House Passes State Budget
Late last night, the House of Representatives passed a state budget that leaves gaping holes for kids and families. The approved fiscal plan has no new funding for child care vouchers and does nothing to prevent child abuse and neglect. It also fails to sufficiently fund CPS staff and services so the new agency will continue to struggle to protect children and find them safe and permanent homes.
Although six Republican legislators publicly opposed the Senate budget because it lacked funding for child care assistance and CPS, five of them voted for the final package with only minor changes. Republican Ethan Orr from Tucson and all Democratic Representatives voted NO on the budget. The state fiscal plan goes back to the Senate on Monday for them to consider the changes made in the House.
Special thanks to Representative Kate Brophy McGee and Debbie McCune Davis who both serve on the CPS Legislative Oversight Committee and Governor Brewer’s CPS work group. Both of these representatives have been outstanding champions for children, focusing on the real life needs for funding for CPS and child care with the media and their colleagues. Representative Kate Brophy McGee negotiated support for a special budget amendment adopted by Republicans and Democrats in the House recognizing that the budget is not yet complete for child safety. The amendment states the intent of the legislature to reexamine the budget for the new Child Safety and Family Services agency and “provide resources to meet its needs” after the Governor’s work group develops its recommendations. Although there is no clear time line or plan for this, CAA is hearing that the legislature may take up this issue later this session or that Governor Brewer may call a special session in May or June.
After all of the political outrage and pronouncements since November about the 6,500 uninvestigated CPS cases, our lawmakers have endorsed a budget that does NOTHING to prevent child abuse and neglect. If this is the final budget, it repeats the same mistakes that created the current child safety crisis: it sets the new agency up for failure and it ignores many children who need help.