Budget Update

What would happen if…

…. Arizona legislators listened and worked together across party lines to create a budget that works for all Arizonans?  With an unexpected revenue surplus this year, we finally have the chance to address long-neglected needs in education, infrastructure, healthcare, and other state responsibilities that benefit every Arizonan. Unfortunately, even though Republicans hold only the slightest majority in the House (31-29) and Senate (16-14), they continue to exclude all Democrats (who represent nearly half the electorate) from budget discussions. That’s just wrong.

Just as significantly, their strategy to force through a budget with only Republicans isn’t working. 

On June 7, it took just one Republican to cross party lines and join Democrats to help defeat budget bills containing the PERMANENT now $1.9 billion annual tax cut. I recently wrote about why I oppose Gov Ducey’s disastrous “flat tax” plan – including the fact that our public education system and other vital services are desperate for more investment, not less,but Republicans like Rep David Cook say they ALSO oppose it because

  1. The revenue losses to cities and towns would devastate their ability to meet public safety and other expenses,
  2. Members were given no time to review the hundreds of pages of amendments we were presented just 30 minutes ahead of the vote,
  3. As many economists are pointing out, it’s not fiscally responsible to base a budget on revenue forecasts that may have  been artificially enhanced by billions of dollars of federal COVID relief,
  4. Arizona should be using more of this temporarily available revenue to pay off our substantial debt.

So many of us agree! Also, other Republicans in the House and Senate continue to voice other objections to this budget, making it all the less likely that Republicans can pass it alone.

A Skinny Budget?!

Recently, a Republican committee chair suggested to a Democratic legislator that she might just push for a so-called “skinny budget” again this year. (Providing just enough funding to keep the state running.) He responded as I would have NO!  

With the current surplus, we should pass a budget that makes major investments in our long-neglected responsibilities for classrooms, infrastructure, access to healthcare, and support for our local businesses, and leave the big tax and revenue policy changes for a special session later. Her immediate response was, “Oh no, I’d lose half the Republican votes.”  Well, you know what? We’d likely gain half the Democrats, giving us a truly bi-partisan budget. 
Democrats stand ready to work together on a budget that works for all Arizonans, not just the wealthiest few. And as Democratic Minority Leader Reginald Bolding recently explained, we support a tax policy that not only works for the short-term, but for the long-term as well. 
We open each House floor session with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Often, when I hear Republican members pray that we all work together for the good of Arizona, I think to myself, “There are 29 of us across the aisle raising our hands high, wanting very much to work together for the good of our state!”  Yet, we are ignored, and the priorities of the people we represent – nearly half of Arizona voters – are not considered. Nonetheless, Democrats continue to show up every day to work for our communities, ready to negotiate, and eager to add our own good ideas to the mix. There is so much we could agree on, if only we were allowed to participate. 
The people of Arizona are counting on us to work together on behalf of all of us.What if we actually did?

TAKE ACTION! Call the Governor’s office and the leadership of both the House and the Senate and ask them to create a responsible,  bipartisan budget that prioritizes investing in our communities, and paying down state debt.

Governor Ducey: 602-542-4331
Senate President Karen Fann: 602-926-5874
House Speaker Rusty Bowers: 602-926-3128


Juneteenth & Voting RightsAs we celebrate Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday this weekend, I was proud to help  launch 4 buses full of #FreedomRiders from Phoenix yesterday. They’re on their way to Washington DC to demand the Senate pass the #ForThePeopleAct. Juneteenth demands more than lip service. It requires our on-going commitment to protect hard-won voting rights that are once again under attack in Arizona and in states across the country. 
Climate Change and WildfiresOur current reality also makes clear why Gov Ducey’s  $1.9 Billion “flat tax” is a non-starter. Arizona needs this revenue to protect and invest in our people and state.  

To that end, I’m grateful that the governor called for a special session to address the increasing number of wildfires raging across our state. In Wednesday’s  hearing, our state’s head firefighter also shared they can’t use helicopters to scoop up water out of lakes and reservoirs since the water levels are so low.  Last year was the hottest summer in recorded history, and this week alone we’re facing record-shattering high temperatures.  

Arizonans deserve to live in healthier, safer communities. These increasing wildfires, drought conditions and temperatures are all evidence of the urgent
need for our state, like our cities, to make a plan to address the clear effects of climate change. 

For now, SB1001/HB2001, the single bill coming out of this special session, would provide a 3-year funding plan totaling, $170 million, which is $64.5 million higher than the May 24 budget plan for wildfire initiatives.  I appreciated seeing that $75 million of that would be directed to the suppression and mitigation for the aftermath of fires. 

Democrats also proposed an amendment that would add financial assistance to small businesses for emergency repairs that are required because of fire or fire suppression, but Republicans defeated it.
Get Your Free COVID Shot! Have you gotten your COVID shot(s) yet? The more Arizonans who get vaccinated, the more we can all safely get back to the things we love. If you aren’t yet fully vaccinated, contact your local healthcare provider, or go to https://noahhelps.org/covid-vaccine/ to schedule a vaccine appointment at a Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) center. 

You can also book appointments online at any state health department site at http://podvaccine.azdhs.gov or by calling 844-542-8201. A video tutorial on online appointment scheduling is availablehere

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!