Legislative Democrats fought hard for a 4% pay raise for teachers and a clean restoration of TANF benefits for needy families, but Republicans rammed through other budget "priorities."
House Democrats Disappointed by Republicans' Partisanship
The House Democratic leaders, Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix (District 27), Democratic Assistant Leader Randall Friese, D-Tucson (District 9), and Democratic Whip Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma (District 4), released the following statement about the recent budget vote:
"The budget process gives the Legislature an opportunity to invest in our state. Democrats are committed to building a future based on our shared values. Our hardworking public school teachers deserve more respect and appreciation than they have received from Republican state leaders. That is why we advocated for a budget that prioritized them with a four percent raise. We also worked for equity in our schools, affordable college tuition and accessible health care. Our policy proposals were designed to move us toward a strong, sustainable future.
"These ideas never received proper consideration. Republicans instead focused on protecting special interests with a budget that leaves students, teachers and struggling families behind, and ensures that the rich will continue to get richer. They ignored opportunities to develop bipartisan solutions, and opted for their usual, out-of-touch talking points instead of substantive policy.
"We are not deterred or disheartened. The Republicans have misplaced priorities that have created crisis in our state. Democrats remain committed to making Arizona a place where all families can successfully live, study, work and play for generations."
Senate Democrats: Budget prioritizes partisanship over greater good
Leaders of the Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statement on the passage of this session's budget:
"A state's budget reflects the priorities of those in power and the priorities of Arizona's Republican legislators and governor are crystal clear.
Governor Ducey and Republican legislative leaders had every opportunity to work together with Democratic legislators, who represent more than 40% of our state, to find realistic solutions to the real problems facing our state.
But they chose to ignore us.
For weeks, legislative Democrats offered our support for Governor Ducey's forward-thinking university bonding plan. With our cities and counties held harmless, his plan is a reasonable start to restoring the billions of dollars Republicans have cut from our state universities.
But he chose to put partisanship over collaboration.
Without the full support on bonding from Republican legislators, Governor Ducey needed our votes. For our support, we asked for a meaningful four percent raise for Arizona teachers, who have the lowest salaries in the nation, and a clean restoration of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to 24 months.
Instead of prioritizing Arizona's struggling families and hard-working teachers, Governor Ducey chose to spend your hard-earned tax dollars buying off Republicans with $1 million to the Koch brothers' pet project at ASU, $10 million in tax cuts and a petty swipe at cities.
Governor Ducey proclaimed in his state of the state speech, "Along with Leaders Hobbs and Rios, I’m excited to continue working together on areas of common ground."
It's hard to imagine, but Governor Ducey must not consider teachers, the working poor and our universities to be areas of common concern.
The priorities reflected in this purely Republican budget are that of partisanship over democracy, special interests over the public interest and hollow talking points over meaningful substance.
Legislative Democrats, by contrast, have always stood for Arizona's poor, our students and teachers, our universities, our public servants and our businesses. We strive every day to serve all Arizonans.
Such was our intention with our gesture of bipartisanship, a missed opportunity to collaborate for the greater good of Arizona because of wrong priorities."