by Jim Nintzel
State agencies are reporting the impacts of a 15 percent budget cut back to Gov. Jan Brewer. The cuts may be necessary since the state is facing a budget shortfall of $1.5 million, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
State agencies are proposing early release of convicted felons, eliminating health care for children of the working poor and ending programs to help students pass the AIMS test so they don't drop out as measures they would have to take if lawmakers balance the budget with sharp mid-year spending cuts.
The plans, made public today are in response to estimates by the governor's budget office that, even with already enacted spending cuts, revenues will still fall about $1 billion short of what is needed. As a result, Eileen Klein, director of the governor's Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting, asked state agencies to detail how they would deal with a 15 percent reduction in state funds.
Some of the most dramatic changes would be in the state prison system which would have to slash more than $153 million to take a 15 percent cut.
Corrections Director Charles Ryan said he can get some savings through administrative spending reductions. But Ryan said the real money gets saved by having fewer people behind bars.
The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System proposes to eliminate the Kids Care program which provides nearly free health care for more than 46,000 children of parents who earn too much to qualify for free coverage. For a family of three, that figure is $36,620 a year.
So are Republicans sure they'll hang onto control of the Legislature in 2010?