State Capitol News
4:32 am
Fri January 16, 2009

Budget Balancing Could Mean Deep Cuts to Education

Phoenix, AZ – The package is billed by Sen. Russell Pearce as just a list of options. But Pearce said the deficit -- $1.6 billion this year and $3 billion next year means most will be necessary. It would cut cash to public schools by $900 million. And, universities would lose 30 percent of state aid. Pearce said that's preferable to gimmicks and borrowing which balanced prior budgets. House Minority Whip Chad Campbell acknowledged that borrowing pushes the problem into the future, with interest. But he said that beats the alternative.

"What are we going to do if we ruin our education system for the next 20 years? These cuts to education will set us back competively both on a regional level and a global level. And when the downturn does end, and we know it's going to end soon, we will not be able to compete with any other state in the West, let alone the other growing economies of the world," said Campbell.

Campbell also wants to look at imposing the state sales tax on items and services now exempt. Pearce said hiking taxes instead of cutting spending is a non-starter for Republicans.

"Public spending doesn't spur the economy," says Campbell. "Private investment does. Public investment is simply more debt for the taxpayers, stealing more of their money to pay for programs they can't afford. What you do is you create an environment conducive to productivity and stimulation. And that's by lower taxes, lower regulation, not just business friendly but business promoting."

Gov. Janet Napolitano releases her own plan later today.