Well We Have a Budget Finally, and Guess What? We're Still Screwed!
After Arizona Governor Jan Brewer approved the majority of the Legislature's budget plan Friday, the question still looms: How the hell are we gonna pay for it?!
Despite a laundry list of cuts, and concessions, the state is still well short of being able to pay for the programs still on the books.
"Certainly, it is not balanced," Brewer told reporters Friday. "It continually gets worse. We need to do more cutting. We need additional revenues."
Of the cuts, here are some of most notable, compliments of The Arizona Guardian:
• Eliminates domestic-partner benefits for state employees, which means roughly 800 people will lose their health insurance.
• Eliminates the KidsCare parents program, costing nearly 10,000 parents of children on the health-insurance program their coverage, effective Oct. 1.
• Allows DES to reduce income eligibility for subsidized child care. About 7,000 eligible families, who earn up to 165 percent of the federal poverty level, currently are on a waiting list.
• Allows the Department of Health Services to increase licensing fees for health care, child care, and other facilities regulated by the state, with the goal of having the licensing division become self-funded through fees on more than 7,200 facilities.
• Reduces the DHS budget by $30 million, including $11 million in lump-sum cuts, representing about 5 percent of the agency's general fund budget. Brewer said Friday she vetoed cuts to DES and not DHS, which includes behavioral health, because the former has been hit harder by budget cuts
• Allows private companies to operate state prisons, with the exception of the Yuma State Prison complex. The concession agreement, estimated to generate $100 million, is opposed by Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan and his prison officers.
• Privatizes correctional health services at Arizona state prisons by May 1. A request for information is to be issued by Oct. 1 and a request for proposals by Jan 1.
• Requires AHCCCS reimbursement rates for health care provided to inmates at hospitals and other facilities outside the prison system, for estimated savings of $26 million.
• Authorizes the Department of Administration to sell and lease back state building and other properties to raise $735 million. The list of facilities on the auction block could include the House and Senate buildings and state prisons."
Stay tuned, however; considering the fact that the state is still at least a $1 billion short of what it needs for its current spending plan, and has no logical plan to increase revenue, this list will certainly be growing.
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