Several times during the tax cut debates on Wednesday, Feb. 11, in the House Ways and Means Committee, Chairman Ben Toma and other Republicans repeated the mantra that Arizona has a “budget surplus”. The only reason that we have funds that have not been allocated is because we have had decades of budget cuts and chronic underfunding of important programs like public education(!), the Housing Trust Fund, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and so forth. It’s not that there is no need in our state, and, so therefore, we have extra cash. We don’t have extra money.
Also, several times during the committee meeting, I reminded everybody that Arizona is worst in the nation for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). We are not only shortchanging our school children by underfunding education, we are shortchanging small children before they ever get to school. It is highly ironic that Arizona is the country’s #1 “pro-life” state and also #50 in ACEs, due to our stingy policies and poor treatment of￼￼ our children.
In my study of gaps and inequities in maternal and child health in Arizona, I took a comprehensive approach and looked through the lens of the social determinants of health. Two contributing factors to Adverse Childhood Experiences are housing insecurity and food insecurity.
I have two bills that would help Arizonans living in poverty with their food insecurity. HB 2839 would increase the monthly cash assistance amount for TANF, and HB 2066 would increase TANF benefits to the five years allowable by the federal government￼. I also have two bills that would help with housing insecurity. I have HB 2583 which would increase funding to the housing trust fund which could be used for multiple￼ housing security strategies. HB2886 is my Truth in Renting bill which requires landlords to tell upfront what other fees they charge in addition to rent and says there can be no extra fees associated with on time payment of rent. It also says that renters can opt out of unnecessary fees and pay rent using any legal tender (not just the landlord’s website).
In my opinion, we should hold the line on massive tax cuts for corporation and rich Arizonans as long as our children are suffering more than the children in any other state. WE DON’T HAVE A BUDGET SURPLUS. We have chronic underfunding of programs that benefit the people of Arizona, while billions of dollars each year are given away in corporate tax giveaways.
Enough is enough. Arizona deserves a government that will work for the people– not the corporations.