by Jim Nintzel
Is Sine Die around the corner? The latest from Rep. Steve Farley:
Howdy, Friends O'Farley…
Could they really be that foolhardy?
I know that is a question that may have entered your mind from time to time regarding the Governor and Legislative majority. And recent history has seemed to suggest an affirmative answer more often than not.
But their latest idea, if they carry it out, could well destroy our healthcare system and economy along with it.
We hear that Governor Brewer is trying to arrange a Sine Die — the final end of regular session — as early as this week. This normally would not be a bad thing because it would have the effect of killing a whole lot of really bad bills.
But this year, it would also have the effect of shutting down any efforts to restore KidsCare health insurance for 38,000 kids. Which would in turn have the effect of turning down the $7 billion a year we get from the Federal Government to provide AHCCCS health care to people in poverty.
That money goes to doctors, hospitals, and many
other key components in the Arizona economy. Nursing homes and assisted living centers would close down, tossing thousands of seniors onto the streets —40% of their funding comes from this federal money. Tens of thousands of Arizonans would lose their jobs. Hospitals and emergency rooms may be unable to stay open.
In short, refusing to reinstate KidsCare would trigger a chain of events that would lead to a total economic meltdown.
Why would the Governor even consider doing this? Because she has a hotly contested Republican primary, and her advisers are afraid that restoring healthcare to kids would be seen as too squishy-liberal to primary voters. Once the primary is over, she would — the story goes — go ahead and restore KidsCare to be seen as reasonable to moderate general election voters.
The problem is, the primary is too late. KidsCare must be restored before June 15 in order to avoid sanctions from the Feds.
In the best-case scenario, we would "only" lose $1.3 billion — $19 million a day — for the time without KidsCare between June 15 and August 25. Coincidentally, it will cost no more than $19 million (one day's worth of the lost revenues) to insure all 38,000 kids for a year. And that $19 million is already coming to us in the new stimulus package recently signed by President Obama, so we don't have to pay for that either.
In the worst-case scenario, that 3-month drop of KidsCare coverage will lose us $7 billion a year for the foreseeable future.
Could they really be that foolhardy?
Here's another sign that could be taken for an answer: Speaker Adams has unveiled the latest version of the Republican majority's corporate bailout bill, formerly HB2250. You will recall that this was the top goal of House Republicans: a package of huge tax cuts to big (mostly out-of-state) corporations and the rich which would also raise property taxes on middle-class homeowners. And it would grow our deficit by another $1 billion per year.
Even Senate President Burns had heartburn over the proposal's budget-busting nature, so he has been holding it up and demanding changes before he would move it through. It appears that he has decided that he is now satisfied with the changes because it will be heard tomorrow in the Senate Finance committee in amended form.
What's it look like now? They did remove the personal income tax cut for the rich, but they retained the big corporate income tax cuts, the elimination of the education property tax, and the big property tax cuts for corporations. That last element has the effect of shifting the tax burden to residential homeowners.
So what we have is a bill that will raise all our property taxes in order to fund a huge corporate bailout.
That is by their own admission the number-one priority of the Republican caucus this year.
That is also one of the many reasons that we all need to work as hard as we can to elect a Democratic majority and a Democratic governor this November.