Friday, January 8, 2016

Do Republicans Hate Children?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2016 at 1:30 PM

This post is an homage to the famous line from Will Rogers, who died 80 years ago: "All I know is what I read in the papers." And it tips its hat to Dolores Huerta's statement, "Republicans hate Latinos." Actually, Huerta didn't assert that Republicans hate Latinos; she commented that based on the actions of Republicans in power, it sure looks like they do. I would never assert that Republicans hate children. They're not monsters. But sometimes the actions of elected Republican officials make you wonder.

Here's what I read in the papers.

In Friday's Star: "Push to reduce number of uninsured kids in Arizona set." According to the article,
Arizona’s rate of uninsured children is 10 percent, the third highest rate in the country—only Texas and Alaska are worse, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families. The national rate of uninsured children is 6 percent.
The reason our uninsured rate is so high is, the legislature decided in 2009 that we couldn't afford to keep children healthy.
[I]n a series of budget-cutting decisions, the Arizona Legislature decided to end coverage for KidsCare parents in 2009 and the following year froze enrollment in KidsCare. By July 2011, the KidsCare waiting list had grown to more than 100,000 children.

A temporary KidsCare program, KidsCare II, was created in 2013, but expired when most provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act took effect at the end of January 2014. Enrollment in KidsCare remained frozen and is expected to dwindle to zero.
Will Arizona restore the kids' insurance it wiped away? The article says a bill is being drafted, but that's a far cry from the bill passing through the legislature and making it to Governor Ducey's desk. A statement from Ducey leads me to believe it ain't gonna happen. Ducey say he's OK with the idea of giving children health coverage—"receptive" is the term his spokesman used, a word which implies he isn't eager to do it, but he's willing to listen to people talk about it—but only if it's "fiscally responsible"—which means in Ducey-speak, it can't cost any money.
“The governor is receptive to ideas to improve coverage so long as the options are fiscally responsible and provide reliability and certainty in health-care matters,” [spokesman Daniel] Ruiz said.
We can't let money for children's health interfere with tax cuts for Ducey's rich friends, now can we? It may be open to debate whether or not Republicans hate children, but there's no question, they love them some rich donors.

Also in Friday's Star: "Including teachers in reform efforts is key to retention, expert says." The article is about a meeting of 500 educators, business leaders and community members in Tucson Thursday where teacher shortages and teacher retention were discussed. Lots of factors lead teachers to leave the profession, but with Arizona's teacher salaries being so much lower than other areas, it's especially hard to keep them here.

A look at median annual teacher pay in Tucson and metropolitan areas like Phoenix, Colorado Springs, Austin, Albuquerque, Denver, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, El Paso, San Antonio, Portland and San Diego found Tucson educators at the bottom, even with cost of living factored in.

“How do we keep our teachers in Tucson and Arizona when they’re better off in every single metropolitan area that we compared to on the map?” asked University of Arizona research economist Jennifer Pullen. “Their wages buy them more locally priced goods and services in every single area we explored on the map when compared to Tucson and Phoenix.”
Bringing our teacher salaries up to a level similar to other areas takes lots more money than we currently spend and more than will be generated by the Prop. 123 funding being pushed by Ducey and others—which, it can't be said too often, is about 70 percent of what the courts say the state already owes the school, it's not new money.

But it looks like many Republicans aren't ready to spend any serious money from the budget to increase spending. Remember those tax cuts for Ducey's rich friends?

In Wednesday's Star: "Arizona lawmakers spar over education funding plan." The Senate President, Republican Andy Biggs, doesn't think there's any connection between school funding and student achievement, so why increase funding? Here's a statement he made, which, I have to admit, makes no sense to me.
“When your mantra is repeatedly ‘Not enough money,’ that money solves all problems, then you get kind of wrapped around the axle.”
There may be a straw man somewhere who has said "Money solves all problems," but I've never heard a human being make that statement. And as for getting "kind of wrapped around the axle,” maybe it's my lack of knowledge of car mechanics which makes the statement incomprehensible to me, but, huh?

Gov. Ducey, unlike Biggs, is willing to admit that money does matter, which is why he's in danger of doing himself injury by patting himself on the back so often over Prop. 123 — which, it can't be said too often, doesn't even cover the money the courts say the state owes our schools. As the article mentions, Ducey has called Prop. 123 a "first step." So what's the second step? He's not saying.
In pushing Proposition 123, Gov. Doug Ducey has called it a “first step” in education funding. But Ducey, who attended Wednesday’s event, was unwilling to make a specific commitment to add additional dollars this coming budget year, even with the surplus.
Is all this evidence that Republicans hate children? Maybe so, maybe no. Is it evidence that they hate, or don't give a damn about, other people's children? That appears to be a distinct possibility.

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