Last week Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R-Unconscious) said she was staking her reputation on education. When she made that absurd comment about headless bodies in the desert last year, officials couldn't find any. They'll probably have just as much trouble finding her reputation.
"If you said you were going to stake your reputation on education and for the third straight year in a row we're cutting education, well, where's your reputation?" said [Andrew] Morrill, who heads the state's largest teachers' union. Arizona Republic
Thursday, Arizona joined Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and other states that are balancing corporate tax breaks on the backs of teachers and sick people. The difference in Arizona is that when the headlines mention a "compromise budget," they're referring to a deal between wingnut Brewer, the wingiernut House, and the full-blown-nut Senate, which is controlled by that bigoted hair ball, Russell Pearce. Hack! Democrats, who are outnumbered 2:1 in both chambers, don't figure into the "compromise."
Two weeks ago Pearce's Senate passed a vicious budget that cut schools, healthcare, and nearly every state program to the marrow. The education package passed Thursday by the House, which was slightly less draconian Senate version, included a $183 million cut to K-12, nearly $100 million more than Brewer's proposal, but not quite up to Pearce's $242 million budget axe.
The deal "stake my reputation" Brewer agreed to last night cuts $179 million from the schools. Arizona is already ranked 49th in nearly every significant education indicator, whether it's graduation rates or pupil-to-teacher ratios, so these deeper cuts are sure to help the state build the 21st-century knowledge economy leaders keep yammering about.
There's your "compromise": crazy, crazier, dumbfucking nuts. I'm sure Speaker of the House Kirk Adams really buoyed teachers and families when he said, "This is not a decimation of education." Well, that's certainly heartening. We haven't completely shut down the state's education system. We're not Somalia. Yet.
Along with the K-12 cuts, the compromise whacks another $198 million from the universities' budgets -- $28 million more than what that reputation staker Brewer had proposed. A few weeks ago the universities were told to brace for $100 million in cuts, which is what they planned for. Okay guys, with all your college smarts, figure out how to nearly double that.
Russell Pearce Does New Math
Earlier this week business leaders issued a plea to the Governor and legislature, asking them to not gut education even more:
The former chief executive of Intel Corp. told legislative and business leaders Tuesday Arizona won't be a real magnet for new business until it turns out more qualified high school and college graduates....
"The education system here is very weak," said Doug Pruitt, chief executive of Sundt Construction. Arizona Daily Star
Judy Wood, who manages a call center, said she cannot find high school graduates who are qualified. She runs a friggin' call center! Senator Pearce responded to the CEOs by demonstrating why Arizona needs better schools, because he clearly doesn't have a handle on the math thing:
"We're probably running in the middle, in the average," Pearce said. And he said part of that is due to "demographics," specifically the large percentage of students in school for whom English is not their first language.
Sure, 49 is near the "middle" of 50. And in case Pearce forgot to remind you 12 times today already, every problem is the Hispanics' fault.
More Stuff Not Decimated
Another $510 million in cuts will "not decimate" the state's Medicaid program. How they'll get there is anyone's guess, as the legislature has essentially said, "Here's the number, figure it out." Whatever, more than 1 million Arizonans served by Medicaid, half of them children, are looking at higher co-pays and enrollment policies that'll throw thousands of families off the rolls.
Sleight-of-hand economics are also part of the "compromise" -- this time a compromise between the state and counties. The legislature is asking counties to pony up for police, highway construction, parks, prisons, and hospitals -- calling it a "local contribution." Well shit, let's just toss everything to the cities and counties and declare the state budget balanced! And you gotta love this neat trick: the legislature will "sweep" millions in entry fees that state parks collect, but eliminate their budget entirely! Parks, you can pay us for the privilege of not giving you anything. Genius.
Now these "compromises" will go to the Governor, who's been staking her reputation on education, you see. Last year Arizona voters even passed a tax hike to save the schools. That worked. While Jan's been doing all that staking, she eliminated the Department of Commerce and replaced it with a private-public gang of CEO-friendlies whose first act was to end capital gains taxes and introduce new corporate tax cuts totaling $538 million.
Oh, there's your reputation. In the shitter. Along with the state.