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Arizonans Speak Out on Education, Social Programs at Forums

Arizona State Rep. Justin Olson goes over budget figures with constituents attending a state budget  forum in Tucson last weekend. (Michelle Crow/Children’s Action Alliance)
Arizona State Rep. Justin Olson goes over budget figures with constituents attending a state budget forum in Tucson last weekend. (Michelle Crow/Children’s Action Alliance)
March 8, 2016

TUCSON, Ariz. - A diverse group of taxpayers is telling Arizona lawmakers they want them to resolve budget shortfalls in public education, health insurance and social services.

They spoke out at legislative forums, hosted by Representative Justin Olson, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, where Olson and other lawmakers got feedback from constituents as they head into the late stages of the current session.

Michelle Crow, Southern Arizona director of the Children's Action Alliance, says dozens of people told the lawmakers that years of tax cuts are hurting Arizonans.

"People are really starting to connect the tax cuts," she says. "To the lack of funding for education and other services that they want to see reestablished."

Crow says many of the speakers encouraged legislators to resolve the education funding crisis, restore the KidsCare program and to back away from any further tax cuts or tax credits.

Forums were held over the weekend in Tucson and in Saddlebrooke, with similar sessions held in February in Gilbert and Glendale.

Attendees ranged from millennials and young parents to retirees. Crow says one senior summed up the comments of many at the meeting.

"She said, 'I'm going to ask that you would consider the ongoing tax cuts.' And she said 'We need to stabilize the economy now, and taxation needs to be a part of the solution. And taxation needs to be fair, equitable and sustainable,' and that was her quote," says Crow.

Olson and the other legislators at the forums said they will take the comments into consideration as they finalize the state budget, but made no promises to act on them.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ