The Farley Report from Phoenix #120 -- 1-18-11

Howdy,  Friends O'Farley,

I hope you are all doing well. I must confess it has been hard to re-enter into legislative life while the events of January 8 are still fresh. If you are having some trouble coping, please take advantage of some of the community-wide counseling being offered free of charge by the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona (CPSA).

The groups will be led by professionals trained in helping others deal with loss and trauma. No registration is needed. All sessions will be held at the CPSA Training Center/Plaza Arboleda, 2502 N. Dodge Blvd., on the east side of Dodge just north of Grant Road. You can just show up at these dates & times:

5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18
6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20
10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 22

If we all remain loving and patient with one another as we move forward on our path of healing, we will emerge even stronger and closer as a community than we were before. 

The challenges to our new commitment to loving kindness are already mounting. Governor Brewer unveiled her new budget proposal last Friday, and it is not the solution we need -- particularly now. Here are some of the key elements:

Less than a week after a seriously mentally ill shooter went on the rampage that changed our world, Gov. Brewer proposes that we eliminate healthcare for 5,200 seriously mentally ill people. Seriously.

Less than a week after University Medical Center -- our last remaining trauma center in Southern Arizona -- showed the world its importance to us, Gov. Brewer proposes 20% cuts to university funding, endangering UMC and our trauma center.

In addition to cutting $170 million from our three universities, she wants to cut $73 million from community colleges. $170 million will also be taken from K-12 schools, and they will be forced to give a loan to the State of another $240 million. If this goes through, the total amount loaned to the state by public schools will rise to $1.2 billion.

Interestingly, the Governor issued a press release today saying, "Employers need a skilled workforce, and employees want a good school system for their children. Achieving a strong economy for Arizona's second century requires that Arizona act now to strengthen its education system." Is this how she acts to support education?

She also wants to cut 280,000 people in poverty from AHCCCS health care, and -- this just in -- is calling a Special Session tomorrow to ask President Obama for a waiver of the requirement that states continue covering people they used to cover or else lose our federal matching funds.

This will not only cost these people their healthcare, it will cause the loss of tens of thousands of private sector healthcare jobs and dramatically increase costs to the rest of us as hospitals struggle to find a way to deal with the uncompensated care they have to provide for these people who are no longer covered.

Of course, there's not much of a chance that the President would approve such a waiver anyway, so that just leaves a half-billion dollar hole in her budget solution.

There is no special session or other solution for Arizona citizens in need of life-saving transplants, either, even though all they need is $1.2 million.

There are also no new revenue sources, just more of the borrowing and other short-term accounting gimmicks that have failed to balance the budget over the last two years. No corporate tax loopholes are closed, and no long-term solutions to tax reform are put forth to help make our economy more stable in the long run. The Governor does want to increase our property taxes by $62 million however.

It's hard to understand how this budget squares with her assertions that she wants to strengthen our economy and our education system. I know that these are tough times, but there are other things we can do besides cut and borrow. How about considering closing just a few of the more than $10 billion in corporate tax loopholes?

If we are to have the services and infrastructure that our people and businesses want and deserve, we have to have an honest -- and civil -- conversation about how we pay for them. We can't simply pretend that schools and roads and prisons and universities and hospitals and trauma centers and mental health care all pay for themselves. Nor can we pretend that we can thrive without their existence.

I hope that we can have that conversation in the next few weeks here in Phoenix. If we do not, and this type of budget prevails, I hope that voters can have a conversation with those who vote for this budget at their polling places during the next election.

Probably the strongest impression that stays with me over the past week and a half is the wisdom and love that continues to emanate from Tucson. I know that we can do better than this budget as we seek to govern ourselves in that spirit.

Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Representative.

Steve

Steve Farley
Arizona State Representative, District 28
Assistant Minority Leader
Ranking Member, Transportation Committee
Ways & Means Committee
Ethics Committee
Legislative Council
Capitol office: 602-926-3022
Tucson office: 520-398-6000
Official email: sfarley at azleg.gov

Paid for by Friends O' Farley