Samuel Richard: ‘This is a bad budget for Arizona’

A group of leaders from the education and human service communities gathered to deliver an important message to Gov. Doug Ducey and legislative leadership: this is a bad budget for Arizona.
Below are the remarks I made during the press conference. We continue to call on Gov. Ducey and legislative leadership to slow this process down:
For Arizona’s most vulnerable, the recovery from the Great Recession is not complete. In fact, by most measures, it has barely begun. It is under this backdrop that Gov. Ducey and legislative leadership have proposed yet another package of cuts to children, families and vulnerable adults across the Grand Canyon state.
Since the beginning of the Great Recession, essential health and human services funding has been gutted from the general fund. This string of exploratory surgeries has proven unsuccessful, detrimental and at its worst harmful to our most vulnerable populations.
Yet now with a fresh opportunity to find real solutions and chart a new path forward, some legislative leaders instead seem dead set on pushing a budget through at breakneck speed – no matter the cost to our most vulnerable.
Children, families, vulnerable adults – and taxpayers across Arizona – deserve a fully-funded safety net. But the community of service providers that those in need and taxpayers both depend on, cannot succeed at the funding levels proposed by the governor and legislative leadership. This network of provider organizations – hundreds, thousands of employers, both big and small – has been asked to care for more children, more families and more vulnerable adults since the Great Recession, while support from their partners at the state has only dwindled.
The Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition is a nonpartisan alliance representing this network of providers, and the people they serve. We stand united against this budget. The continued cuts to critical programs and services is no longer tenable. Since the Great Recession, this network of providers has retooled, reformed and restructured more times than previously thought possible – all in order to serve one more child, one more family, one more fellow Arizonan.
But further cuts – as proposed by Gov. Ducey and legislative leadership – remove this organizational creativity from the equation. The cuts in this proposal weaken the network of service providers to a level unthinkable. Unimaginable. Unjustifiable. 17,000 foster children? Soon to be our low-water mark. One in four children regularly experiencing food insecurity? A new benchmark to return to. One in five Arizona families living in poverty? Those numbers will only grow if this budget passes.
These figures don’t include the potential for job losses that would result from these cuts, because yes, this network of service providers employs 10s of thousands across Arizona – and represents nearly 10 percent of the state’s workforce.
And on the heels of an unprecedented multi-million-dollar tax break for the most cash-rich corporation in the world, Arizona’s leaders are at a loss to find the political courage necessary to fund essential programs and services.
The path to a vibrant community, the community that we know Gov. Ducey desires for the people of Arizona, the community that our legislative leaders desire for the people of Arizona. The path to a vibrant community is lit by the full restoration of essential health and human services.
We call on Gov. Ducey and legislative leadership to deeply consider the harm done to Arizona’s most vulnerable if this budget proposal passes. The community of providers, as well as the hundreds of thousands of people they collectively service, are depending on you to find the political courage to restore funding to Arizona’s safety net.
Samuel Richard
Coordinator and executive director
Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition

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