It’s not always sunny in Arizona

I woke up this morning to an e-mail from the Governor’s Office announcing that Arizona legislators passed a “fiscally-responsible” budget. What the GOP legislators joined by Sen. Carlyle Begay (D) did is both disingenuous and very irresponsible. First, let’s not forget that this has been a manufactured budget crisis very intentionally brought to us by the Republican legislators through corporate tax cuts. Second, our own district representatives—Barton, Allen, and Thorpe supported this ill-conceived budget and contributed significantly to the erosion of the state revenue that left the budget structurally unbalanced. Third, Sen. Begay traded his peoples’ values for a $1.2 million dollar infrastructure project to benefit the Navajo Nation in the short term but devastate his community in the long-run by the cuts to Medicaid and higher education in particular.

This budget is touted as bi-partisan. So before going any further, let’s stop using the word bi-partisan as a synonym of something inherently good. It’s an empty phrase attempting to legitimize a policy stance. (Remember, the Iraq war received a bi-partisan support too. Yet, there was nothing good about it then and now we know with certainty how much suffering and hatred it brought to the world.)

As a Councilmember, taxpayer, and a voter I am outraged over what the Arizona GOP and the Governor did to Arizona citizens and you should be too. Let’s consider what this package deal with a $99 million cut to the state universities means to Flagstaff specifically. For NAU, the cut will translate into a likely permanent loss in the state support base to the tune of about $17 million. The university just released its Economic Impact Study—every $1 spent by the university generates nearly $4 of economic impact statewide. That $17 million cut will siphon out about $38 million from the local economy. Every year.

Arizona’s GOP headed by Governor Ducey and everybody else who promises you to not raise taxes is misleading you. To paraphrase my dear good friend, when voters begin to recognize that “lower taxes” means they pay more for EVERYTHING, we might see saner governing. To put this into perspective, in fall 2007 when state provided 40 percent of the university’s total budget, tuition for Arizona residents was $4,964. Today, when the state support dwindled to about 22 percent of the institution’s total budget, the resident tuition is $9,989. Corporations are getting tax breaks on the backs of our children, young people and elderly. That is the truth.