Monday, February 13, 2012

House Democrats to Brewer: ‘Arizonans want results, not your buy-back gimmick’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats proposed today several alternatives to Gov. Jan Brewer’s public relations gimmick to buy back the state capitol buildings she sold to Wall Street banks in 2010.

House Democrats said Brewer’s plan to put $106 million (estimated by JLBC) in a lock box until 2020 just to get the deed to the buildings could be better used to create jobs, hire more teachers and restore KidsCare.

“The only real ‘benefit’ to the governor's proposal is that a symbolic piece of paper — the title to the capitol — comes back to the state,” said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell. “But that money could be used today to create jobs will be tied up in an escrow account ‘benefiting’ no one. Symbolic gimmicks don't balance budgets or prove the governor has a long-term plan for making sure Arizona's workers have jobs or children have quality schools.”

House Democrats ideas include:

—Job Training: Reinstate job training. When the job training funds were not eliminated in 2011, 55 companies made use of them and 1,522 new jobs were created. (JLBC and OSPB)

—Job Training with Community Colleges: With a statewide average tuition of $2,167 per year, we could allow a tuition waiver for 22,611 Arizonans to go to a community college training program for two years. Arizonans would be able to retrain and sharpen their skills at our community colleges. (JLBC)

—Teachers: We could hire nearly 1,000 new teachers. This would include their pay for two years at $50,000 a year which would be a boost from the average of salary of $42,000 in Arizona. (U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics)

—KidsCare: Provide health care to 57,434 children by passing Democratic bills that would restore KidsCare, which would cost $29.5 million. (JLBC)

—Child Care: 2,670 jobs would be created if we restored child care subsidies, and 19,000 additional children would have child care. (Arizona Child Care Association and JLBC)

—Early Childhood Education: Reinstate the Early Childhood Block Grant, which would provide additional resources for preschool programs, full-day Kindergarten, and programs for all students in Kindergarten to Grade 3. At $20 million a year, the program could be funded for five years. (JLBC)

—College Entrance Exams: Phoenix Union High School District has seen great success in instituting a program to allow all juniors to take the ACT as a way of making a college education a tangible goal. For $16 million you could ensure that four years of juniors statewide would have the same access to the ACT. (ACT)

—Building Renewal Grants: Over the last three years a suspended formula has kept more than $700 million from school districts for needed maintenance. The extra money would go a long way to creating construction jobs and shoring up our crumbling school infrastructure. (JLBC)

—Renewable Energy and Jobs: Several bills, including HB 2298 and HB 2243, work to incentivize job creation. HB 2243 specifically will help fast track solar permitting. Gila Bend, which did the same in 2010, landed three large scale solar power plants that are bringing in hundreds of jobs. (http://www.gilabendaz.org/SolarPlants.html)

—State Parks: $15 million for our state parks would make much-needed improvements, create jobs and boost tourism, thus attracting more visitors and revenue for small businesses near the parks. (ADEQ and Arizona State Parks)

“We’re focused on what matters — making government work for Arizonans,” said House Minority Whip Anna Tovar. “While it is important for us, not Wall Street banks, to own our government buildings, Gov. Brewer never should have sold them in the first place. But we face the reality of putting $106 million in a lock box so we can get a symbolic piece of paper or using it to make government work for Arizona’s families. We choose results, not a gimmick.”

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