FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Jan. 12, 2018
Contact: Robbie Sherwood
PHOENIX, State Capitol – Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs (D-24) and House Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios (D-27) released this statement on Gov. Ducey's budget proposal issued today:
"A state budget is a statement of values. And while there are some steps in the right direction, it is also clear that Governor Ducey's values remain out of step with Arizonans from all walks of life and every corner of the state who are demanding significantly more investment in public education and our state's infrastructure to strengthen our economy. Arizonans want more for our kids and they tell us they are willing to pay for it. Democrats will provide more detailed analysis as we spend more time with the governor's plan, but here are three initial takeaways:
· The Governor is fishing for accolades from parents and the education community, but his budget still leaves Arizona nearly $1 billion short of what's needed to adequately fund our public education system. He helped create the teacher exodus crisis with his education funding cuts, and what little money he's finally adding back will not move the needle to convince those teachers to return. Also, it's irresponsible not to consider solutions now for the looming fiscal cliff when Proposition 301 ends in 2021. Arizonans see through the smoke and mirrors and have told us, loudly, that they want more for our kids and our economy. Democrats will fight for that.
· The governor has finally acknowledged it was a mistake to fire all but a handful of corporate tax auditors. His budget only replaces half of them, which could result in an additional $25 million collected. We are glad that the governor listened to our recommendations and is putting some of the referees back on the field to reduce the incentives to cheat that have led to a staggering drop in corporate tax collections.
· But the governor takes no steps to reduce the cost of attending universities or community colleges for Arizona residents – in fact he reduces university funding by another $7 million. But he keeps the millions of dollars set aside in the budget for the Koch brothers' ideologically driven "freedom schools" at Arizona State University and University of Arizona. Arizona has more acute needs and better uses for these funds."
Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs (LD24):
"There's no new revenue in this budget to significantly move the needle on repairing our aging schools and stopping teachers from leaving the profession. Like an arsonist firefighter, the Governor helped create the crisis and now wants to be treated as a hero for beginning to fix it. The reality is this budget avoids addressing tough questions about our future and will not solve our crisis. We have the opportunity this year to repair years of fiscal neglect and chart a path toward a future where state revenues are stable and sustainable, our economy thrives from home-grown businesses that employ a highly skilled workforce, and our schools have the resources and qualified teachers necessary to ensure our children are prepared to succeed. Sadly, the governor's budget misses that opportunity in favor of keeping the status quo."
House Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios (LD27):
"While there are steps in the right direction, the governor's budget falls far short of what Arizona needs to fund our public schools and to stop the teacher shortage crisis. The Governor wants to be hailed as a savior but he is only partially replacing what he has cut. We still provide less money for students than we did a decade ago. There's nothing in this proposal that changes that fact. There's nothing in this proposal that lifts us out of the bottom of school funding nationally. And this will not change the fact we have among the lowest paid teachers in the nation."