Monday, March 12, 2012

House Democratic budget focused on job creation, education and health services

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats today released a budget focused on creating jobs and improving education.

By contrast, the legislative and governor’s budgets do not do enough to help middle class families, Arizona’s economic engine.

“House Democrats understand that we need to prioritize the budget in a way that will fund programs that put people back to work and will improve schools so our kids can compete for jobs in the future,” said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14). “The executive and legislative budgets both fail to do that. The legislative budget neglects to hold companies that are benefiting from corporate bailouts accountable. The governor’s budget steals from Peter to pay Paul and leaves the state in a $540 million deficit in fiscal year 2015, the year after her term ends.”

The legislative budget hoards $450 million in Rainy Day fund, instead of spending it the way voters intended it to be spent—on education, health services and public safety. Even with the money stockpiled in this budget there would still be a $225 million shortfall by fiscal year 2015.

“The budget created by the majority party ignores the directive of the people of Arizona,” said House Minority Whip and Appropriations Committee Member Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson (District 13). “Voters told us to use the money raised through the one cent sales tax to pay for education and public safety. The money is supposed to be working for the people, not sitting idle in a Rainy Day fund.”

The governor’s budget will create a $540 million shortfall by 2015, according to projections from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. The governor increases spending and finances it through fund sweeps. This unsustainable practice contributes to the astounding deficit in 2015.

“The governor is planning to leave office before she has to deal with the impact of her bad budget decisions,” said Appropriations Committee Member Lela Alston, D-Phoenix (District 15). “Her budget is irresponsible.”

By contrast, the Democrat budget is aligned with the priorities of the people of Arizona. It includes spending:
o $145 million for education over three years
o $135 million for health in ongoing spending starting in fiscal year 2013
o $22 million for state parks and tourism over three years

The Democrat budget ends with a $220 million shortfall which is less than the legislative budget that is estimated at $225 million in 2015 and far less than the governor’s budget which is $540 million.

“We spent a considerable amount of time working on a balanced budget," Campbell said. "There was no feasible way to do that because Tea Party lawmakers continue to insist on corporate bailouts and refuse to close tax loopholes."

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