budget update & personal reflections

Here’s the latest, copped straight from the AAFB Public Policy page:  Governor Brewer has signed the Budget “feed bill” SB1188 with line item vetoes in various sections, including line item vetoing the lump sum reductions to DES and DHS. This permits State Government to continuing to keep the doors open.

She vetoed the BRB’s for Capital Outlay (SB1027), Higher Education (SB1029), State Properties (SB1031), General Government (SB1035) Revenue (SB1036), Health and Welfare (SB1145) and K-12 education (SB1187).

Read Governor Brewer’s Statement (PDF).  She has called a special legislative session beginning 1 p.m. on Monday, July 6 in hopes of reconciling the budget the legislature passed and her vetoes.

Advocates are supportive of this action by the Governor and are working to meet with her in the next hours or days to talk about how to make sure in the next budget plan services are preserved at a level that will permit the needed support for low-income, vulnerable Arizonans who need the services – such as food banks, soup kitchens, shelters, domestic violence centers, senior services, child care for working families and more. They are also seeking to work with all parties to encourage all to come to the table in the next round of the Special Session to work for a long term solution to Arizona’s fiscal crisis.

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With the official statement out of the way, let me just say that while I’m glad we avoided a government shutdown, this whole process has left much to be desired.  Arizona’s food banks have been preparing for budget cuts for some time now, and in many cases, are seeing an increase in private donations and federal commodities (specifically TEFAP food via the stimulus package) to help offset the huge increases in demand–up some 50-70% statewide this year so far.  How long this will keep up with spiked demand is anyone’s guess, but so far we are weathering the storm.

But it never should have come to this point.  Arizona has a revenue problem, not a spending problem, brought on by the crippling local housing market and depressed consumer spending.  When times were good, the spending was accounted for without a problem–now, should we have put some away in a rainy day fund?  Sure, but the truth is the spending was in-line with Arizona’s population and wealth growth before the economy tanked.  So rather than looking at innovative ways of raising revenues (and much-needed long-term tax revenue stabilization strategies, something long overdue in Arizona), crazy Republican in-fighting has produced deep cuts and a stick-your-head-in-the-stand approach to revenues.  Way to put ideology over reality. 

So here we are.   This isn’t just party politics, we’ve got one party so fragmented that it cannot produce a budget in the best interest of the state or the people they serve.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  If nothing else, it’s been an interesting trial-by-fire for me as I dig deeper into local politics than ever before.  Somebody better drop a rope down if I get too deep!

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One Response to “budget update & personal reflections”

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