We finished this year’s legislative session in record time on April 20th at 5:25am. We had many challenges and got much accomplished. We passed a “Jobs Bill” to bring high paying jobs into Arizona, we balanced the budget without adding new debt, and we passed major pension reforms that will make our public pension systems more sustainable. I am proud to have been part of the leadership team that helped accomplish these goals.
Balancing our state budget was the biggest challenge we faced. While the federal government was arguing over cutting less than 1% of their budget, Arizona closed a gap of over 12%. The decisions were not easy, but ones that had to be made.
Summary of Spending Reductions as a percentage of their total funding:
1. AHCCCS (free healthcare): 20.7%
2. Dept. of Health Services: 9.1%
3. Community Colleges: 6.1%
4. Universities: 4.7%
5. K-12 Education: 2.1%
6. Dept. of Economic Security: 1.3%
It is important to note several factors:
- 1 out of every 5 Arizonans are on AHCCCS. It is more generous than 44 other states.
- AHCCCS reductions will be made through attrition, fraud reduction, and co-pays.
- 42% of our state budget is spent on K-12 education, much more than any other agency.
- K-12 education reductions were made in non-classroom areas
- 48% of ASU students attend school for free. According to a Board of Regents statement, 40% of a students tuition goes to subsidize other students tuition. I don’t know about you, but I think all students should pay something toward their tuition. That way, other students wouldn’t have to pay so much and tuition probably wouldn’t have to be raised.
I welcome your input and suggestions and I am willing to meet with you or give you a legislative tour. In fact, I just gave a tour to a great group of Red Hat Ladies from our district. In addition, I’d love to speak to your group. I have spoken to school groups, Rotary clubs, Elks clubs, etc. I hope to hear from you soon.