I see it as part of my job to empower you to make a difference. The more you understand what is going on at the legislature, the more you can communicate to others about what needs to be changed.
So, here is my first series of posts on the state budget. Our brilliant Democratic staff at the State House presented on the budget last month and I realized how useful it could be if you could see these, too.
Check Facebook or Twitter daily as we post another in this 13-part series.
Slide 1 of 13. See how Arizona has more money for education than the GOP leaders pretended during session. For those of us on the inside, we could see that the GOP leadership was cynically trying to close down session before the revised revenue figures came in, which they knew would demonstrate that we were going to have more revenue. I made this prediction during session. They closed down session with a draconian budget and now here we are.
In Slide 2 of 13 you can see that revenues were stronger than predicted. Again, I doubt that they did not see this coming when we passed the state budget in April.
So, the question becomes, what can we do with these funds to make things a little easier on students and families. Also, it begs the question: do we need to raid our state trust lands to pay for something we can cover in more responsible ways?
I think the most interesting take-away in slide 3 of 13 is that there is about $250 million that is projected to be on-going revenue. In other words, our economy has recovered enough that we can count on this level of revenue for at least the next few years. Of course, if you lived through the Great Recession, you know that no revenue is for sure. But, if we know we have this for the next few years, does that change how we plan ahead?
Slide 4 of 13 shows you how the $497 million in cuts was distributed. In other words, who got hit the hardest. The unexpected new $325M in FY15, along with money from the Rainey Day Fund, could return most of this money back to students, schools and critical services. What do you think?
Slide 5 of 13 shows how spending has increased or decreased from FY08 to now. The graph shows how spending on correctional facilities has grown by 33% over 8 years, whereas spending on community colleges dropped 67% and school facilities boards lost 59% of their state funding.
Slide 6 of 13 explains how tax cuts mixed with spending cuts is not a new trend for the GOP. Taxes were cut by $3 Billion over 20 years and all we have received in return is less spending but more debt.
In Slide 7 of 13 it's clear that promises of tax cuts leading to more jobs is simply untrue. In July alone, Arizona's unemployment rate grew and the majority of those gaps in the job market come from local government education. In other words, the FY 16 tax cuts haven't lead to more jobs, they've just lead to less jobs in public education.
Slide 8 of 13 shows how AZ spends about $3,000 less on education than the national average. State funding for education has gone down 18% since 2007.
Slide 9 of 13 shows how state university enrollment has grown by 32,000 since 2006, yet funding has been consistently cut. To make up for gaps in funding, Universities are forced to raise tuition rates and put thousands of students deeper into debt.
When maintenance is put off on a property, what was a small problem usually turns into a big, expensive problem. Slide 10 of 13 shows how the GOP has put off $4.6 billion worth of repairs.
Slide 11 of 13 shows how state debt has grown from $4.98B in 2005 to $9.42B
Slide 12 of 13 shows how little Arizona pays in aid for children. We are the 9th lowest in Temporary assistance benefits. We are the 3rd lowest in the nation for preschool attendance. We don't even have a Child Health Insurance Program. Yet we still have a growing debt.
Slide 13 of 13 shows how budgets relate to average personal income, adjusted for inflation. If the FY16 budget reflected the average for the past 22 years, we should be spending about $2 Billion more on things like education, healthcare, and needy child support.