The budget battle this year once again left Arizona Democrats behind as state Republicans gained almost everything that they wanted. Governor Doug Ducey, who faced criticism when he slashed education budgets in 2015, pushed for increased funding for universities, which could help him in his bid for reelection in 2018. The funding increased research opportunities at schools like ASU, which both parties agree was a good measure. However, around $2 million went to the Koch brother’s centers at ASU, both of whom supported Ducey in his last gubernatorial election.
Issues like this caused state Democrats to oppose the budget from the beginning of the process, which left them with few of their requests. Their proposal for a 4% raise for teachers was denied, and although money did go to schools, soft capital funding was again ignored, which would provide schools with resources like books and buses.
Democrats also pushed for aid to the cash assistance program to support the poor, which was denied. Instead, Governor Ducey was able to pass a measure to cut taxes by up to $10 million overall in the next year, which raises concerns over where the money could’ve gone and who it could’ve helped.
One of the most concerning issues with the new budget was the move to defund Planned Parenthood, which was spearheaded by the conservative Center for Arizona Policy. Planned Parenthood Arizona, which is the largest sexual health organization in Arizona, accumulated over 50,000 visits in 2015 and 2016, of which 45,000 were for routine, preventative care. Defunding their organization this upcoming year indicates that House Republicans are once again not concerned with citizen issues and instead are more focused on their own partisan politics.