Thursday, March 12, 2015

Speaking of what AZ is losing in the disastrous budget

Here is a rundown from State Sen. Steve Farley.

--> Cuts to hospital and provider rates for those providing care to Medicaid / AHCCCS patients total $127 million over two years which mean a loss of another $508 million in federal matching funds from Arizona's economy over that time. More than a half-billion dollars will leave the Arizona economy and go to some other less ideological state. This requires a Federal waiver. If that does not happen, the budget will be unbalanced.

--> K-12 schools will suffer from a $352 million cut in district assistance and other areas, and TUSD is singled out for another $17 million hit starting this coming fiscal year, which will be shared by Pima County, likely leading to higher property taxes for Pima County residents along with cuts. The exact portion of the cuts/tax hikes will be apportioned by an unelected Property Tax Oversight Committee based in Phoenix. The inflation funding lawsuit settlement, which the courts have set at around $332 million, was funded at only $74 million. And $900 million in K-12 rollovers remain, a budgeting gimmick used years ago that has still not been paid back. This means that public schools are receiving their state funds not in advance, but as reimbursement -- 90 days in arrears.

Read more below the break.

--> Community colleges in Pima and Maricopa Counties are zeroed out completely from state funding. Pima College Chancellor Lee Lambert called this "irreparable."

--> Universities are cut $99 million in FY16, with UofA's portion $28.4 million.

--> JTED programs are cut by $30 million in FY17, despite the pleas of 35 JTED students from Andrada Polytech High School in Vail, who drove up Friday morning and stayed watching in the gallery until 2am when they drove back home. Their school -- and many others -- may be closed by these cuts and the students' careers are in danger.

--> $1 million was taken from a fund for consumer protection in the Attorney General's office and given to a new Division of Federalism which is charged to find ways to sue the Federal Government.

--> Cities and counties received more raids -- they will now have to pay for collection of sales taxes and juveniles in state prisons, although they will be able to bid against the private prison companies to provide 1,000 extra male medium security prison beds in 2017.

--> Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), cash assistance to mothers in desperate economic straits (often fleeing from domestic abuse) was cut to a 12-month lifetime limit -- the harshest limit in the US -- although currently the average length of claims is only 14-15 months. Those cuts may put more women and families in danger of destitution.

--> $10 million in cuts to the Department of Child Safety remain despite 16,900 kids currently in state care, and the backlog of cases rising, not falling.

--> Arizona arts funding is again zeroed out after two years of being funded at $1 million a year.

--> $360 million is left untouched in the Rainy Day fund. Is it raining yet?

--> and there was still no discussion (except from me) of suspending the remaining $675 million in corporate tax giveaways that will go into effect in the next three years or the $12.6 billion that disappears annually in special interest sales tax loopholes. The money is there, but the majority chooses to cut vital services instead of asking corporations to pay their fair share.

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