Friday, January 18, 2019

Democratic Leaders Respond to Ducey Budget Plan

PHOENIX, State Capitol – Senate Democratic Leader David Bradley and House Democratic Leader Charlene Fernandez released this statement on Gov. Ducey's budget proposal issued today

"Governor Ducey takes several steps in the right direction with this budget, incorporating a number of Democratic ideas from past sessions. With public sentiment strongly in support of the inspiring Red for Ed movement, and following an election that saw the Republican majority shrink, it's clear the Governor will need Democratic votes to pass his plan. While making moves in the right direction, his budget is still wanting for a sustainable path to fully fund public education, reduce class sizes and bring teacher pay to the national average. We've presented our blueprint for Arizona and this is the governor's blueprint. Now it's time for us to find the common ground where we can get real work done. The key to success for hard-working Arizona families who are counting on us lies in working together, which must begin today, not at the end of an otherwise Republican-only process as it has in years past. It's a new day, we share the same love for our state and its people, so let's get to work."

Democrats will provide more detailed analysis and questions as we spend more time with the governor's plan, but initial takeaways include:

  • K-12. We are happy to see funding for the School Facilities Board shored up and returning new school construction to a three-year model. We applaud another Democratic idea, funding the Teachers Academy to improve recruitment. We must work together to deliver a tangible second step toward retaining existing teachers, to holistically address capital needs and provide a sustainable long-term funding solution.

  • The Rainy Day Fund. With a $1.1 billion available, it is responsible to put a significant portion away in the Rainy Day Fund up to the statutory cap of 7 percent of the general fund (an additional $260 million). But to increase it to $1 billion while the state still has crumbling schools, roads in need of repair and other critical infrastructure needs that will go unmet makes no sense.
  • Charter school reform. Hiring more Charter Board staff is good but will do nothing to stop the corruption, self-dealing and conflicts of interest that have outraged the public unless we also pass true accountability reform. We hope the Governor is ready to work on real reforms, which he shied away from in his State of the State speech.
  • School safety and reducing gun violence. The governor made no policy suggestions to keep weapons of mass murder out of dangerous hands. His proposal puts the majority of "school safety" funds toward school resource officers rather than counselors and social workers. The funds should be combined so that schools may apply for the best-suited solution for their students.

Senate Democratic Leader David Bradley, D-Tucson:

“There are many things in this budget that reflect the Democratic ideals we’ve espoused over the years, so we’re thankful. It’s also good that Governor Ducey understands that the economy moves in cycles and is willing to save for the next downturn. But there are critical needs facing the state, not in his budget, that would be more cost effective to address now rather than squirrel away into the Rainy Day Fund. You don’t save money by not fixing a leaky roof because you’ll eventually have to pay to have the whole roof replaced later.

“Let’s work together to find long-term sustainable funding for education, social services, public safety and infrastructure so we can put the days of budget gimmicks behind us. To do that we must be willing to put all revenue sources on the table, starting with the billions we give away in corporate tax cuts.”

House Democratic Leader Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma:

"This budget contains many Democratic proposals from past years – like increasing childcare subsidies, covering tuition for National Guard members, restoring cuts to career and technical education, and increasing school counselors for example – so it seems like this past election has impacted the Governor's thinking. However, we still don't see a clear second step to reducing the teacher retention crisis, and no restoration of cuts to our community colleges and universities. That will hold back our long-term economic competitiveness. And his proposal to add more investigators to the Charter School Board will mean nothing if we don't also reform the procurement irregularities, self-dealing and conflicts of interest at the same time. We are ready to work with the Governor to improve and move this plan forward. We should start right away because he will need Democratic votes to pass it."


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