Thursday, April 30, 2009

Republican Budget Terms Glossary

The Republican Joint Budget Proposal released several days ago contained some terms that sanitized the true impact that will occur if a particular cut occurs. Enter the Republican Budget Terms Glossary. In this nifty little guide, you will find what each budget line really meant. We all understand there need to be sacrifices, but Arizonans deserve to know exactly what each of these items really cut. We should also note that the consequences of each of these items are from Republican-produced items.

Republican Budget Terms Glossary

Annualization: Everything we cut in the last budget is going away forever. We have concluded that you did not really need it after all.

FRAT/Reduction, Public Safety Equipment: We are taking all the money that DPS uses to buy bulletproof vests and other safety equipment for its officers. But, we will continue to say that we are standing up for public safety.

Garage Fund Transfer, DPS – DNA Identification System: DNA testing will take much longer, which means that we will not catch criminals in a timely manner.

Inflator, Education 2 Percent: We are trying to make ourselves look good by giving $8 million to public schools. We hope you will not figure out that according to the law that you voted for, it should really be $110 million.

Lost Federal Funds: We do not even talk about this because we do not want you to know that by cutting state money from programs as we propose, the state also loses federal money. Our current budget will cause the following:
*30% increase in deadbeat parents who don’t pay child support.
*8,000 older Arizonans forced out of their homes.
*10,000 fewer homeless shelter beds.
*9,000 abused women and children with no place to go.
*3,000 families unable to pay utility bills.
*Childcare assistance lost for an additional 30,000 families.

Lump Sum: This is where we hide cuts we do not want to tell you about in advance because we do not want to hear you whine about it.
AHCCCS Lump Sum: We know that you told us there is not much left to cut, but we are taking all that we can get.

Department of Corrections/Juvenile Corrections Lump Sum: We are going to give correctional officers two weeks less paid training before sending them into our understaffed, overcrowded prisons. And, we’re taking back those pay raises we gave two years ago. Thanks for your service!

Department of Economic Security Lump Sum: See “Lost Federal Funds”

Department of Health Services Lump Sum: We are reducing or eliminating funding for public health programs such as disease outbreaks in the middle of a public health crisis. We are also making it more difficult for the uninsured to get necessary health care, and eliminate healthcare services for 1,200 chronically ill children.

Department of Revenue Lump Sum: We think that taxes are too high, so we cut 297 employees so the state cannot find you if you do not pay. This also means that the state will not have the staff to go after the $240 million in delinquent corporate taxes.

Education Lump Sum: We are cutting hundreds of millions from public education, causing permanent teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and compromising school safety. Physical education, fine arts and sports will be first on the block. However, we will continue to use the talking point that we want what is best for Arizona’s children.

Universities Lump Sum: Our students do not pay enough in tuition. We want them to pay more, so that they have a greater sense of pride about their degree. Let’s take $40 million so universities have to increase it.

Reduce Childcare Funding: Eliminate childcare assistance for 4,000 children and give up $33 million in federal stimulus money. Children will be left in unsafe situations and parents will lose jobs.

Reduce Children’s Support Services: These services are supports for families involved in the CPS system and reunification services for families who have had a child removed from the home. More children will go into foster homes because 10,000 children will lose these in-home services.

Sweeps, University Tuition and Fee: Not only are we raising tuition; we are also sweeping $90 million in existing tuition and fee revenues, so you will have to pay higher fees and more for textbooks, too!

TANF Recipients: Children. Seventy-five percent of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families caseload is children.

TANF Recipients, Drug testing: We want to save money by testing your children for drugs.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sen. Landrum Taylor and Faith Leaders Hold Press Conference and Rally Thursday

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Sen. Landrum Taylor and concerned faith community leaders will hold a press conference and rally on the State Capitol Senate Lawn on Thursday, April 30 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Tomorrow’s rally will focus on faith leaders’ involvement for the long haul and to express how unacceptable it is to further disparage children and the elderly in budget proposals.

Date: Thursday, April 30, 2009
Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Press Conference will start at 11 a.m.)
Location: Arizona Senate Lawn, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, Ariz.

Last week, legislators met with faith leaders and congregations to discuss possible solutions of how congregations can assist in the midst of this state budget crisis and solutions for those in congregations needing of assistance.

Media Contact:
Jeanette Tejeda de Gomez, Director of Communication
Senate Democratic Caucus
602-926-4477,
jtejeda@azleg.gov
www.azsenatedemocrats.com

Monday, April 27, 2009

Republican Joint Draft Budget Proposal Part 2

Here is the whole 30 page budget document the Republicans released on Monday. The previous post is just the front page. 

For FY 2010, the budget proposal's main points are $989 million in federal stimulus dollars, $670 million in agency cuts, $394 in fund transfers, $300 million in sweeps from school districts and $210 from municipal impact fees. For FY 2009, the budget proposal includes using $497 million in federal stimulus dollars. 

Current estimates are that nearly $600 million of the cuts are to K-12 education. 

Tomorrow's Senate Appropriations hearing that was scheduled to hear the budget bills has been cancelled in lieu of a Joint Appropriations hearing tomorrow afternoon to discuss municipal impact fees. Here is one report from the East Valley Tribune filed tonight regarding the budget and impact fees. 

More tomorrow. 

Republican Budget Proposal Released

The Senate and House Republicans released a joint budget proposal after 5 p.m. today. Here is the document that was posted to the House Republican Caucus website.







GOP sends message to the poor─ excel in athletics if you want to go to college

Republicans are planning to make attending college for students from low-income families even more difficult, unless you are a student athlete.

Republicans are planning to charge students whose families make less than $40,000 at least $1,000 a year in tuition, according to an Arizona Guardian interview with Rep. John Kavanagh (“GOP plan would charge state's poorest more money to attend college,” April 27). Students whose families currently make less than $40,000 a year qualify to have tuition waived. The big kicker is that the GOP proposal exempts students on athletic scholarships.

A number of universities nationwide waive tuition and some waive tuition, room and board in order to help level the playing field for students from low-income families. These students were smart enough to get into a university, so why are the Republicans trying to shut them out?

The more troubling part is that it is not just about the money, which amounts to about $10 million a year─ a drop in the budget deficit bucket. It is out of spite.

"It's the principal of it," he (Rep. Kavanagh) said. "It's unfair. Why should these students get to go to school for free just because their families are poor?"
A measure such as this shows that the Republican majority would rather give hundreds of millions in corporate tax breaks rather than make attending a university possible for students from low-income families. We all know that gaining a college degree can open doors for better careers so that future generations will also succeed. This is truly kicking Arizona’s poor while they are down.

Students, here is your notice from the GOP: If you want to go to college in Arizona, but cannot afford it, make sure to dust off those sneakers ASAP.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Legislature Passes Bills to Assist Arizonans

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Senate Democrats are thrilled that AHCCCS redetermination and unemployment benefit extension bills passed the Senate and the House today and will now go to the Governor for her signature. Yesterday, Senate Democrats voted unanimously to pass this legislation that will help Arizonans who have been laid off in this difficult economic time and to make a change that will help qualify Arizona for stimulus dollars.

“This is a victory in the fight to help people who need assistance through this difficult economic time. Passing this legislation will help Arizonans and the economy when this money is spent in our state,” said Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia, Senate Democrat Leader.

Extending unemployment benefits by an additional 13 weeks helps out Arizonans who have been unable to locate work in the current 26 week window. The extension is set to sunset once stimulus funds are exhausted. This will immediately assist approximately 5,600 people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. [KPHO, April 23, 2009]

At a press conference on April 15, Senate Democrats called attention to the $6,400 a week the state was facing in fines for not aligning with federal maintenance of effort standards. Democrats asked Senate President Burns for permission to introduce a bill they had already drafted that would make this change since every day that the Legislature did nothing, the state incurred another $6,400.00. That means, in the 3 weeks since the state drew down this money, the Legislature has already wasted approximately $135,000.

“This change aligns Arizona with federal maintenance of effort standards, which qualifies us for approximately $1.7 billion in stimulus dollars that we need. It brings much needed health care dollars to Arizona’s children and families,” said Sen. Rebecca Rios, Senate Assistant Democratic Leader.

The bills will take effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

REMINDER: Sen. Landrum Taylor Hosting Faith Based Budget Briefing Thursday

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor (D-16) will be hosting a faith based budget briefing Thursday, April 23 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the State Capitol. Legislators will meet with faith leaders and congregations to discuss possible solutions of how congregations can assist in the midst of this state budget crisis and solutions for those in congregations needing of assistance.

Date: Thursday, April 23, 2009
Time: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Location: Senate Building, Senate Hearing Room 2& 3, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, Ariz.

Members of the public interested in attending should contact Senator Leah Landrum Taylor’s office at (602) 926-5864.

Bills Senate Democrats Pushed Pass Senate

Today, Senate Democrats unanimously voted to pass SB 1102 (AHCCCS eligibility redetermination) and SB 1322 (unemployment insurance benefits) out of the Senate.

Last week, Senate Democrats called attention to the necessity to move quickly on the AHCCCS redetermination measure as the state is potentially losing $6,400 per day that it does nothing. This equates to over $135,000 already wasted. The bill changes the redetermination period for childless adults to twelve months to correct a violation of federal stimulus maintenance of effort guidelines. Without this bill, Arizona would put $1.7 billion in federal stimulus dollars at risk. The Senate vote was 24 ayes, 4 and 2 not voting. The nays were Sens. Gould, Harper, Huppenthal and Pearce.

SB 1322 provides an additional 13 to 20 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits while the state is under a high level of unemployment. This provision expires when the federal stimulus dollars expire or the week ending Dec. 12, whichever is later. The Senate vote was 27 ayes and 1 nay. The nay was Sen. Gould.

The House will hear identical bills tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Legislative Democrats to Hold South Phoenix Budget Hearing

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Legislative Democrats invite members of the public to a budget hearings in South Phoenix, the 18th in a series of hearings held statewide. Members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees will be in attendance to hear citizens’ concerns of the deep cuts in the state budget. Members of the public are encouraged to attend, voice their concerns and ask questions.

When: Tuesday, April 28, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: South Mountain Community College, 7050 S. 24th St., Phoenix, Ariz. 85042, PAC Lecture Room 740


UPDATE: Bills to Help Arizonans pass Senate Committee

SB 1102 (AHCCCS eligibility redetermination) and SB 1322 (unemployment insurance benefits) both passed out of the Senate Commerce and Economic Development committee this afternoon. Both bills are scheduled to be heard by the Senate Rules committee tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. and in Caucus at 9:45 a.m.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It is day 100 and what is your legislature doing?

Yes, you read it correctly. Today marks 100 days that the legislature has been in session.

Still no FY 2010 budget, but we are hearing two bills in the Senate Commerce and Economic Development committee that will help the state obtain federal stimulus dollars.

SB 1102 is regarding AHCCCS eligibility redetermination, which will address a change that was made in the budget in 2008. Last week, Democrats called attention to the $6,400 a week the state is facing in fines for not changing the redetermination period for childless adults from current 6-month period back to the 12-month period. Keeping the 6-month period is a violation of ARRA's Maintenance of Effort requirements. Every day that the Legislature does nothing, the state incurs another $6,400.00. That means, in the 3 weeks since the state drew down this money, the Legislature has potentially already wasted approximately $135,000.

SB 1322 is regarding unemployment insurance benefits. This bill would provide an additional 13 to 20 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits while the state is under a high level of unemployment. This provision expires when the federal stimulus dollars expire or the week ending Dec. 12, whichever is later.

The bills will be heard today at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Commerce and Economic Development committee.






Faith Based Budget Briefing Thursday

Come and Hear the Options on the Table

WHAT: Faith Based Budget Briefing

WHERE: Capitol Mall, Senate Building, SHR 2& 3, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ

WHEN: Thursday, April 23, 2009, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

WHO: Legislators, Faith Leaders, Congregations

CONTACT: Senator Leah Landrum Taylor’s Office, (602) 926-5864


• Possible Solutions of How Congregations Can Assist in the Midst of this State Budget Crisis

• Solutions for Those in Your Congregations Needing of Assistance

Sen. Aguirre to Host Mental Health Provider Summit in Yuma

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Sen. Amanda Aguirre (D-24), a member of the Governor's Team on Mental Health, will be hosting a mental health provider summit on April 24 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Community Intervention Associates in Tuscany Plaza at 2851 S. Avenue B, Building #4, Yuma, Ariz. Mental health providers from Yuma and La Paz counties are encouraged to attend.

When: April 24, 2009 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Community Intervention Associates,
Tuscany Plaza, 2851 S. Avenue B, Building #4, Yuma, Ariz.

“As part of the Governor’s team on mental health, it is vital to communicate directly with providers to help look for ways to provide mental health services to Yuma and La Paz counties,” said Sen. Amanda Aguirre (D-24). “I encourage providers to attend and share their ideas for me to take back to the rest of the team.”

Sen. Aguirre is the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Health Committee and was appointed to the newly developed Governor’s Team on Mental Health by Governor Jan Brewer.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Legislative Democrats to hold budget hearing in Window Rock & Ajo

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Legislative Democrats invite members of the public to a budget hearings in Window Rock and Ajo, the 16th and 17th of a series of hearings held statewide.

Members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees will be in attendance to hear citizens’ concerns of the deep cuts in the state budget.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend, voice their concerns and ask questions.

When: Monday, April 20, 5 to 7 p.m.
Where: Window Rock High School Auditorium, Route 12, Fort Defiance, Ariz. 86504

When: Monday, April 20th, 7 - 9 p.m.
Where: Ajo Parks and Recreation Center, 290 West 5th Street, Ajo, AZ 85321

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Legislative Inaction Costing the State

Around the Legislature, Republicans like to talk about “protecting taxpayer money” or about “eliminating wasteful spending.” But here on tax day, when they are holding tea parties around the state, those same Republicans are wasting another $6,400. What am I talking about? I am talking about the daily interest penalty that the state is incurring for every day that the Legislature sits around and does nothing toward changing the redetermination period for childless adults from current 6 month period back to a 12 month period.

As part of the Federal Stimulus Package, Arizona received a lifeline to our $3 billion budget hole. A key component of that was the increase in the federal medical assistance percentage or FMAP monies the state received. Specifically, Arizona can potentially draw down approximately $1.6 billion through an enhanced FMAP though 2010.

However, in order to be eligible for these enhanced Medicaid dollars, the federal stimulus included a “maintenance of effort (MOE)” provision that prohibited states from enacting “eligibility standards, methodologies or procedures” that are more restrictive than those in effect on July, 1 2008.

In March, AHCCCS received its first draw of enhanced FMAP in the amount of approximately $286 million. Around that same time, the federal government notified AHCCCS that the redetermination included in the original FY09 budget passed last June violated the MOE provision of the federal stimulus bill.

On March 20th, Governor Brewer wrote the letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking it to reconsider this decision. In a letter to Governor Brewer dated April 2nd, the HHS affirmed its support of the original CMS decision that the change in the redetermination period put Arizona out of compliance with MOE provisions which disqualified Arizona for the increased FMAP monies.

The good news is that we still have time to change the redetermination period as long as it is done before July 1, 2009. The bad news is that we are probably going to be charged interest penalties on the $286 million in FMAP that we have already drawn down until we comply with the MOE requirements.

So, every day that the Legislature does nothing, the state incurs another $6,400.00.
That means, in the 3 weeks since the State drew down this money, the Legislature has already wasted approximately $135,000.

And the worst part about this is that we all know that whatever budget comes out, the redetermination issues will be fixed because the state has to have this money.

So why aren’t we fixing it. I don’t know. You will have to ask the Republicans. Democrats are tired of sitting around waiting for the Republicans to act.

Today, I will ask President Burns to allow the late introduction of a bill to fix this issue. It is a simple change.

And it is about time that Legislature stopped sitting around. We can solve this problem today and we can stop needlessly wasting taxpayer money by acting on this very simple change. We need every dollar we have and we cannot sit around while thousands of dollars a day are being wasted.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Legislative Democrats to hold Tucson Town Hall Saturday

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson (District 28), Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson (District 28) and Rep. David Bradley, D-Tucson (District 28) will host a town hall meeting with constituents on Saturday.

The public is encouraged to voice their questions, comments and concerns directly to their legislators.

Aboud, Farley and Bradley said people across the state have questions about issues that matter to them — the state budget, jobs, education, health care — and they share those concerns and look forward to discussing them in an open forum.

When: Saturday, April 18, 3 to 4:30 p.m.
Where: Himmel Park, Grassy Hill, 1000 N. Tucson Blvd., Tucson, Ariz., 85716

Superintendent Horne: Need to save money on ELL? Stop Asking So Many Questions

In order to save money in our public schools, Senate Democrats have recently learned, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne is removing tools that districts use to identify potential English Language Learners.

Superintendent Horne has previously told the Legislature that by working with school districts, he would be able to reduce the additional dollars required for ELL instruction from the roughly $40.6 million appropriated in FY2009, to slightly less than $9 million in FY2010.

This week, Senate Democrats learned how this was achieved. On March 12, Superintendent Horne sent a letter to districts essentially ordering them to ask fewer questions when assessing whether a pupil speaks a language other than English. Such a pupil is classified in educational parlance as PHLOTE (Primary Home Language Other Than English). The process is simple: Ask fewer questions, and you do not get as many ELL students.

Currently, schools ask a child’s parent three questions to determine primary home language:

  • What is the primary language used in the home regardless of the language spoken by the student?
  • What is the language most often spoken by the student?
  • What is the language that the student first acquired?

If the answer to any of these three questions is not “English,” then the child is given a test to determine if they are in fact proficient in English. If so, then no further action is taken. If not, then the child is classified as an ELL student and taught English.

At Mr. Horne’s direction, the new test for primary language will be a single question:

  • What is the primary language of the student?

At this point, the primary home language survey is no longer a survey. A survey establishes a pattern. Three questions comprise a survey. A single question hinges a child’s receipt of services on whether or not a parent gets the answer “right.” If the question is not answered “correctly,” a child may sit in a classroom for weeks, months, or longer before a teacher realizes that the reason he or she is not doing well is because they don’t understand what is going on. A child could be misdiagnosed as special needs and given the wrong services or worse, if the child is middle or high-school age, stop showing up altogether.

Mr. Horne’s primary responsibility as Superintendent of Public Instruction is to ensure that all children in Arizona are given access to a system that allows them to succeed. He should be fighting to preserve these services. Instead, he has diminished access to services for a politically unpopular population of students in order to achieve some savings and score some quick political points with the Republican leadership of the Legislature. These are children. Not political pawns. He needs to get his priorities straight.

Sen. Aguirre Appointed to Bi-Partisan Mental Health Team

Sen. Amanda Aguirre (D-24) was appointed by Gov. Jan Brewer to a bi-partisan mental health team in order to address structural behavioral reform. The group includes the Governor and ranking members of the two legislative health committees.

“I am pleased that I’ve been asked to participate in this group to help look for ways to provide mental health services to Arizonans, district 24 and rural areas. Adequate mental health services are especially important in rural areas because of increased transportation issues to find providers,” said Sen. Amanda Aguirre (D-24). “We also need to focus on prevention services. Failure to provide preventative services only resurfaces as added costs to families and our communities.”

Sen. Aguirre is the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Health Committee and brings 25 years of involvement in public health education and administration to the table.

The group is set to meet through the beginning of May.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Public Budget Forum in Mesa

POSTPONED

Will Announce New Date ASAP

Legislative Democrats invite members of the public to a budget hearing on Thursday in Mesa, the 16th in a series of statewide hearings.

When: Thursday, April 16, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Mesa Community College, Library and High Technology Center (Building 11, Room 145), 1833 W. Southern Ave., Mesa, Ariz. 85202

Free parking available at Northwest Parking Lot A, located on Southern Avenue and Dobson Road.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Children, CPS Workers Call for Reinstatement of CPS Funds
















Today, a group of children and Child Protective Services workers delivered 16,000 letters to the Capitol regarding CPS cuts. The letters call on members to restore the CPS cuts and explain potential impacts of the cuts.

From the Senate, Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia, Democratic Minority Leader, accepted a packet of letters and has already started to read them. The group will be delivering letters to the Governor and members of the Senate and the House.

The Republican budget fix approved in January caused layoffs of 112 CPS workers of the estimated 1,344 people laid off and the additional 27,865 people furloughed.

Here is a link to SEIU's coverage of the press conference, which includes several more pictures.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Give us the staff and we'll give you a budget

Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia
Senate Democratic Leader


Yesterday, a number of our colleagues questioned whether or not Senate Democrats were solid in their support of the budget strategies that we released on February 24 and encouraged us to draft budget legislation. The stated implication was that there would not be 12 votes for the legislation.

Our good friends from the media jumped on the idea and conveyed to us that should Senate Democrats be interested in pursuing this option, that Chairman Pearce had all but guaranteed that any such plan would move out of committee. Now the media drama was back on the Senate Dems.

After consultation with our trusted advisors, it was decided that the resources required to accomplish this task would be an inefficient exercise. In other words, the Democrats would need the JLBC Director and his staff’s assistance in putting together a budget and then Leg Council would need to draft language. However, if the President would commit to providing us with the JLBC and Legislative Council staff support required to draft a budget, we will start drafting. But I know that is not going to happen and I know that 12 is not 16, so we decided to improvise.

On your desk is a copy of the budget strategies that were released to the press and the public on February 24. The approach we took was to identify “revenues strategies” that would prevent additional cuts to state services and were designed to provide alternatives to massive cuts that will hurt Arizona citizens. Should any member wish a narrative description, I will provide it. What you have is our first list, we have compiled a second one and we are prepared to put that list forward should it be needed.

So Mr. President and members, I am here to announce that I am one of twelve that whole heartedly supports the Senate Democrats budget strategies. And I do so because I am of firm conviction that the “fat” has long ago been removed from Arizona’s services and I don’t want to cut into the bone.

Monday, April 6, 2009

REMINDER: Legislative Democrats to hold budget hearings this week

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Legislative Democrats invite members of the public to budget hearings this week, the 14th and 15th in a series of hearings that will be held statewide.

Appropriations committee members will be in attendance to hear citizens’ concerns of the deep cuts to the state’s budget. Members of the public are invited to attend to share their comments, concerns and questions.

When: Monday, April 6, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Where: Maryvale Church of the Nazarene, 3201 N. 51st Ave., Phoenix, Ariz. 85031

When: Wednesday, April 8, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Anthem Community Center, 41130 N. Freedom Way, Anthem, Ariz. 85086

Friday, April 3, 2009

Draft Republican Budget Proposal

Here is the Senate Republican budget that the media reported on this week. The budget document is a large PDF file and will take a minute to download.

Senate Draft (19 pages)















You will note that this draft does not completely address the shortfall. Instead, Republicans decided to compile a list of the ideas to address the shortfall, which they say came from legislators, advocacy groups and the public.

Here are some items directly from the list compiled by Republicans:

- Cities - take anything we can
- Shift Parks to cities and counties
- Move prisons to Mexico
- Scrap All Day K
- Uncover K-12 teachers temporarily so districts can hire/fire who they want
- Suspend mandated bus service to transport students
- Reduce Medicaid: Cap the number of visits for routine care
- Privatize Mental Hospital
- Eliminate Homeland Security
- Count entire household income for benefits>run MVD/tax reporting/voter reg address against welfare roles to determine household income and catch live-in fathers who are not married to mothers

Click here to see the whole list.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Legislative Democrats to hold public budget hearing in Northeast Arizona

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Legislative Democrats invite members of the public to a budget hearing Chinle, Arizona, in a series of hearings that will be held statewide.

Sen. Albert Hale (D-2) will be present along with members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees to hear citizens’ concerns of the deep cuts to the state’s budget. Members of the public are invited to attend to share their comments and concerns.


Date: Friday, April 3
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Chinle Wildcat Den (Gymnasium) located at Chinle High School, Highway 191 and Navajo Route 7

Next Week at the Legislature

Agendas posted as of Thursday afternoon:

Senate Committees meeting:
Judiciary, Monday at 1:30 p.m.
Natural Resources, Infrastructure and Public Debt, Monday at 1:30 p.m.
Commerce and Economic Development, Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.
Veterans and Military Affairs, Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

Senate Committees not meeting:
Appropriations
Education Accountability and Reform
Public Safety and Human Services
Retirement and Rural Development

*Click for meeting agenda

More on Senate Democratic Budget Strategies

On February 24, the Senate Democrats released a list of budget strategies as an alternative to making more cuts to the budget.

Click HERE for the full list.

Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia elaborated on the strategies in the Arizona Republic's Viewpoints on March 29 in his editorial, Arizona's Want Varied Strategies.

Arizonans want varied strategies

Jorge Luis Garcia, Senate Democratic Leader
Mar. 29, 2009

Senate Democrats announced budget strategies for fiscal 2010 totaling $3.5 billion after hearing from Arizonans. The message from Arizonans is clear: They want to know other strategies aside from more spiteful cuts and tax increases championed by the Republicans.

Our strategies include using the federal stimulus, securitizing revenue streams and eliminating tax credits. These options exist now.

Democrats are not opposed to making tough choices, but tough choices need to be made based on solid information, not rhetoric or ideological positions. Budgeting during this recession cannot lose sight of our need to educate our children for Arizona's future. That is not being considered.

As we review Arizona's fiscal realities, raising taxes is not the first answer, and neither is slashing programs.

Gov. Jan Brewer expected to get votes from Democrats on a tax increase, but it is not always the best place to go right away. In addition, voters have already approved an additional tax to provide education.

Why should we second-guess the voters and try to change that?

In fact, many of the voter-protected items are education-related. It is contradictory for Republicans to ask voters to cut basic education state aid and
health care while saying that they want to protect it.

Democrats released our proposals to address Arizona's deficit. We have offered our assistance, and we will continue to offer our assistance. When asked to participate, we will participate not as a last-chance option but as equal partners.

Arizonans deserve nothing less.

Today at the Legislature

Today, the legislature is debating two bills to change Arizona's tax withholding rate to adjust for the federal rate's recent adjustment. The language is strike-everything amendments to SB 1185 and HB 2082. Currently, the two rates are dependent on one another.

The Department of Revenue contends that without this emergency measure, the state stands to lose $73 million in FY '09 and $37 million in FY '10.
[Go here for more coverage by the East Valley Tribune.]

The Senate has suspended the rules in order to hear SB 1185 and the Appropriations committee voted to pass it minutes ago. What should have been a ten-minute Senate Appropriations committee turned into a lengthy discussion over tax credits when Sen. Harper offered a committee amendment to repeal public school tax credits and tax credits to charities that assist the working poor. The amendment failed with only Sens. Harper and Gould voting for it.

The Senate will hear the bill on the floor today at 1 p.m.

Update: The Senate bill with the strike-everything amendment passed Third Read with the emergency clause. There were no additional amendments offered on the floor.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Students Receive Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus Scholarships

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix Members of the Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus and Governor Jan Brewer awarded 11 Academic Scholarship Awards during a presentation on March 31, 2009 in the Governor's Office.

“Due to the economic climate the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus decided to focus on the academic scholarships and will be awarding 11 scholarships to high school and college students in honor of the life and legacy of César E. Chávez,” said Sen. Richard Miranda, Co-Chair of the Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus.

Governor Jan Brewer will join co-chairs Representative Ben Miranda and Senator Richard Miranda and Caucus members in presenting the scholarships to the students. The Caucus has awarded over $50,000 in the past seven years to students who showed leadership in their schools and communities, a desire to continue their education, and a financial need.

The scholarship recipients are from throughout Arizona and they plan to further their education at community colleges as well as the major colleges including University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.

This year, the Caucus chose to honor César E. Chávez entirely through scholarships instead of awarding fewer scholarships and holding an annual event at the Capitol.

The recipients are:
Claudia Ariosa- Tucson
Manuel Castro- Phoenix
Christine Cordova- Tolleson
Carissa Cortez- Phoenix
Nicole Esquivel- Tucson
Brandon Garms- Tucson
Franceli Gutierrez- Phoenix
Salvador Macias- Phoenix
Jesus Nuñez- Yuma
Angel Olvera- Mammoth
Arturo Vargas- Phoenix