One of the prevailing messages from the grassroots in 2018 was: no more tax giveaways until the schools are fully funded. Republicans didn’t get that message. They also didn’t get the Invest In Ed message that we — the people– think the rich could pay more in taxes to help fund education.
The Republican budget cuts income taxes, TPT and fees by $386 million and leaves education and other needs underfunded (or unfunded).
We started the year with a $1 billion surplus to invest in the People’s To-Do List: education, infrastructure, healthcare and safety and security. The Republicans have added bits of money to these areas — just enough to make it look like they’re doing something— but the need is much greater.
Republicans are ignoring multiple crises that are brewing in our state including unnecessary maternal and child death; rock bottom education funding; crumbling roads, bridges and school buildings; lack affordable and low-income housing; the shortage of teachers, doctors and nurses; too many people living in poverty; lack of access to affordable healthcare… need I go on?
What is the Republican priority in the 2020 budget? Tax cuts! Instead of fully funding education— as the people have demanded— they are bankrolling a $386 million tax cut. In Appropriations, Republicans were bending over backwards to call the massive tax cut something else. “It’s a tax shift, not a tax cut.” If someone has a $50 tax obligation today and that tax obligation is reduced to $45 under the new law that would go into effect next year, that’s a tax cut. Don’t be fooled by the large dollar amount. Most of us won’t get much of anything out of this $386 million. If you make ~$50,000, you will get an extra $2-3 per week (not even a Starbucks cup of coffee). If you’re a rich grower, your fertilizer and pesticides will no longer be taxed. If you’re currently in the top tax bracket, your taxes will be lower across the board. If you’re currently in the lowest tax bracket, tough luck you don’t get a tax break. You’ll just be paying more in sales tax to make up for the tax breaks later. The purpose of this tax cut is ideological. The tea partiers want to drain the government coffers. Over the next 10 years this tax cut will take $3 to $4 billion out of the general fund. It is fiscally irresponsible for the Republicans to push this.
And what about maternal and child health? Republicans plan to look at the maternal morbidity and mortality data that they ignored for five years. They are defunding the nonpartisan and non-commercial 211 information line and giving $7.5 million to Cathi Herrod for a pregnancy hotline to talk you into adoption. What we need our women’s health clinics across the state, particularly in rural Arizona. Cathi Herrod shouldn’t be getting a dime out of this budget.
Today (Thursday) could be the big day that we stay up all night and fight valiantly against this bad budget… or not. From Twitter this morning, it appears as if not all of the Republicans are aligned.
Will we sine die in the wee hours of Friday, May 23? God only knows. There are loads of bad Republican bills that didn’t pass this year. I expect that they will attempt to pass some today– probably before the budget. Stay tuned. You can watch the fun at AZleg.gov. Click on Capitol TV and choose live or archived meetings. Follow @AZHouseDems on Twitter.