In the world of conservative ideology: down is up, bad is good, and “red” means more “green.”
So, it’s really no surprise when GOP-run states go into the red with their state budgets, it’s labeled a “success.”
Yesterday, Arizona joined Kansas, Wisconsin, and Louisiana in the “trickle-down experiment” club, after Arizona’s new leader, Gov. Doug Ducey, along with a right-leaning legislative body, passed a tight budget that fulfilled his campaign promise to cut spending so the administration could eventually cut income and corporate taxes in the Saguaro state — the budget addressed a projected $520 million deficit, which was expected to balloon to $1 billion by 2016, thanks to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer’s “exceptional” leadership.
Arizona state law requires that governors must balance the budget every year.
The result: education funding, children’s services and health care spending were gutted. In 2009, these same services took a beating when Arizona went into a $1.6 billion deficit during the recession — the cuts were so drastic state parks and rest stops were closed, education took nearly a billion in cuts and childless people could not receive food stamps or healthcare no matter how dire their situation in most cases.
This is how student spending looked in AZ before the latest cuts, as you can see AZ was already one of the stingiest states when it comes to education:
Now, after having six years to recover from the recession the state budget is still in the red, unemployment still above the national average at 6.6 percent, and Arizonans who finally got the medical attention they needed when Gov. Brewer expanded Medicaid, live in fear that Gov. Ducey will make good on his promise to end the healthcare expansion in his state.
Students and children pay for the rich to get richer.
The budget that was passed decreased spending by 2.4 percent in the areas of education (K-12 and University), health care, social services and infrastructure. A $3.3 million increase to cover a projected increase in child neglect and abuse cases was also categorically rejected by the ever so compassionate GOP legislative body.
Students wrote letters to Gov. Ducey saying that they wanted improved schools, but the heartless governor ignored their pleas and made the deep cuts anyway.
One student, a fifth-grader, wrote:
I think you should help kids get more supplies for their schools so they could work and be creative. You should see kids at poor schools to see how to help.
Gov. Ducey’s website says he will eventually try to cut income taxes to zero despite the spending cuts.
This is the same strategy that put Kansas into financial crisis this year when Gov. Brownback cut income taxes for the top earners in his state in 2011 and eliminated billions of dollars in revenue from his state coffers. Gov. Brownback is also making his own cuts to education to bridge the deficit, even though Kansas students, like Arizona students, are among the most under-funded students in the nation.
Cutting services is the goal, and it is considered success when the one-percent benefits.
I’ve reported on this very same scenario spanning several states under extreme GOP leadership, and Republicans employing Reaganomics is not exactly a new idea, but what seems new is the utter carelessness in which these governors are willing to stay the course and push forward despite staggering evidence that cutting taxes for the rich does not strengthen a state’s economy.
With students who test well below the national average, decreased average wages, crumbling infrastructure, and the unemployment rate recovering at a turtle’s pace compared to the national average, one would think these governors could make the rich wait just a bit longer, but no, these GOP governors have to give the Koch brothers what they paid for no matter the cost to society.
Moderate republicans are even saying these dunces have gone too far and are acting irresponsibly. Democrats say tax cuts should happen once the economy is stabilized so social programs won’t have to suffer cuts, making it a win-win situation, but a world where poor or needy families win isn’t the kind of world these Koch-bought politicians want.
Ducey has also pledged to cut corporate taxes to stimulate job growth, but as we’ve seen in Gov. Brownback’s state and also in Louisiana after Gov. Jindal cut taxes for businesses, their job market is moving at a snails pace, which means tax cuts don’t actually create more jobs. Gov. Jindal inherited a budget surplus and turned it into a ballooning deficit, he’s admitted this is all part of the plan to starve the beast.
In an interview with The New York Times, Jindal plainly admits:
We made an explicit decision and commitment that we were going to cut the government, the public sector economy, as opposed to the private sector economy. We made the intentional policy decision we think it’d be better to shrink government and cut taxes. That’s unusual for Louisiana.
But if you look at high-performing blue states — who don’t hand out tax welfare to an entitled upper class — they have a state full of intelligent children who are able to go on to higher education. These states, such as Minnesota, have a strong economy, a budget surplus, low unemployment rates, higher wage averages and a diminished lower class.
The right-wing, who considers themselves the patron saints of fiscal responsibility, have become desperate in their mission to prove that Reaganomics work — whatever the cost.
And as the old cliche goes, at some point the chickens will come home to roost. This means a defunct adult population, ballooning poverty, rampant unemployment, outsourcing jobs, a shaky economy, homelessness, high dropout rates, high teen pregnancy rates, high crime statistics, etc. The list goes on and on.
The stakes are incredibly high in this conservative utopia experiment the Koch brothers are waging on our country. So ask yourselves, what is more valuable: A nation full of capable, well-rounded and healthy children raised by healthy parents with good jobs or an incredibly wealthy one percent?