SENATE DEMOCRATS SAY DUCEY BUDGET IGNORES COVID CRISIS
PHOENIX, State Capitol – Senate Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios and House Democratic Leader Reginald Bolding released the following statements on Gov. Ducey's budget proposal issued today:
Senate Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix:
“While we appreciate seeing the Governor invest in several Democratic proposals, such as additional money for the opioid treatment program and fully funding DPS body cameras, we are disappointed to see him prioritize more tax cuts that won’t help Arizona. The last thing Arizona needs right now is more tax cuts. What Arizonans need is a Governor who takes the COVID-19 pandemic seriously and has a plan to get more aid and relief to working families and our small businesses. This budget fails to do that. We need to focus on a plan that streamlines Arizona’s ineffective unemployment insurance program, fixes inaccessible housing assistance programs, expands access to childcare subsidies and food programs, and helps small businesses stay afloat until our economy stabilizes. We must also provide better protection for frontline workers, children and teachers as Arizona reopens its economy. Arizonans are struggling and it’s our job as their elected leaders to help. Senate and House Democrats are ready with immediate common-sense solutions to help Arizonans navigate the final months of the pandemic.”
House Democratic Leader Reginald Bolding, D-Laveen:
"We are pleased to see several Democratic proposals in the plan – including expanded opioid addiction treatment and body cameras for all DPS officers – and will work with the Governor to make those happen. We clearly have the resources right now to make a real difference for Arizona families and small businesses impacted by COVID-19 -- as well as our schools and social safety net. Given those resources, the Governor's budget could have far more impact than what we saw. This is not the time to propose $1.2 billion in tax cuts over the next three years when Arizonans are still hurting, the pandemic is not under control and the vaccine rollout has been slower than expected. Arizona voters just approved Proposition 208 to increase investment in our schools, and this plan looks like a backdoor way to keep that revenue out of the budget. When emergency federal pandemic relief goes away, our schools will still need to be funded. The best thing we can do to stimulate our economy is get COVID-19 under control and invest in infrastructure."
Democrats will provide more detailed analysis and questions as we spend more time with the Governor's plan, but initial takeaways include:
K-12 – A one-time infusion of federal money has been helpful, but is not an excuse to skip out on our obligation to invest in our underfunded K-12 school system or pre-k. The voters spoke loud and clear when they approved Invest in Ed (Proposition 208), and a $1.2 billion tax cut over three years directly undermines their will.
Body Cameras – Democrats have long pushed for all DPS officers to wear body cameras. This budget outfits all 2,400 troopers.
Broadband – Expanding broadband access along I-40 makes sense, but it should also extend from Flagstaff to the New Mexico, not just west to California, to improve connectivity for the Navajo Nation and other rural communities.
Private Prisons – Closing Florence Prison just to fill a nearby private for-profit prison does not save the state money. We should work to pass comprehensive criminal justice reform to reduce our incarceration rate and recidivism rather than lining the pockets of private prison companies.
Opioid Treatment – In 2018 Democrats negotiated $10 million into an opioid epidemic plan to help underinsured Arizonans seek treatment. That investment has since helped more than 33,000 people. The Governor's budget adds an additional $6 million.