Tuesday, April 28, 2015

McGuire on the 2016 Arizona Budget

Note: This editorial appeared in the March 12th edition of the Casa Grande Dispatch

This year's budget, which was rammed through the legislative process in just over 48 hours, trades
Sen. McGuire
short-sighted cuts for long-term damage to our state. The harm done to rural Arizona will be especially acute.

My LD 8 seatmates in the House initially sided with me to oppose the budget, but traded their votes for protecting Pinal Community College's budget from elimination. While I am grateful that funding to our community college was restored, the overall net result of the budget is hardly a good deal for the people of Pinal County.

Left on the cutting board was vital funding for public education. Our state universities will see a $99 million cut (fully 14% of their classroom funding), and our public schools will get a new $113.5 million reduction to their fund for classroom materials and supplies and capital dollars. This new cut is on top of reductions already in place to district additional assistance and will leave our schools financially struggling to retain quality teachers. In addition, the education funding lawsuit remains unresolved despite the fact that Arizona’s Legislature has been ordered to increase funding to our K-12 schools. This budget also phases out funding to the Casa Verde High School STEM Academy and eliminates all the additional aid they receive for this program by fiscal year 2017.

The Department of Child Safety will see a $10 million reduction despite 16,900 kids currently in state care, and the backlog of cases is rising, not falling.

Even more damaging to Arizona's rural communities is the 5% provider rate reduction for Medicaid. Coupled with the loss of federal matching dollars, that cut adds up to more than half a billion dollars that will disappear from our state's economy. This will put the many rural clinics and hospitals at risk of closing, in areas where there are often no alternatives.

In their blind quest for "fiscal responsibility," the crafters of this budget decided to shirk as much burden on to counties and towns as possible. Counties must now house all juvenile inmates in their own facilities and we also have to pay the state more than $10 million for collecting our own taxes. Does that sound fiscally responsible to you?

A common thread throughout all of their budget cuts was targeting programs that help Arizona's young, our rural areas and our needy. With cuts to counties, schools, health care and programs like the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, we can see who our state's leaders do not consider to be a priority.

Many legislators sold their votes for small things here and there. In doing so, they endorsed a short-sighted budget that will detrimentally affect Arizona for years to come.

I stood with the families of my district and refused to sell out their future in exchange for a few silver coins in the budget. I've got your back, and no one can convince me to back down.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Statements on the passing of Governor Raul H. Castro

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Senate Democratic leaders released the following statements on the passing of former Arizona Governor Raul H. Castro.

Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs:
“From the humble Sonoran mining town of Cananea to our state's highest office and representing our nation abroad as ambassador, Governor Castro was a true Renaissance man. A public servant with compassion for every member of his community, he understood the power of education for those who dream big,” said Senator Hobbs.

“He was a leader who demonstrated the dignity of selfless service in pursuit of equal opportunity for all, a quality to which all of Arizona’s leaders should aspire.”

Senate Democratic Whip Martin Quezada:
“Governor Castro was a man who embodied many things to many people. For young Latinos like myself, who grew up in this state and wanted to be leaders, who wanted to create opportunities for our people and to have a voice in determining the future of our state, Gov. Castro served as a beacon - a living example of what our potential could actually be,” said Sen. Quezada.

“As we mourn the loss of a great man like Raul Castro, we also see these young leaders and know that through it all, Raul Castro broke down a barrier and opened a door that can never be closed. Descanse en paz SeƱor Castro.”

Senator Catherine Miranda, chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus:
“Governor Raul Hector Castro, Arizona's first and only Hispanic governor, was an influential leader whose career spanned international borders, ethnic barriers and generations. With tenacity and dignity he worked his way through college, earned a law degree and used his professional career to serve his state and nation,” said Sen. Miranda.

“Next session I will introduce a proclamation to honor Governor Castro’s memory and recognize his legacy as a pioneer in Latino leadership – a legacy that continues with every young Latino who chooses to serve their community and make it a better place for future generations. Governor Castro will be dearly missed but his contributions to Arizona and the world, and his groundbreaking legacy for Hispanics everywhere, will last far beyond his rich lifetime.”