Visit me today in Tucson with AG Terry Goddard at 11a, Rudy Garcia Park, 5001 S Nogales Hwy. Also LD29 Town Hall, 2-4p, 4350 E 22nd St.
TUCSON -- Arizona Daily Star, Opinion, Jan 30 10
Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson
Committees: Water and Energy; Military Affairs and Public Safety
Additional cuts to the K-12 education system should be the absolute last resort. Gov. Jan Brewer and Republicans already made the largest cut to education in Arizona history last year, and Brewer now wants to make another cut of $750 million. A strong public education system is the foundation of our state's economic recovery and long-term stability - we must invest in our education system both in good times and in bad so we can attract businesses and jobs to our state. Arizona cannot rebound from our current economic downturn without having a school system that provides students of all ages the knowledge and skills they need to be the work force of the future. And our higher-education system must have the tools to foster new and diversified industries for Arizona - such as biotech and renewable energy - through research and development.
The health-care services on the chopping block are not for people on welfare. Most of these individuals have some income but they don't make much money and they are struggling to pay the bills during these tough times. Balancing the budget on the backs of those who are only trying to keep their jobs, support their families, keep their children healthy and live the life all middle-class Americans want, is not the answer and only pushes Arizona down the wrong track. And there are other options that would allow us to keep vital health-care services in place. Eliminating health-care coverage for these families will also disqualify Arizona for more than $1 billion in federal dollars. Arizonans send their taxes to Washington and we should make sure that money comes back to Arizona to pay for health care.
I am not ideologically tied to one type of cut - and I know more will be needed. But I believe that in deciding what to cut, programs and services that are vital to Arizona economic growth, like education, must be protected. A comprehensive and, preferably, a bipartisan approach to solving our budget crisis must be taken that includes cuts, stabilizing revenue and maximizing use of federal stimulus dollars. The budget shouldn't be solely balanced on the backs of children, seniors and middle-class families. Those are the wrong priorities for Arizona.
There are many special-interest groups that have preferential treatment in the state's tax code. They are exempted from sales tax or income tax through complex credits and loopholes. Now is the time to close the loopholes and ask all Arizonans to help make sure funding is available for education and vital state services. I support requiring big corporations and the rich to pay their fair share in taxes rather than raising taxes on middle-class families to pay for tax breaks on country club memberships and spa treatments. Items as bizarre as 4-inch pipes for paper used to print movie advertisement posters are exempted from the sales tax while middle-class families pay sales tax on school supplies. Right now in Arizona, schools need funding worse than movie production studios.