Jan Brewer to Arizonans: you’d better be rich, and like being stupid

Arizona’s governor, Jan Brewer, introduced the legislature, and Arizonans, to her budget this week, and it’s a doozie.  In order to cover a budget gap of somewhere between $800 million and 2 billion (interestingly enough, getting an exact number is sort of like finding a needle in a haystack), Brewer proposes to cut business taxes, slash education, and eliminate Medicaid programs for the poor.  It’s trickle-down economics on steroids, Reaganomics for the Tea Party…pick your metaphor, but any way you look at it, this budget makes no sense.  It didn’t make sense last year to not pay bills in June, but wait until July, the start of the next fiscal year, to pay them, and then pay interest in the missed payment.  It didn’t make sense to pass a budget last year that counted on the people of Arizona allowing the state to raid two funds, one of which was established to help at risk children between the ages of 1 and 5, for the money.  Guess what?  The voters said ‘hell no’…and whoops!  The budget problems grew.

Let’s take a closer look.  Let’s start with the healthcare budget.  Now, because of the Health Care Reform Act, Arizona can’t actually cut Medicaid without permission.  So before this can happen, the Arizona legislature, led by some people who seem to think being poor equates to a disease, or being an illegal immigrant (full disclosure, today I formally withdrew from grad school because I happen to be one of the working poor Brewer wants to ignore), are going to get together to vote on whether or not she can go ask the feds for a waiver.  I’m guessing that’ll pass pretty easily.  Brewer and her gang claim that there are plenty of people in DC who will vote to grant the waiver.  I’m guessing in the House, they’re right, but the Senate may be a tougher sell.  Thus, unless they get the waiver, they’ll be budgeting some $541 million dollars they may not have.  Whoops.  Not to mention that the federal government pays 2/3rds of Medicaid costs in Arizona.  So that’s about a billion dollars the state will be losing right there. Whoops again.  Of course, Brewer and her budget team remind Arizonans, that money is only going to last through the end of 2010 (which is when Medicaid funding is up for a renewal).  Since when has the federal government NOT re-upped healthcare for the poor?  Hmmm….never.

Not to mention that eliminating some 280,000 people (and, coincidentally, about the same number of job losses in the state in the last three years) from eligibility in AHCCCS (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System…the state’s name for Medicaid for the poor), most of them adults, doesn’t mean that these poor people are going to go away.  Nor are they going to magically get health insurance elsewhere.  Which means more people going to the ER, unable to pay, which means the cost will shift to those with health insurance from elsewhere, which means higher premiums, which means employers will take a bigger chunk out of people’s paychecks, which means less take home pay, which means more people will need help paying rent, buying food, paying bills…see where I’m going here?  This aspect of Brewer’s bill is not only short sighted, but will create even more people who need help from the state.  Not exactly cost containment there, is it, Jan?

And what about what she wants to do to education in this state?  She wants to cut somewhere around a billion dollars from the K-12 budget, already one of the slimmest in the nation.  This means no more full-day kindergarten (okay, I’d actually like that idea, except that means bigger daycare costs, which means more people needing help from the state to cover those costs…are we seeing a pattern here?).  As the mother of a teenager in high school, I have to pay for things my parents didn’t, and while it’s still much less than it was for my friends who had teenagers in high school in California, when did public education stop being free?  To cover the cuts in Brewer’s budget to U of A, ASU, and NAU, the regents of all three schools proposed tuition hikes last March:  18.8% at ASU, 20.4% at Arizona, and 15.7% at NAU (these are just the undergrad hikes, mind you).  So, tuition is going up, but families are spending more for healthcare…so more students in debt. And when they do get jobs, they’ll still have to spend more of their paycheck for healthcare. Gosh, that’s a great idea, Jan.

But community colleges are being hit especially hard, while enrollments are increasing.  As the president of the community college I teach at noted, percentage wise, community colleges are taking the brunt of Brewer’s education cuts.  My school alone will lose  78.6% of its state funding.  Instead of the $4 million we were slated to get, we’d get only $900 thousand.  That’s over $3 million simply…gone.  Our enrollments have increased an average of over 10% every semester, yet we are being asked to do without over 3/4 of our budget.  That’s ridiculous.

And about those business tax cuts.  In the last three years, business tax revenue is down 57%.  But Brewer wants $25 million to ‘recruit’ new business to the state.  She also wants to cut the corporate tax rate to 4.5%, which is the same as the highest personal income tax bracket, and lower than the surrounding states (Utah is at 5%, and Colorado is at 4.6%).  This, she argues, would bring new business to the state.  Here’s the problem with this plan…education isn’t funded.  Which means these businesses wouldn’t have an employee base to work with.  So why would any business want to come here, when they can’t find employees qualified to work for them?  Brewer doesn’t answer that question, or why she’s still pushing a failed economic model.  Trickle-down economics have NEVER worked.  Not in the 80s, and not now.

Brewer does have a back up plan of a sort.  She wants to up the budget for prisons.  By $8.4 million.  So I guess those poor people could get healthcare, after all.  By going to prison.  Way to go, Jan.  This is a brilliant plan.

Published in: on January 19, 2011 at 10:28 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Stupid is as stupid does…for REAL.

    Blows my mind!

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