Flagstaff, AZ – Governor Janet Napolitano delivered a wide-ranging, 45 minute state of the state address yesterday in Phoenix. She outlined a host of proposals, but didn't address how the state would pay for them, saying she'll release her budget later this week. Arizona Public Radio's Daniel Kraker reports.
The governor devoted the bulk of her speech to education and the effects of the state's rapid growth on transportation, water and housing. But she made perhaps her boldest proposal in health care.
This year, we will make sure that every Arizona child under 19, and whose family makes less than $60,000 per year, has affordable health care through AHCCCS and our KidsCare program.
Napolitano didn't specify how the state would pay for that coverage but she did pledge there would be no new taxes. Darcy Olsen, president of the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix, isn't sure that's possible.
By our estimates that we've done, if the state of the AZ were to expand the health system the way the governor proposed, the cost of Access would be $9 billion by 2009, that's the same amount as our current general fund spending, so where this money is going to come from is anyone's guess.
Olsen also took issue with the governor's plan to free up $400 million for highway construction by extending the state's transportation bonds from 20 to 30 years.
"The people of flagstaff should be aware that under these plans, flag residents will be paying for PHX commuters, they'll be subsidizing the growth of Phoenix."
The governor said all her initiatives could be accomplished without raising taxes by one dime. She's expected to release her budget, balanced, she says, later this week.
For AZ Public Radio, I'm Daniel Kraker