Tuesday, May 01, 2012

House Democrats stand up for the priorities of Arizonans during budget fight

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today as Tea Party lawmakers push through a bait-and-switch budget at the legislature, House Democrats are standing up for the priorities of Arizonans.

“We aren’t going to let this go silently into the night,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14), said. “The Republican Budget demonstrates no long-term vision for the economic stability of the state. Their funding priorities are misplaced. We need to focus on creating jobs. This budget deal with the governor doesn’t create a single job.”

Instead of investing in jobs and education, the Republican Budget hoards money in a rainy day fund, adds $60 million in more tax loopholes, leaves vital programs unfunded and still sticks the state with a deficit in fiscal year 2015.

House Democrats fought to include Arizonans’ priorities in the budget with amendments to:

· Invest $50 million in school districts for textbooks and supplies (Meyer Amendment to HB 2852).

· Invest $5 million in the Arizona Department of Education’s adult education program (Farley Amendment to HB 2852).

· Stop the $50 million sweep of the Attorney General’s Mortgage Settlement Fund that was created to help families hit hardest by the mortgage crisis (McCune Davis Amendment to HB 2852).

· Invest $7 million in KidsCare and lift the program’s enrollment cap (Tovar Amendment to HB 2857).

· Fund a provider rate increase for hospitals and health care service providers that will create and retain jobs in this industry, especially in areas of rural Arizona (Pancrazi Amendment to HB 2852).

· Invest $7 million in Arizona State Parks for capital projects, including waste water projects required by Arizona Department of Economic Quality (Chabin Amendment to HB 2853).

· Restore the funding formula for the Arizona Office of Tourism at no cost to the general fund (Hobbs Amendment to HB 2855).

· Allow funding for tribal community colleges at no cost to the general fund (Hale Amendment to HB 2859).

· Reinstate the requirement to review and evaluate private prisons and repeal the provision for new contracts for private prisons (Campbell Amendment to HB 2860).

“Each of these amendments is intended to do at least one of three things: create jobs, improve education or help working families,” House Minority Whip Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson (District 13), said. “Arizonans deserve better than what the Republican Budget has to offer.”

Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley, D-Tucson (District 28), said there are several ways to ensure the state has the money to pay for their proposed amendments.

“It’s really simple,” Farley said. “All the Tea Party lawmakers need to do is stop additional funding for private prisons, stop the $60 million in corporate bailouts, stop swiping money from programs that help families and stop hoarding money. If we invest in education and jobs now, we won't have to build prisons later.”

Tea Party legislators blocked all of these amendments.

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