Scriber reacts: "I leave town and look what happens."
So our legislators, our moral leaders, beloved for the compassion for the citizens of the state, admired for their defense of those who would be otherwise defenseless, squelched the Kids Care program. 30,710 is the number of kids not not covered as a result. The principal villain in this sad story is Senate President Andy Biggs.
Below are snippets from the Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required).
The House of Representatives rejected an attempt to restore a federally funded children’s health insurance program over concerns that it would “blow up the budget.”
That likely ends any chance of rebooting the program this year, despite a wealth of support in both chambers of the Legislature.
Rep. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman, had planned on Tuesday to run an amendment to HB2705, the budget bill dealing with health issues, that would unfreeze the KidsCare program. But she said she decided against it after the Governor’s Office warned her that it would jeopardize the budget deal arranged between the House, Senate and Gov. Doug Ducey.
Cobb said the policy was very important to her, but that her amendment, if adopted, could throw off the entire budget. Although her bill restoring Kids Care garnered 47 votes in the House, 23 of those from her fellow Republicans, she said a budget amendment didn’t have the same level support.
HB2309, Cobb’s standalone bill to restore KidsCare, garnered votes that included House Speaker David Gowan and other members of leadership. [Sen. Jeff] Dial said he believes there was enough support to pass it in the Senate as well. But with Senate President Andy Biggs standing firmly against unfreezing KidsCare over concerns about the potential future cost to the state, Dial said it was extremely unlikely that the bill would get a hearing in the Senate.
"Senator Biggs and a small number of legislators with an extremist agenda have blocked this significant proposal that would have had majority support of both houses at the Legislature,” Children’s Action Alliance President Dana Naimark said in a press statement.
Naimark also called out Ducey for what she deemed a lack of leadership on the issue.
“Governor Ducey could have used his leadership to include KidsCare in the budget. Instead, he and Republican lawmakers have ignored business leaders, pediatricians, nurses, working parents, faith leaders, school board members, state representatives and community groups across the state who have called for the restoration of KidsCare,” she said.