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Governor Signs Deeper Education, Social Service Cuts

November 25, 2009

PHOENIX - Another $300 million in cuts to K-12 education and social programs have been signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer. The cuts were adopted by lawmakers during a weeklong special session to help deal with a $2 billion state budget deficit.

Schools will lose money for new books, desks, computers and buses, says Tim Schmaltz. The director of the Protecting Arizona's Family Coalition, Schmaltz calls the cuts "devastating."

"It's upsetting and frustrating that they continue to take it out on families and the most vulnerable and the future with our public education system by doing this. It's not necessary."

Schmaltz and others have proposed a list of measures they say could raise up to $6 billion in additional state revenue.

Brewer and Republican legislative leaders say they plan to make more budget cuts next month. Republicans, who control both House and Senate in the Arizona Statehouse, insist that keeping taxes low will promote the economic growth needed to bring the state out of recession. But Schmaltz believes cutting too deeply can kill growth.

"Who's going to want to do business here if they can't get their children educated, or their sister can't find a domestic violence shelter, or there isn't alcoholism treatment for their brother and there isn't child care for their grandchildren. I mean, who's going to want to live here?"

Schmaltz says the state should adjust its tax structure to fit its revenue needs, even if that means some folks end up paying more.

"We need to have a revenue base that supports education, universities, public health, public safety, the most vulnerable. Those are only civilized things to do. I hope Arizona is still a civilized state."

Lawmakers are still discussing whether a one-cent state sales tax hike should be put on the ballot next spring.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ