Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Doug Ducey and Andy Biggs: "Don't Tell Me What I Don't Want to Hear."

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 4:00 PM

  • Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I'm sensing a pattern here.

Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs sponsored legislation to audit the Department of Child Safety, to the tune of $250,000. Must have been pretty important if a fiscal conservative wanted to spend a quarter million dollars to figure out how to fix the agency. Well, the results of the study are in, and the conclusion is, the agency needs more money to function properly. Biggs is appalled. That's not what he wanted to hear.
"They didn't really get at any of the stuff that I thought was important," Biggs said. "I could've gone out and asked all those local stakeholders what do you think, and they all would've told me we need to spend more money. And that's basically what Chapin Hall [Center for Children at the University of Chicago] put together."
Biggs wants the agency to cut back on the number of people it serves, not spend more money to increase services like the study recommends.

Governor Doug Ducey wants to build more private prisons. The recent riot at the privately run Kingman prison isn't deterring him, nor are Department of Corrections studies that say private prisons cost more than state-run prisons. Admittedly, those cost effectiveness studies are a few years old. Back in 2012, Republicans said the Department of Corrections should stop conducting the studies because weren't comprehensive enough. If the studies considered all the data, Republican private prison advocates said, they would show the private prisons cost less.

So is Ducey planning to conduct a new, better study that will factor in all the costs? Nah. I guess it's too risky. A new study might come to conclusions Ducey doesn't want to hear.

Off the top of my head, I can think of two other recent instances where Republicans decided to ignore things they didn't want to hear.

Remember when then-Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal spent $110,000 on a study that was supposed to prove TUSD's Mexican American Studies program violated the law that was designed to kill the program? The report concluded that MAS was a good program that didn't break any laws, even ones designed specifically to put it out of compliance. Huppenthal's reaction? "I don't want to hear it." He condemned, then ignored the study he commissioned.

And what about the judge's order that the legislature add $317 million to the state's education funding to comply with the 2001 ballot measure that specified how much the state needs to spend on our schools? And that's just for one year. Over the next five years, the total would be more like $2.9 billion. The Republicans who control the legislature don't want to hear it. When asked for a response, they fold their arms, pouting child style, and say, "The courts aren't the boss of me."

I remember a saying I used to hear years ago. "My mind is made up, don't confuse me with facts." Seems appropriate right about now.

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