Monday, April 30, 2012

Tea Party legislators selling out for bait-and-switch budget deal with governor

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX –Tea Party lawmakers have sold Arizonans out for a bait-and-switch budget deal with Gov. Jan Brewer.

“This budget shows a lack a vision from the governor and the Republicans,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14), said. “The Democratic Budget focused on promoting the long-term, economic stability for the state. It would have created jobs and improved education. The Republican bait-and-switch budget falls short.”

Assistant Minority Leader Steve Farley, D-Tucson (District 28), said that the Tea Party funding priorities are out of touch with the needs of Arizonans. The Republican bait-and-switch budget hoards money instead of investing it in job creation and education. This leaves vital programs without resources and creates a nearly $150 million shortfall in fiscal year 2015.

“This is just plain irresponsible,” Farley said. “The Republicans are baiting with the promise of savings but all that money has to be used to fill a portion of the huge budget deficit in 2015. That’s the switch. It’s not really savings if they have to use it to pay down the deficit they create in 2015. Even if all of the so-called savings is used, the Republican budget deficit is so large that the state still gets stuck with a shortfall.”

The newly proposed Republican bait-and-switch budget deal:

• Sweeps $50 million from the Arizona Attorney General’s Mortgage Settlement Fund. This is a joint state-federal settlement reached with Arizona and 48 other states, the federal government and the country’s five largest residential mortgage loan servicers who engaged in fraudulent loan services and foreclosure practices. The money is supposed to be used to help families impacted by the foreclosure crisis which is still plaguing Arizona. The state had the highest foreclosure rate in the country last month.

• Ignores a request by the Independent Redistricting Commission for money to cover legal costs the commission incurred when the governor and Republican legislators attempted to oust IRC Chair Colleen Mathis. The courts sided with Mathis and upheld the IRC’s independent process. Now the Office of the Courts is facing $12 million funding sweeps in fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

• Fails to provide a 3 percent inflation adjustment for hospitals or increase supplemental payments for rural hospitals. Arizona hospitals have faced nearly $1 billion in Republican-approved budget cuts during the past few years. These budget cuts increase the cost to patients and jeopardize jobs in the health care system. They also make it more difficult for health care providers, especially in small rural hospitals, to continue to offer services.

• Neglects to restore KidsCare funding, leaving thousands of Arizona children without adequate health care coverage. Arizona is the only state in the country not funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

• Fails to provide funding for the State Parks Department and limits future funding for the Office of Tourism. Both are major job creators in Arizona.

• Repeals the “merit system” laws designed to prevent political patronage during the hiring process for state employees. These laws ensure that state employees are hired based on their qualifications and fired for cause. The budget will only provide pay raises for political appointees and state employees willing to give up merit system rights.

“Their budget deal wasn’t much of a deal,” Campbell said. “It is frivolous to spend money on private prisons and irresponsible tax cuts while KidsCare goes unfunded. If they want to concede to the demands of the governor, that is their prerogative but Arizonans deserve better.”

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