PRESS RELEASE: 'Devil's in the Details', Democratic Leaders Respond to Ducey Budget Plan
Updated: Mar 9, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan 17, 2020
PHOENIX, State Capitol - Senate Democratic Leader David Bradley and House Democratic Leader Charlene Fernandez released the following statements on Gov. Ducey's budget proposal issued today:
Senate Democratic Leader David Bradley, D-Tucson:
"From 20,000 feet it looks a lot like a budget we could support, however the devil is in the details and we look forward to seeing those details. Governor Ducey's budget includes many items for which Democrats have been advocating for years, like full restoration of District and Charter Additional Assistance and increased funding for the School Facilities Board, school counselors and childcare for working families," said Senator Bradley. "However, the executive budget does leave some areas of critical need ignored, especially after we've seen state government hollowed out over the last decade. The homeless crisis must be addressed and our most effective means of doing that is through the state's Housing Trust Fund. We must also ensure our vulnerable adults receive adequate care by increasing our human service provider rate. So long as there are no more massive tax cuts or other such budgetary poison pills for Democrats, we are ready to work with the governor and the majority in finding solutions to the many needs of our state."
House Democratic Leader Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma:
"At first glance there is a lot to like in the Governor's budget, as there was last year, including a number of ideas that Democrats have introduced or pushed for years," said Leader Fernandez. "Investment in our schools is moving in the right direction, but we expect more to make our teacher salaries competitive and pull our overall funding out of the national basement. Funding for opioid treatment is an idea we brought to the table. But, again, the devil is in the details. It's important that Democrats are at the table to sort through those details and avoid poison pills that make the plan more difficult to support. This is not a time for another tax cut that no one is asking for, and it's not time to sock away another $25 million in the Rainy Day fund when it has $1 billion now. For our homeless and our vulnerable adults, it's raining right now."
Democrats will provide more detailed analysis and questions as we spend more time with the governor's plan, but initial takeaways include:
- K-12. Fully funding District and Charter Additional Assistance (money for books, computers, instructional materials) with $136 million - mirrors Democratic proposals from last year. Arizona is still ranked 48th un per-pupil funding and the teacher retention and recruitment crisis continues unabated.
-The Rocket Program. Cautiously supportive. Democrats have long advocated for investment and training to boost performance of struggling schools.
-Infrastructure. Some worthwhile projects outlined, including expanded broadband investment in rural Arizona. However, with a $1 billion fund balance there is a capacity to do more.
-Tax cuts. Decades of tax cuts have helped keep Arizona near the bottom in investment in public education and have led to our roads deteriorating from fund sweeps. We shouldn't include tax cuts that nobody asked for, just to say we've cut taxes.
-Combatting homelessness. No new investment in the Housing Trust Fund to help pull struggling Arizonans out of homelessness.
-Vulnerable Adults. Small provider-rate increase for caregivers for developmentally disabled and vulnerable Arizonans are inadequate.
-Climate. Budget doesn't address climate change at all, including no additional surface or groundwater hydrologists when aquifers are being depleted by drought and corporate farms.
-Higher Education. More higher education funding and the New Economy initiatives are encouraging - but Democrats would like to see more effort to make college affordable and to reduce student loan debt.