The carnage continues.
The Arizona Senate this week threw a tantrum and called it a budget.
Tragically, our own Sen. Sylvia Allen joined in the mayhem.
Every single Republican in the Senate voted for a draconian budget that added $600 million in cuts to the deep reductions Gov. Jan Brewer has already proposed.
If the House adopts the Senate’s budget and Gov. Brewer swallows her principles and signs it, the universities, public schools, cities and towns and the sick and impoverished will all suffer.
Payson’s attempt to convince ASU to build a campus here would go down in flames.
And Payson schools would have to double down on already devastating cuts that would close a school and significantly increase class sizes.
In theory, the architects of the Senate budget plan have a good point. Gov. Brewer relied on fund transfers, deferred payments and loans to close about a third of the projected budget deficit. The Senate leadership instead vowed to swear off such financial juggles and adopt a truly balanced budget.
But from that reasonable premise, they came to completely unreasonable conclusions.
First, even though we also hate the fiscal gimmicks — we agree with Gov. Brewer’s willingness to keep the juggler’s balls in the air for one more year.
Second, we believe the Legislature and the governor should solve the current crisis with a mix of reasonable spending cuts and revenue increases.
Instead, the ideologues in the Legislature actually increased the deficit with a big bundle of tax breaks for business, then focused solely on spending cuts.
Granted, the state’s future relies on luring new job-generating businesses to the state and must compete with other states for those industries.
However, we cannot lure those businesses if we cripple our universities and dismantle our public schools. The cuts contained in the Senate budget brim with such self-destructive economies.
The Senate isn’t tightening our belts — it’s tightening the noose around our necks.
We simply cannot make such drastic cuts in public education when we’re already dead last in per-student funding.
We simply cannot afford to gut the universities, if we expect the economy to recover. Our three public universities provide almost all the college degrees in the state. They’ve already doubled their tuition, locking many students out. If these cuts take effect, they’ll also have to limit enrollment for the first time in state history.
And if that’s not enough, the Senate plan also steals money from counties and towns — burying the problem but not solving it.
We urge you to contact Sen. Sylvia Allen’s office to protest this foolish budget. Urge her to support Gov. Jan Brewer’s alternative budget.
Perhaps more importantly — we urge you to contact our two representatives in the House. You’ll find the contact information for Rep. Chester Crandell and Rep. Brenda Barton above.
Please contact them today to oppose the Senate budget. Then buttonhole your friends and family — and get them to write, call or e-mail as well.
The future of this town — and every child in this state — hangs in the balance.