Monday, August 17, 2009

In Case You Missed It: It's past time to ask Democrats for Help

Sen. Garcia's Op-Ed regarding the budget and session was printed it today's Arizona Daily Star. Here it is again in case you missed it.

It's past time to ask Democrats for help
By Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia
Special to the Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona Published: 08.17.2009


Senate President Bob Burns and Gov. Jan Brewer need to remind themselves how to ask for help, because in order to keep Arizona out of even more extreme financial distress, that's exactly what they need to do.

President Burns' comments in Daniel Scarpinato's article in Thursday's Star are not a good start. In the article, Burns, R-Peoria, asserts that "bringing Democrats into the process would drag the process out even longer."

Apparently, eight months and two weeks is exactly the amount of time required to come up with a state budget. Any more than that and it's just too long. Just another example of the Swiss-watch precision by which the Republican-led Legislature under Burns has been run.
Brewer is no better. By her standards, "continue to work with legislators from both sides of the aisle" means continually asking Democrats to support a flawed Republican budget and a sales-tax increase. The answer to that question has always been and will continue to be "no."

Both Burns and Brewer fail to grasp the fact that Democrats are not here to be disregarded for eight months while Republicans labor under the self-imposed restriction of creating a "majority budget" with only Republican votes, only to come to Democrats at the 11th hour to vote for a budget that we don't agree with and didn't have any input on, because including us would take too long.

Last week Burns announced his continued refusal to negotiate with Democratic leaders, preferring to try to buy individual Democratic votes with pet projects or other political trinkets. He already tried it once, and failed.

It was Republicans' choice to effectively reduce the size of the Legislature to 18 senators and 35 representatives by only including Republicans. When you do that, you make your job more difficult.

Democrats did not choose that path, and we will not encourage it by simply handing over votes for a budget that was formulated without bipartisan input.

Now there is precious little time to negotiate the best budget possible before Arizona really begins to fall apart. We should never have arrived at this place, but unless Brewer is prepared to abandon the prospects of raising additional revenue for Arizona, she will have to veto this budget, and Democrats will have to be asked for our input and ultimately, our support.
We are prepared to do our part to preserve Arizona, but we will not be bullied into supporting something that we don't believe in just because Republicans failed to get the job done on their own.

Their failings are not our responsibility, and we will not apologize for standing up on behalf of Arizona's children, teachers, working poor and vulnerable adults.

We understand that these are tough times, but we can develop a true bipartisan plan that has something for everyone. It just won't have everything for some.

President Burns, Gov. Brewer: Democrats are willing to help. But you have to be willing to put partisanship aside and negotiate in good faith.

Write to Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia at jgarcia@azleg.gov

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