The Budget May Come to the Floor This Week!

I take seriously the commitment I made  to work together as your representative to ensure that every student gets the quality education they deserve, and all Arizonans get their chance to thrive.

So, I’ve been especially disheartened to find that though both chambers are almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, the state budget, our primary responsibility as legislators, has been constructed in secret (again) this year by members of only the majority party. This past week, previews revealed that it is much more focused on permanent tax cuts of $1.5 billion annually for the wealthy while neglecting our underfunded education system and the promise of opportunity for every citizen.

About 90% of the people in LD20 will not see a DIME as a result of these cuts since they reduce taxes for only those with a household income over $500,000 per year, the group that pays the lowest percentage of their income in state and local taxes already. Everyone should pay their fair share. 

I’m proud to have spent my life in the great state of Arizona. But you know what, great states, just like great people, keep their promises, and we are NOT keeping ours. 

The Arizona Constitution states that “… the legislature shall make such appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions…” 

Yet, Arizona ranks 49th in the nation in per pupil spending, and has such an extreme teacher shortage crisis that children in over 1800 classrooms have no permanent qualified teacher. At a time when teen suicides are on the rise, Arizona’s counselor to student ratio ranks at the bottom of the nation. Capital budget cuts to districts have resulted in crumbling buildings and lawsuits. 

During COVID, Governor Ducey promised school districts Education Stability Grants to cover their lost revenue, but districts across the state have only received between 71-26% of promised funds.

Arizona has cut taxes every year since 1990, resulting already in $4.4 billion less in annual state revenue, and the benefit has not yet trickled down to middle and working class families. In fact, the disparity between the wealthy and middle class has only widened. 

To truly grow our economy, we must invest in the people of Arizona.  If we don’t invest in public education, including community colleges and universities, job training, and resources so that the cost of housing and child care do not serve as barriers to getting an education or job, our economy will suffer. Attracting and developing businesses and industries requires an educated pool of workers that businesses can reply upon. 

As Director of Children’s Action Alliance David Lujan as well as former Governor Jan Brewer both wrote recently, these deep and permanent tax cuts are short sighted and could decimate our ability to live within our means.  

We need YOU to help stop these dangerous cuts.  Call the Governor’s office and the leadership of both the House and the Senate.  Tell them you want budget hearings that provide the opportunity for public input.  Ask that budget debate take place during the day, not the middle of the night as is often the case.  Share your specific concerns and priorities.

Governor Ducey: 602-542-4331
Senate President Karen Fann: 602-926-5874
House Speaker Rusty Bowers: 602-926-3128
If you are able, come to the Capitol this week to show your support for a responsible budget with investments in our public schools, as well as  infrastructure and health and care four our most vulnerable neighbors. Many groups are planning daily events this week. As always, please contact me if you have questions or concerns.  Thank you for your support! 

 

Sincerely,
Rep Judy Schwiebert
Arizona State House Representative from LD20

jSchwiebert@azleg.gov
602-926-3390 (office)
One of our local channels, AZ Family 3TV, has produced an original documentary about how the Justine Spitalny School in the Cartwright District faced the challenges of COVID with their students this year.  It’s a moving testament to the extraordinary, heartfelt work of so many teachers across the state who helped their students through this most challenging year. I highly recommend it!