Thursday, May 4, 2017

Budget prioritizes partisanship over greater good

Senator Katie Hobbs, Senate Democratic Leader
Senator Steve Farley, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader
Senator Martin Quezada, Senate Democratic Whip
Senator Lupe Contreras, Senate Democratic Whip

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Leaders of the Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statement on the passage of this session's budget:

"A state's budget reflects the priorities of those in power and the priorities of Arizona's Republican legislators and governor are crystal clear.

Governor Ducey and Republican legislative leaders had every opportunity to work together with Democratic legislators, who represent more than 40% of our state, to find realistic solutions to the real problems facing our state.

But they chose to ignore us.

For weeks, legislative Democrats offered our support for Governor Ducey's forward-thinking university bonding plan. With our cities and counties held harmless, his plan is a reasonable start to restoring the billions of dollars Republicans have cut from our state universities.

But he chose to put partisanship over collaboration.

Without the full support on bonding from Republican legislators, Governor Ducey needed our votes. For our support, we asked for a meaningful four percent raise for Arizona teachers, who have the lowest salaries in the nation, and a clean restoration of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to 24 months.

Instead of prioritizing Arizona's struggling families and hard-working teachers, Governor Ducey chose to spend your hard-earned tax dollars buying off Republicans with $1 million to the Koch brothers' pet project at ASU, $10 million in tax cuts and a petty swipe at cities.

Governor Ducey proclaimed in his state of the state speech, "Along with Leaders Hobbs and Rios, I’m excited to continue working together on areas of common ground."

It's hard to imagine, but Governor Ducey must not consider teachers, the working poor and our universities to be areas of common concern.

The priorities reflected in this purely Republican budget are that of partisanship over democracy, special interests over the public interest and hollow talking points over meaningful substance.

Legislative Democrats, by contrast, have always stood for Arizona's poor, our students and teachers, our universities, our public servants and our businesses. We strive every day to serve all Arizonans.

Such was our intention with our gesture of bipartisanship, a missed opportunity to collaborate for the greater good of Arizona because of wrong priorities."

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Ducey, Republican leaders eschew real solutions for partisan politics

Sen. Katie Hobbs, Senate Democratic Leader
Sen. Steve Farley, Asst. Senate Democratic Leader
Sen. Martin Quezada, Senate Democratic Whip
Sen. Lupe Contreras, Senate Democratic Whip
 Rep. Rebecca Rios, House Democratic Leader
Rep. Randall Friese, Asst. House Democratic Leader
Rep. Charlene Fernandez, House Democratic Whip

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Democratic leaders of the Senate and House released the following statement on the introduction of budget bills:

"Yesterday Governor Ducey and legislative Republican leaders introduced their budget bills, including a separate bill on university bonding.

"Republicans have known they don't have enough votes of their own members to pass university bonding, so we have been negotiating in good faith to support it in exchange for a clean restoration of the cruel and unnecessary TANF cut made in 2015, and diverting the governor's inequitable results-based funding to go toward teacher raises of 4%.

"Instead of working across party lines, they have decided to play partisan politics and pulled university bonding out of the higher education budget bill with the hope that enough Dems will be willing to leave struggling families and teachers behind to pass the bonding.

"That will not happen.

"Dems have always and will always stand up for our state's universities, which have been seen their budgets negligently slashed by Republicans for years. But we have also always stood up for Arizona's poor families and hard-working teachers who have been scapegoated and sacrificed in the name of conservative ideology.

"There is still an opportunity to work together to achieve both of these goals. We do not disagree with Governor Ducey's university bonding proposal. So long as our cities and towns are held harmless, it is a reasonable way to put a meaningful band aid on the damage that years of Republican neglect have caused.

"But rather than work with Democrats in true bipartisanship, Governor Ducey and Republican legislative leaders have decided they would rather risk university bonding than make a humane gesture to poor Arizona families and give our teachers a truly meaningful raise.

"Until they are willing to put ugly partisan politics aside and work with us, they will lose that gamble."