Arizona’s forgotten investment - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

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Arizona’s forgotten investment

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Posted: Saturday, April 9, 2011 2:00 pm

When one examines the Arizona State Legislature it is clear that the leadership of our state has confused tax cuts with investments.

In February, the Legislature passed a business tax cut plan that will lead to an annual loss of $538 million in state revenue when it is fully implemented. In a time where our state faces a massive budget shortfall, I am confused as to why more tax cuts for wealthy corporations in our state were ever a part of the governor's economic plan. These tax cuts have never been proven to create jobs, and they have expanded a budget shortfall that will be remedied by a new budget that will do exactly the opposite.

In fact, as multiple Democrats in the state Legislature have pointed out, the Republican budget plan that was passed last week will cost Arizona thousands of jobs that our economy needs. By cutting more than $500 million from Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), Arizona's state version of the federal Medicaid program, (and, therefore, surrendering almost $1 billion in federal funds that match state investments) the state Legislature has threatened more than 13,000 health care jobs. But the Legislature did not stop with health care. Republican leaders, in the face of a public who voted overwhelming to protect educational funding by passing Proposition 100 last year, ignored those voices, and slashed another $148 million from K-12 education, and $235 million from Arizona's universities. These cuts are not just a number - they are teachers and supplies, they impact classroom size and technology development - they are a true barrier to an investment that corporations place a heavy focus on.

Last week, Intel's former CEO outlined the reality that if he had a chance to re-do his plan for Intel expansion, he would not invest in Arizona, because this state has not invested in critical programs like education and health care.

Around the country, states of every size are facing massive budget shortfalls - that is fact. However, to ignore investment in education and health care in order to give wealthy corporations larger tax cuts and loopholes is a disservice to Arizona, and to our future. The Republican super-majority ignored any proposal that would have generated increased revenue for our state - because they wanted to preserve the tax havens that corporations have unjustly been given. Their reckless leadership, and closed-door budget plan, is bad for Arizona - it will cost our state jobs, it will hurt thousands of Arizonans in need of health care, and it will place an unjust burden on our education system - destroying the investment in our future - and threatening the progress of our state.

• Chase Williams is a senior at Arizona State University, majoring in political science. He is treasurer of the Maricopa County Working Young Democrats and a precinct captain for the Foothills Precinct.

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