A group of public employee unions, teacher associations, and community organizations has proposed up to $1.9 billion of bonds to resolve Arizona’s looming $3.3 billion budget deficit.
The Arizona Budget Coalition last week unveiled the bond proposals as part of a menu of options that it wants considered during budget debates in the Legislature.
The proposals include up to $500 million of bonds secured by lottery revenue, $900 million of debt supported by $90 million of the state’s $120 million annual portion of the tobacco settlement, and $500 million of lease-revenue bonds supported through lease purchase agreements for state capital facilities such as the prison system.
Dana Naimark, executive director of the coalition and president of the Arizona Children’s Action Alliance, said at a capitol news conference last week that the House Appropriations Committee’s proposed budget cuts would hurt education and services to vulnerable citizens.
“Despite the deficit, despite the economy, we don’t have to destroy education, health care, and social services,” she said.
The coalition’s options total an additional $6.8 billion of annual revenue, including $2.7 billion in tax hikes and $4.1 billion from non-tax sources.