Courtesy of sesamestreetworkshop.org
Governor Doug Ducey and Senate President Andy Biggs must have been deprived of Sesame Street as children. Maybe their parents had something against any broadcasting that labeled itself "public." "Only free enterprise television for you, Doug and Andy. None of that socialist public TV propaganda!" What a shame.
You remember Sesame Street, right? Where children are valued over everything else, even by the grouchiest muppet? According to the Wikipedia entry on Oscar the Grouch
, which, in this one instance, I will trust without outside confirmation,
Oscar openly admits that he does not like anything or anybody that is nice, except young human children (the only people that he can actually act nice to without facing ridicule from his fellow Grouches).
Not so Ducey and Biggs, who think it's OK to preside over the only state without a health insurance program for children whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford medical care. Before 2010, 45,000 Arizona children were in the KidsCare program. After cuts to the program (which happened, not coincidentally, at the same time education funding was cut below the level mandated by the voters), less than 1,000 are in the program.
Remember that Sesame Street song, "One of these things is not like the other"? See if you can spot the "not like the other" element among the items in a Ducey statement about KidsCare.
“What we want is to make sure we are investing in our kids, we’re protecting them and we have a structurally balanced budget."
Hmm, which of those things is not like the other? Investing in our kids? Protecting our kids? Having a structurally balanced budget? I know, I know! It's number three, the structurally balanced budget. Because to maintain a balanced budget while protecting the surplus so he can cut taxes for his rich friends, Ducey can't invest in or protect our kids.
You'd be right to point out that KidsCare won't cost the state a penny until 2017 or later, so Ducey can allow kids to visit the doctor and still maintain his structurally balanced budget with money left over for tax cuts. But you know how kids, and people who advocate for kids, are. Give them medical care for a year or two, and they'll want it forever. And then where will the money come from?
Of course, there is a way to reinstate KidsCare now and into the future, and actually increase our education funding (not just use Prop 123 to bring the education budget up to 70 percent of what it was before it was cut illegally) while still maintaining a structurally balanced budget. Instead of giving more tax breaks to his rich friends who, by definition, are the least in need of tax breaks, Ducey and the Republican majority in the legislature can raise taxes on the most financially fortunate among us, who can well afford to pay a little more so we can do whatever we can to keep our children safe, healthy and well educated. Just like we learned on Sesame Street.