Thursday, March 31, 2011

GOP sucker punches Ariz. with more massive cuts to schools

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats are holding House Republicans accountable for their irresponsible budget that increases class sizes, steals money from voters and raises taxes on middle-class families.

House Republicans passed through committee on Thursday a budget that makes more massive cuts to education, diverts voter-approved funds to GOP pet projects and shifts the property tax burden even more heavily onto the shoulders of Arizona’s struggling middle-class.

“When is government and the Republicans who control it going to stop working for special interests and start working for We the People?” said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell. “This budget is littered with the wrong priorities for Arizona and we’re sick of it. Arizona’s parents, kids, teachers and business leaders are sick of it. It’s time to hold Republicans accountable and fix a broken system.”

House Republicans’ budget:
-Cuts universities by $200 million and community colleges by $73 million.
-Cuts $180 million from K-12 education, which will increase our kids’ classroom sizes to more than 40. These cuts come after the largest cut to education in state history made by Republicans in the last two years and a tax increase voters approved for education.
-Shifts the costs of the state budget onto our struggling cities and counties. It requires five of Arizona’s counties to "donate" nearly $40 million to solving the state's budget mess.
-Requires counties to incarcerate any convicted felon given a sentence of less than a year, shifting $55 million in costs to counties and increasing taxes on homeowners.
-Shifts an additional $39 million of the burden of running the Motor Vehicle Division to cities and counties.
-Eliminates child care for working families struggling to keep their jobs during tough times and limits temporary aid to those families to 24 months, two thirds of what is now permitted.
-Cuts health care funding that will result in 45,000 jobs lost (Arizona Chamber of Commerce study from last year's similar proposal to eliminate Prop 204 funded populations) and doesn’t solve the transplant issue.
-Cuts 280,000 people off of health care.

House Republicans told the public about their budget only minutes before they began debating it in the Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

“Arizonans deserve a government that is honest, open and transparent, but Republicans, who control all of state government, created their budget behind closed doors, where they determined the fate of Arizona’s middle-class families,” said Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley. “That fate includes fewer jobs, a poor economy and a broken system that only helps rich CEOs and lobbyists.”

Business leaders have recently criticized Republicans for their massive cuts to education and their failure to fix a broken system.

“Republicans approved massive education cuts, increased class sizes, pay cuts for thousands of teachers and elimination of critical programs that help students get ahead in the worldwide economy,” said House Democratic Whip Anna Tovar. “Now Arizona spends less on our students than any other state in the country. Yet Republicans are proposing even deeper cuts to our local schools. Let’s hold them accountable.”

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