THIS BLOG is NOW RETIRED

I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

David Rovics: We Are Everywhere

To my fellow activists now struggling through life - let this be a reminder that you are not alone and that we desperately need you here. All the injustice, grief, war, and human suffering calls for us to stay and do everything we can about it - you can't help us anymore when you're gone. Don't give up the fight - your last shred of hope may just keep someone else alive, too.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AZ Budget Coalition Counters AZ LEGS

INTRODUCTION:(pdf)

Arizona’s Fiscal Imbalance is severe and applies to both the short term (FY 2010 and FY 2011) and the
mid/long term (FY 2012 and beyond). The magnitude of the difference between projected annual
revenues and expenditures in the next few years is at least $2 billion and may exceed $3 billion each
year for the foreseeable future.

Arizona’s budget deficit is incredibly large for several reasons. We have worsened the deficit by
shrinking our revenue base through a series of tax cuts enacted over the past two decades. In addition,
the national recession and the mortgage crisis have had a dramatic impact on our state and local
economies.

Governor Brewer and the state legislature have already enacted severe budget cuts to health, human
services, education, and jobs. Even more severe budget cuts are on the table with options prepared by
the state agencies that will further reduce benefits and services to Arizona’s citizens.

The Arizona Budget Coalition stands united in our call to executive and legislative leaders for a
comprehensive approach to balance our state budget. We urge our elected leaders to aggressively
pursue a combination of revenue options that will provide: 1) “Bridge Funding” in the short term (FY
2010 and FY 2011) to help Arizona get through the economic downturn while protecting education,
health and human services, and 2) Permanent Revenue increases for the long term to restore the state’s
fiscal balance between ongoing revenues and expenditures.

REVENUE OPTIONS: The Coalition believes that the following six Options should be pursued prior
to enacting further damaging budget cuts:

1) Monetize Revenue Streams. As has been successfully accomplished in many state and local
governments across the country, Arizona has the opportunity to monetize existing revenue streams. This
strategy provides a one-time lump sum for each revenue stream to help Arizona through the current
economic downturn. Prime candidates for monetization include revenue streams for the:

a) Lottery ($500 million)
b) Tobacco Settlement Agreement ($900 million)
c) Vehicle License Tax ($500 million)

These financial bridges would be used to help balance Arizona’s FY 2010 and FY 2011 budgets and
help avoid further damaging budget cuts.

2) Explore Health Care Provider Assessments (HCPA). There has been much discussion and
speculation in recent months regarding the feasibility of enacting a health care provider assessment with
some estimates of $500 million or more. Federal law permits states to collect revenues from certain
categories of health care providers or services – including hospitals, health insurers, and others – and use
the proceeds to draw down federal matching funds.

Federal matching dollars may be used to fund various activities including raising provider rates and paying for a portion of the state’s share of Medicaid programs. Currently 44 states have some type of a provider assessment. Given that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services must approve any health care provider assessment that seeks to draw down federal Medicaid matching funds, the ABC urges the Governor and the Legislature to pursue the feasibility of any HPCA with the intent that proceeds be realized in FY 2011 or as soon as practicable thereafter.

3) Restore DOR Auditing/Collections Staffing to FY 2000 FTE levels. The Department of
Revenue’s auditing and collections staff were reduced through layoffs in FY 2009 by 250 to 300
positions. Reinstating these positions and re-employing laid off workers by March 2010 will net the state
more than $125 million in revenue collections in FY 2011. Returning staffing levels at DOR to the
authorized FTE levels in FY 2000 will generate an additional $75 million for FY 2011, assuming that
new hires complete training by the start of FY 2011. It is unfair and irresponsible for revenue that is
owed to the state to go uncollected due to staffing shortages.

4) Approve Ballot Referendum for Tax Increase. To achieve long term fiscal balance in Arizona
between revenue and expenditures, a substantial permanent increase in tax revenues will be required.
Arizona voters will effectively be asked to restore funding that the state has lost through tax cuts enacted
over the past two decades. A permanent 1-cent increase in the sales tax rate with allowance for an
offsetting tax credit for low income families would raise up to $1 billion per year and represent a first
step in achieving long term fiscal balance for the state.

5) Encourage President and Congress to enact a second round of Fiscal Stabilization Funds for
States.
Once Congress and President Obama reach closure on the Health Insurance Reform package,
their attention will be refocused to other matters including the economy and a possible second round of
stimulus funding. We urge Governor Brewer to work with the National Governors Association (NGA)
and Arizona’s legislative leadership to work with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
and Arizona’s Congressional delegation to advance a second round of “Fiscal Stabilization” funds.
Additional federal aid could approach $1 to $3 billion for Arizona.

6) Adopt Other Revenue Options. There are several accounting changes, fund adjustments and agency
user fee increases that could collectively increase available revenue by in excess of $100 million. These
include: 1) Reinstatement of estimated sales tax threshold at 2006 level; 2) Agency fund balance
transfers; 3) Agency user fee changes; and 4) Reclaiming sales tax collection fee. In addition, there is
the possibility of modifying the private and public school tuition tax credits for corporations and
individuals.

CONCLUSION:

The Governor and the Legislature have the opportunity to minimize more permanently damaging budget
reductions that could potentially retard or even destroy Arizona’s future economy and the quality of life
so treasured by its citizens. The six Revenue Options above have the potential to provide up to
$6.7 billion in additional revenue to the state. The ABC believes the options are both doable and viable
in the short term while Arizona leaders take a long-term, comprehensive approach to achieve permanent
fiscal balance.

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