Democracy in Action in Phoenix

Arizona saw democracy in action yesterday afternoon when close to 2,000 citizens showed up at the State Capitol to protest the Governor’s proposed budget. The crowd included ASU students who marched in from their campus, younger children, parents, teachers, union members, and numerous other public education supporters.

A few legislators came out of their offices to listen to the public, but the vast majority of GOP representatives stayed hunkered down inside. In the end, they once again demonstrated they don’t care what the people of Arizona want, as the proposed $9.1 billion spending plan passed the Appropriations Committee five votes to three along party lines, with Republicans in favor.  The proposal cuts $98 million from K-12 education, $104 million from the state’s three public universities, and the entire $19 million in state funding that us currently allocated to community colleges.[i]

One GOP Representative blamed the need for the cuts to public education on the voters’ 2012 failure not to extend the temporary one-cent sales tax, which generated about one billion per year in revenue. The House Minority Leader, Eric Meyer, said that’s only half the story since during the time those funds were being collected, the Republican controlled Legislature gave away $538 million in tax cuts.

Unfortunately, Arizona’s Governor and Legislature seem hell bent on taking Arizona down the same road Kansas has gone in recent years. This, despite all the proof that this strategy isn’t working for Kansas and, all the opposition the plan has seen in our own state.

Among the opposition over the last few weeks, were 220 school superintendents who wrote the Legislature that: “The proposed reductions, if enacted, will affect student achievement, student health, and campus security. By any measure, the proposed cuts will have an overall detrimental impact on student success, making the mission of educating Arizona’s youth even more challenging.[ii]

Michael Crow, President of ASU, sent an email to alumni in which he wrote “it is certainly time for the State of Arizona to recognize higher education as a priority investment that should be made in human capital to help Arizona, its economy and its people move forward.”[iii]

Michael Varney, the Tucson Chamber of Commerce President and CEO called the proposed budget “disappointing at best and devastating at worst.” He went on to say, “there is a point beyond which you cannot come back. You can cut to that point but not beyond it or your organization or company will fail.”

One aspect of Ducey’s budget that has many Arizonans very upset is that he seems to value private prisons over public education. TUSD Governing Board Clerk, Kristel Foster said, “I am not ok with having 3,000 more prison beds. I’m not ok as a citizen of Arizona in investing in that and having a goal of keeping our prisons 90 percent occupied and not having a literacy rate of 90 percent in our schools.”[iv]   In fact, many of the protestors yesterday had signs referring to the prioritization of prisons over schools such as: “Education, Not Incarceration”, “Schools, Not Jails”, “Fund Schools, Not for Profit #ALEC Prisons.”

Arizonans are angry and they are tired of not being heard by our legislators and Governor. They still owe us $317 million in inflation funding voters mandated and a judge ordered be paid, yet they claim they can’t do it while continuing to give huge corporate tax breaks.  One has to wonder where this will end and when we will hit rock bottom. The sad part is there is no doubt our children will pay the highest price.

[i] http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/03/04/ducey-gop-leaders-reach-state-budget-accord/24382611/

[ii] http://azednews.com/2015/02/18/233-arizona-superintendents-ask-legislators-to-adopt-a-budget-that-does-not-cut-k-12-school-funding/

[iii] http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/02/26/crow-rips-duceys-higher-ed-budget-mail-alumni/24095385/

[iv] Arizona Daily Star, March 6, 2015

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4 thoughts on “Democracy in Action in Phoenix

  1. While I agree with most of your message and sorry predictions of the outcomes of Legislative actions, I totally disagree to your statement, “Arizonans are angry and they are tired of not being heard by our legislators and Governor.”

    Stop and think, who elected the current legislators and the Governor? Those Arizonans who voted in last November’s election only five months ago and they are so angry now? No, the Arizonans angry now are the people who disagreed with the results of the minority of citizens who exercised their voting privileges in the last election.

    The current legislature and the governor received their powers from the consent of the governed and voted in the last election, This is where the blame if any rests, the two-third of voters who did not vote. This where we who disagree are falling short.
    Our time is spent protecting the rights to vote and overlook the real problem making certain that everyone realizes their duty to vote.

    If we are correct that the majority of Arizonans are angry with what is taking place in the state budgeting process then we need to concentrate our efforts not on those voting but those who don’t vote. We see the results of the minority, the only way to change that is to pull the majority into the decision making process.

    Elections have consequences, want to change the results? Make sure the majority is heard, that means working with everyone to exercise their duty to participate in the election and vote. If the results don’t suit us then, we have failed in “selling” our case.

    Watch out who we entrust with the consent to “rule” us. We have less than two years to do our job. Protect our rights and privileges provide fair access to vote and make our fellow citizens realize their duty is to vote.

  2. “Michael Varney, the Tucson Chamber of Commerce President/.. the proposed budget ‘disappointing at best and devastating at worst.’ ”
    What kind of pinko commie is this guy? What happened to the real Chamber of Commerce? Heads will roll!
    BTW, are you sure we didn’t steal the election? mooooooooWa ha ha ha ha ha ha!

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