Much to everyone's surprise, the budget began moving today. We first saw the details in a briefing by Joint Legislative Budget Director Richard Stavneak tonight between 6 and 8 pm. Please excuse any typos -- I am tired but I want to get this info to you tonight.
The majority may or may not have the votes yet, but we did the first reading of bills on the Senate floor at 10pm tonight and if you want to comment on the budget you may want to act quickly, since their plan is to finish the whole thing by Friday night or early Saturday morning.
A good place to comment would be at the Senate Appropriations committee on which I serve tomorrow afternoon around 3:30 or 4pm when we will be discussing the budget bills and taking testimony. You can watch live online at azleg.gov.
Or you may want to be outside the Capitol tomorrow around the same time when parents and teachers and students and school board members and the university community and so many more will be coming from around the state to protest a fifth straight year of cuts to education in the budget. I will join them once I am out of Approps.
Before I head to get a little rest tonight, here are the toplines:
--> Cuts to hospital and provider rates for those providing care to Medicaid / AHCCCS patients total $127 million over two years which mean a loss of another $508 million in federal matching funds from Arizona's economy over that time.
--> K-12 schools are cut $98 million in FY16 and another $157 million in FY17.
--> Community colleges in Pima, Pinal, and Maricopa Counties are zeroed out completely from state funding.
--> Universities are cut 14% for a $104 million cut in FY16.
--> JTED programs are cut by $30 million in FY17.
--> TUSD is singled out for a $8 - $15 million hit annually from elimination of the 1% prop tax cap which may lead to higher prop taxes.
--> $10 million cuts to the Department of Child Safety.
--> $360 million left untouched in the Rainy Day fund.
--> and no discussion of suspending the remaining $883 million in corporate tax giveaways that will go into effect in the next three years or the $12.6 billion in special interest sales tax loopholes.
Governor Ducey calls this #AZBalanced. I call it #AZBackwards.
If you agree, you have until Friday night to make your voice heard in whatever way you feel would be most effective. Perhaps you might want to call and/or emailing your favorite Republican legislator.
Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Senator.
Senator, District 9, Tucson