The 2015 Legislative Session is Over

| April 6, 2015

Children’s Action Alliance Newsletter:

April 3, 2015

The legislators have left the Capitol but the rest of us around the state have to deal with the damage. And there is a lot of damage.

Sad girl

In the name of fiscal responsibility, Governor Ducey and the majority of legislators voted for a budget with austere and damaging cuts to children, families, and education. Then, those same lawmakers voted YES on new special interest tax cuts that clearly and deliberately move the budget further away from structural balance.

Because of this, Governor Ducey and state lawmakers have guaranteed we will face ongoing struggles to support education and child safety. Their fiscal recklessness puts us on a long-term path to build more prison cells while shutting more people out of a college education; to promote skyrocketing growth in state tax credits for private school students while shrinking dollars for students in the public schools; to grow tax breaks for rich corporations while cutting basic tools to help parents and children succeed.

Children lost while special interests won this session. Governor Ducey has labeled advocates and parents who criticize his budget as “special interests.” While he brags about balancing the budget on the backs of children and education, he made some special interests very happy with legislation he signed.

  • Insurance companies get a phase-down of their tax rate that will end up costing the general fund $35 million each year – how much of that will come out of K-12 education?
  • Apple Computer gets a new tax break for the promise of bringing 150  jobs to Mesa.
  • Religious congregations who lease space get a tax cut.  The money they don’t pay in property taxes becomes an added cost to the state budget to pay for K-12 students.
  • Charter school owners may be able to use state tax dollars taken out of school classroom funding to get private loans at lower interest rates. (It’s still a mystery how this will work.)
  • Private prisons are set up to get more of our tax dollars and a steady stream of new prisoners – with no reforms to reduce recidivism or make communities safer.

Now is the time for Arizonans to come together to move our state toward a better budget and toward a path that leads to strong families and a prosperous economy. Despite the misguided priorities of so many state lawmakers, we have the power to make positive change. Here are examples of what we accomplished together this year in spite of the fiscal train wreck:

  • Thanks to the voices and leadership of foster youth, Governor Ducey signed a new law (HB 2022) that will allow more young adults who were in the foster care system to get a college education at our state universities without having to pay tuition.
  • With the determined leadership of Representative Debbie McCune Davis and a broad coalition to protect Arizona families, a new version of payday loans (HB 2611) got stopped in its tracks before it got a final vote.
  • Representative Kate Brophy McGee sponsored two successful bills to improve procedures and oversight of the Department of Child Safety (HB 2024 and HB 2164).

Click here to see the full list of 2015 Legislative Priorities for Children and Families. Thank you for working with CAA and I look forward to teaming up with you over the upcoming months to secure more progress for children and families.

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