate specific terms within the context of her overall goals. All parties must take this approach and all parties, including the Governor, must agree to the proposal every step of the way.
3) Negotiations must include those Republican legislators who are willing to work cooperatively on and eventually vote for a bipartisan budget.
It is past time to face this problem, renounce partisanship and extremist ideological agendas, and enact a common sense solution. There is no time for games with legislators that are not interested in solving this problem. Our state faces its worst economic crisis ever and it is our responsibility as elected leaders to act. You have failed in meeting this responsibility on your own so, once again, we offer our help. We believe our conditions will protect this state's families from the ill-advised policies you have attempted (and failed) to pass.
We and the state of Arizona eagerly await your response.