Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The "Fix" is In

Senate Democrats have been reviewing the 1,200 pages of options released by the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees over the past couple days. We thought we would share with you some of what we have learned. Here are some highlights:

The Chairmen’s options begin with a reduction to each agency that includes a lump sum reduction of approximately 10% in FY 2009 and 15% in FY 2010, plus a reduction in state employee pay and benefits by 4.2% in FY 2009 and 10% in FY 2010, but also includes the following:


  • Eliminate HealthCare Group. This covers roughly 18,000 people who work for small businesses.

  • Eliminate KidsCare, Arizona’s version of a federal program that provides medical coverage to uninsured children. The program serves approximately 64,000 children. If this happens, KidsCare parents, the companion program that allows their parents to get insurance for a fee, must also be eliminated.

  • Eliminate non-federally required Arizona Long-Term Care System services. Currently, the program covers people who make $23,100 per year or less. This option would only cover persons who make $7,500 or less.

Department of Economic Security

  • Drug test all recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and General Assistance. The Department of Health Services estimates that only 2.9% of Arizona’s population has a dependency on drugs. The price of drug testing would be $15 per recipient.

  • Reduce children support services by $5 million, which includes counseling and parenting skills training for parents of abused or neglected children.

  • Reduce the JOBS program by $10 million in 2010. These services are for current or past TANF recipients. The past 13,881 recipients of these monies have obtained employment.

  • Decrease child care funding by $8 million in FY 2009 and $19 million in FY 2010. This would result in a total decrease to that line of $57 million since we would also lose federal funding. Either this would result in 13,500 children losing funding or a reduction to each child to $247 per month from $352.

Department of Education

  • A $220 million lump sum reduction to school districts from the non-voter protected funding formula.

  • Phase out of career ladders and the teacher experience index and cap district desegregation funding.

  • Suspend 57% of the money school districts use to buy equipment in FY 2009, and all of it in FY 2010. This includes money for furniture, technology and school buses.

  • Eliminate full day kindergarten and require that schools not offer kindergarten to children who turn five on or after September 1.

Department of Health Services

  • Reduce non-federally required behavioral health services by 25%.

  • Reduce funding for vaccines to FY 2006 levels.

  • Close the UA poison control center.

School Facilities Board

  • Continue to suspend the construction of new schools.

  • No funding for school facilities maintenance.


  • Reverses progress made by rolling back past funding increases.

  • Requiring students receiving need-based financial aid to pay a minimum of $1,000 of their total tuition bill.

  • Repeals the university construction package passed last year and requires universities to make payments for debt already incurred on their own.

Senate Democrats understand that we are in a difficult economic time and must reduce the state budget in order to be fiscally sound. We stand ready to work to do so. We provide this information in an effort to keep our constituents informed about proposals at the legislature, and assure our constituents that we will fight to preserve vital government services to not only our most vulnerable populations, but also for those Arizonans who find themselves turning to government in these difficult economic times. The state should be there for you in your time of need.

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