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Ducey unveils $10.1 billion state budget
Sierra Vista Herald ^ | Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services

Posted on 01/16/2018 6:57:28 AM PST by SandRat

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey unveiled at $10.1 billion spending plan for next budget year built on projections of more consumer spending, Arizonans buying more lottery tickets and hiring back many of the auditors who ensure that people are paying the state what they owe, auditors the governor previously laid off.

As Ducey promised earlier in the week, most of the new spending is earmarked for K-12 education. That specifically includes restoring $100 million to the special account that schools can use for things like textbooks, computers and buses.

The cuts to that fund started before Ducey became governor. But he added to the problem with his own $117 million reduction the first year he took office.

Ducey promises future increases to fully restore at least that specific fund.

The governor's plan also provides $34 million for the second year of the promised 2 percent over two years pay raise for teachers.

Gubernatorial press aide Daniel Scarpinato said this is on top of money schools received after voters approved Proposition 123 in 2016, creating a 9 percent increase in available dollars for teacher pay.

"Part of that has been to hire new teachers, which addresses the teacher shortage,'' he said, though Scarpinato said teacher pay is up 5 percent from 2015 levels.

Scarpinato could not say whether the money will come close to moving Arizona out of its position of being at 50th in the nation for pay for elementary school teachers and 48th for high school instructors, saying he prefers to focus on the trend.

"It's moving up,'' he said. "And it needs to move up even more.''

In higher education, Ducey wants $27 million for the state's three universities to make the first payment on that $1 billion, 28-year borrowing plan for new buildings and repairing older ones. The schools already have identified funding priorities, including the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences building at the University of Arizona, renovating the Hayden Library at Arizona State University and renovating the science annex and the multi-discipline STEMP building at Northern Arizona University.

And there's another $8 million the schools get to split up for whatever capital or operational needs they have.

State aid to community colleges, though, is virtually flat.

Other spending priorities include:

- $15.8 million to fully fund adoption subsidies for more than 33,000 children. There are more adoptions because the state is beginning to cut into the number of youngsters in foster and group care, providing permanent placements;

- $4.3 million for the Department of Public Safety. That includes adding additional night coverage in the Phoenix area to watch for wrong-way drivers and 12 staffers to finally provide round-the-clock DPS coverage in Southern Arizona;

- $4 million to convert Oracle State Park from a day site to allow overnight camping. The funds will add 30 RV sites, 20 cabins and 20 tent sites.

The governor also is proposing to more than double what the state spends on "preventative road surface maintenance,'' essentially repairing cracks and spreading liquid asphalt. The premise is this will forestall the need for major repairs and reconstruction, things that the governor admits the state cannot now afford what with the gasoline tax unchanged since 1990 at 18 cents a gallon, vehicles becoming more efficient and more motorists are driving hybrids and electric vehicles.

Ducey concedes in his budget that "the need for a stable and permanent revenue source to fund roads and bridges becomes even more critical.'' But Scarpinato said his boss remains opposed to any increase in the gas tax.

The governor's spending plan is built on Ducey's projections that the state will have more money coming in.

It starts with high consumer confidence. That is significant because when people are optimistic about the security of their jobs and possible future income growth, they tend to spend more.

That should translate into more retail spending. The unknown, however, is how the increasing number of online purchases may cut into that.

Then there's the plan by the lottery to put an additional 450 vending machines into stores and arrange with more retailers to have lottery cards at checkout lanes.

The net difference is Ducey is projecting a 20 percent increase in lottery revenues, to nearly $95 million.

And then there's the belief there's more money to be squeezed out of taxpayers.

That starts with the state contracting with an outside firm which will compare the credit card receipts of various companies — information not available to the state — with what the firms are reporting as their earnings to the state. If the former figure is significantly higher than what shows up on tax forms, that will trigger a closer look.

Ducey staffers believe they can generate $30 million from this program, even after the outside firm gets to keep 20 percent of what the state collects.

The administration also is reversing course and adding 25 auditors and collectors.

In 2016 the state cut the budget of the Department of Revenue by $7 million.

Agency officials said that forced the layoff of about 50 employees. It also left the department with one corporate audit supervisor and four corporate auditors.

But Scarpinato repeatedly sidestepped questions about whether those layoffs were a mistake.

"By working with (Department of) Revenue, we realize there are dollars to be had,'' he said.

And were there dollars that could have been had this current fiscal year?

"I would acknowledge that there's more dollars to be had moving forward,'' Scarpinato responded.

Overall, the state hopes to boost sales tax revenues by 4.1 percent, with a similar increase in individual income taxes.

Corporate income taxes are a different story: Companies are expected to pay less than $300 million this coming year.

That less than half of what they were paying seven years ago before lawmakers approved a series of tax sharp cuts on the premise it would generate more economic activity. And the Department of Revenue reports that three out of every four corporations pay no more than $50 a year in income taxes.

TOPICS: Education; Local News
KEYWORDS: lottery; taxes

1 posted on 01/16/2018 6:57:28 AM PST by SandRat
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To: SandRat

Squeeze those AZ taxpayers so they can keep spending $2.4Billion annually on their illegal alien population.
Texas is currently squeezing its taxpayers for the $11 Billion we pay, while CA is the most generous of all, with a whopping $23 Billion.
Democrats think this is fine as long as it buys them future voters. Republicans are the really stupid ones to go along with this suicidal scam.

2 posted on 01/16/2018 7:04:47 AM PST by txrefugee
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To: txrefugee

And much more if you live in Phoenix where tax and spend Stanton wants to increase taxes as well.

3 posted on 01/16/2018 7:18:27 AM PST by hsmomx3
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To: SandRat

This type of behavior on the part of Ducey, is why no-one should expect an actual conservative to be appointed by Ducey when McCain dies.

4 posted on 01/16/2018 7:34:05 AM PST by SoConPubbie (Mitt and Obama: They're the same poison, just a different potency)
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To: SandRat

The real answer to fixing education is to remove all illegals, cut k-4 elementary class sizes to 12 kids, add teaching assistants to classes with special needs students or those on free and reduced lunch ( the underperforming group on benchmark tests).

Now, for teacher pay, all states have longevity and educational pay raises built in to their pay schedules. In poor Arkansas teachers receive 2.5 % for breathing another year and 2.5% every time they increase their graduate hours by 15 hours.

For the industrious teacher, a professional in their craft, one can be personally responsible for an annual pay increase of 5%.

When states raise teacher pay above the legislatively approved pay schedules the impact is not to the current budget, but to the retirement system. Most educational schedules are designed for an educator to work thirty years and then retire. About twenty years in longevity stops increasing and is usually increased through COLA increases or minimum 1-1.5% increases.

As in the military or gov service, retirement is usually based somewhere around 50% of highest three years pay. In Arkansas for instance this would mean a starting teacher @ $35,000 would fill all squares, teach thirty years, retire having earned about $70,000 their top three years ( with Masters and Doctorate).

To read between the lines, a public school teacher will retire with a check roughly equal to their entry salary when they began teaching.

When school boards or other gov agencies increase pay outside of changing legislative pay scales, they blow up the retirement systems down the road.

The public schools are inundated with customers (students) they should not be servicing, are not budgeted for, and cannot properly service. The result is again, the liberal premise that we must keep and maintain a permanent underclass in society for any number of reasons for strung out or perverted thinkers ( using this term loosely, very loosely).

What would be wrong with an educational system that taught all students to read proficiently and think critically? Perhaps crime would all but disappear, heaven forbid, this would kill the prison systems, layoffs, No Lawyer Fees, Fewer Judges, No Bond agents, no ‘Tough on crime’ political position to take. Graduates that can read their diplomas (The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, The Declaration of Independence) and have the skills for a global economy centered in America!

This is why President Trump is hated, he has large vision and big dreams. Anything is possible in the mind of a True American. Change your thinking, change your future, MAGA!

5 posted on 01/16/2018 7:42:20 AM PST by Billyv (Freedom isn't Free! Get off the sidelines!)
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