Saturday, December 19, 2009

Statement from Senate Democratic Leader Jorge Luis Garcia on Passage of Budget Cuts

“Today, the Legislature passed and will send to the Governor a bill that will cut $200 million from the state’s budget. I could not in good conscience vote for this bill because it does not reflect the priorities of our citizens.

“The Republican Legislature has continued to protect their Republicans friends, such as the State Treasurer and Secretary of State, as they have not taken any budget cuts. Instead, they chose to dramatically cut the Attorney General's office, which protects Arizonans against financial fraud and border crime and programs like child abuse prevention and high risk perinatal programs. In addition, this bill ensures that half of the states parks will close.

“As we get ready for the Regular Session January 11, I continue to hope that both parties can sit down to address this fiscal crisis with a bipartisan spirit because this situation is only going to get worse before it gets any better. With federal funds for education rapidly running thin, we must be creative and comprehensive in planning for the state’s future as to not erect great barriers in educational opportunities for generations to come.”

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fifth Special Session First Day Wrap Up

Last night, Republicans in the State Senate voted to cut another $200 million from the state budget. This includes a 7.5% cut to some state agencies and up to a 5% pay cut for state employees. To date over 1,600 state employees have been laid off and over 27,000 have been furloughed. Thousands more were laid off because of state-related contracts. We do not yet know the complete effect of this bill or how many more will be laid off as a result of this bill.

Sen. Rebecca Rios offered an amendment to restore the cuts to the Attorney General's office to help the state continue to protect Arizonans against financial fraud and border crime. While the Attorney General's office has been cut tremendously, other Republican elected officials such as the State Treasurer and Secretary of State have not taken cuts. All Democrats voted vote it and all Republicans voted against it.

Sen. Rios also offered an amendment which would restore child abuse prevention funds. The number of child abuse cases is increasing in part due to increased pressure from the recession. We are already aware that the Department of Economic Services is unable to investigate all complaints it receives regarding child abuse. Again, all Democrats voted for it and all Republicans voted against it.

In the end, Democrats all voted against the bill.

"Bipartisan cuts are ones where all parties are at the table. We are not voting for this bill because we did not have a say in it," said Sen. Rebecca Rios, Assistant Democratic Leader.

The legislature is currently in its Fifth Special Session called by Governor Brewer. The original call included three issues, including a sales tax referral and a referral to raid voter protected funds. The Republicans claim a mix-up in election date prevented the referral from going forward for the March ballot.

Thursday afternoon, Sen. Ken Cheuvront called attention to the "mix-up" during a press conference. He stated that a lack of communication between the Republican Governor, Republican Secretary of State and Republican Legislative Leadership caused the legislature to return to this special session without a concrete plan, which has been a waste of taxpayer dollars. For the vast majority of the last 44 years, Republicans have controlled the legislature despite the desire to blame Democrats for the state’s economic woes.

The House of Representatives is meeting today to consider the bill and the Senate will return to the floor tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Senator Amanda Aguirre to Lead Assembly on Rural Health Policy Dec. 12

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Senator Amanda Aguirre will join health care professionals, elected officials and state leaders to discuss Rural Health Policy on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009, at Mohave Community College’s Lake Havasu City Campus.

Date: Saturday, December 12, 2009
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Location: Mohave Community College, Lake Havasu City Campus, Room 600
1977 Acoma Blvd. West, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403

Community residents and agencies are invited to speak about health care challenges. The main topics of discussion will include: workforce, health care infrastructure, access to care and disease prevention.

“Our goal is to assemble community residents, policymakers, health care providers, administrators and academic specialists from Yuma, La Paz and Mohave counties to engage in a dialog that highlights crucial health care challenges, explores programmatic interventions and develops policy recommendations to support change,” said Aguirre.

The event is sponsored by three rural health organizations:
· The University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Rural Health Office
· The Regional Center for Border Health
· Arizona Rural Health Association

Panelists are:
· Michael Kearns, President, Lake Havasu City Community College
· Patty Meade, Director of the Mohave County Health Department
· Brad Tritle, Executive Director of the Arizona Health-e Connection