Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Budget is a shameful failure of leadership

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement on this year’s budget:

"One word sums up this year's budget: Shameful.
Sen. Hobbs

“It's shameful that the Republican majority refused to restore KidsCare and provide health coverage to 30,000 Arizona children. It's shameful that the Republican legislators who supported it caved to pressure and either voted against it or went into hiding. And it's shameful that Republican leaders at the Capitol are so devoted to ideology that they are willing to deny Arizona children their health just to prove a point.

“This budget does some good in areas for which legislative Democrats have long advocated. But even then, we could do so much better for the people of Arizona.

“HURF funds that for years have been swept by Republicans will finally be given to our counties where they are desperately needed to repair and maintain neglected roads. Accelerating the State Route 189 expansion will end the economic bottleneck that has seen us lose vital trade to Texas and its efficient ports. And for the first time in many years our public schools will not see a cut in their funding, though even that did not happen without a fight and does not restore the $116 million that was cut last year.

“This budget also adds $32 million in funding to our universities, after having slashed them by $99 million last year, but earmarks $5 million of that specifically for Koch brothers-backed "freedom schools" that actively advocate for the complete elimination of public education.

“What this budget leaves on the cutting room floor is hundreds of millions in surplus revenue - a fraction of which could be used for a down payment on a true ‘next step’ toward adequately funding our K-12 schools, restoring the spiteful 12 month reduction of temporary assistance for needy families made in last year's budget back to 24 months, and prison reforms that prevent recidivism.

“But what we wouldn't even need one dime for, and what is most shameful of all, are the 30,000 Arizona children of families who earn too much to qualify for AHCCCS but not enough for private insurance. It was literally the least we could do in this budget, but the Republican ideologues who control this state chose to leave those children and their families to suffer.

“It's a shameful failure of leadership.”

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