Arizona's Voters Deserve a Say in the State's Budget
The voices of voters are once again being silenced. After several moves that are undemocratic, lacking in transparency and clearly an attempt to rush through billions of dollars of taxpayer money with almost zero input from the public, the final floor vote is set for tomorrow morning.
At 5pm yesterday evening, the state legislature introduced its slate of budget bills publicly. The budget details, negotiated between the Governor’s Office and Republican Leadership, were released and committee hearings were held less than 24 hours later. The public had little to no chance to review the content, synthesize the material or share their feedback on an approximately $17 BILLION budget. This budget is made up of tax dollars paid for by you, the citizens of Arizona. This is a continuation of the pattern of silencing the voices of voters in recent years.
Worse, the House Appropriations committee, in a partisan move, immediately combined all 17 bills into one vote. And then limited members ability to ask questions of staff about the content. They allowed zero public comment on the measures. This even though members of the public had taken time to be present to testify.
Questions and concerns from Representatives as well as stakeholders and other members of the public had begun to bubble up, in particular about the long-term budget ramifications of the failure to place a cap or any meaningful oversight on the out-of-control expansion of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA’s).
Rather than hear or work to address those concerns in the only public forum the citizens have once budget bills are released, Committee leadership chose to close ranks and shut out dissent.
Children’s Action Alliance and the Arizona Center for Economic Progress believe strongly that citizens should take every opportunity to participate in the process of government and have their voice heard and that lawmakers have a duty to listen to those they represent, even the ones they disagree with.
*CAA and the AZ Center will have additional analysis of the budget proposal in the coming days.