Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Senate Republicans pass budget that decimates education, healthcare

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Senate Republicans voted today to decimate education by cutting more than $500 million dollars in vital funding from all levels of Arizona’s educational systems, kicking 280,000 people off of healthcare and shifting costs to counties.

“The Senate Republican budget passed today demonstrates that education and jobs are not priorities of Republican Legislators,” said Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. “This budget proposal cuts higher education this year more than in the previous four years combined, putting Arizona companies and students at a disadvantage when compared to competitors in any state, let alone worldwide.

The Senate Appropriations Committee met for seven hours deliberating the bills on Wednesday. The budget was only released to the public on Tuesday evening.

“The public had no time to review this proposal, had no input in the process and had no time to prepare for the devastating effect this will have on Arizonans,” said Senate Assistant Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor. “Arizonans want us to fix the economy and create jobs. This budget kills jobs and will prolong our economic strife.”

Senate Democrats offered amendments to lessen the devastating cuts to education and Arizona’s families, but the Republicans rejected all amendments.

“This budget is filled with unconstitutional provisions that only help lawyers and wastes taxpayer dollars,” said Senate Minority Whip Paula Aboud. “I cannot imagine prospective employers who may be considering a move to Arizona looking at this budget and believing that moving here is a good business decision.  The Republicans should be ashamed.”

The budget cuts 280,000 low income people off AHCCCS coverage and also requires the counties to help pay off state debt at a time when counties and cities are struggling to balance their own budgets.

Total cuts in the Senate Republican budget proposal:
K-12 Education                                 $242 million
Universities                                        $235 million
Community Colleges                          $63 million
Department of Economic Security      $97 million
Department of Health Services           $20 million

The Senate Republican budget also includes an additional $55 million cost shift to counties for prisoners.

The bills are numbered SB 1612 to SB 1624 and are located online at: http://www.azleg.gov/Bills.asp?FirstBill=SB1601&LastBill=SB1650  

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