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Grijalva: Az should accept stimulus funds

Citizen Staff Writer



Arizona’s $4.2 billion share of the federal stimulus package should be accepted by state officials, Rep. Raúl Grijalva said Friday.

To reject all or some of the funding will cost more jobs and retain all of the drastic cuts in education and health care programs already enacted at the state house, Grijalva said.

“We cannot allow this to become a political-ideological issue,” Grijalva, D-Arizona, said.

Funding for infrastructure projects like maintaining roadways and bridges appears on the way to acceptance by the Arizona Department of Transportation, he said.

But beliefs by some Republican conservatives that stimulus money will come with federal strings attached that will prove costly later when funding expires are short-sighted, given the magnitude of the nation’s economic crisis, Grijalva said. “This recovery money is not the savior. It is the underpinnings to keep the house from falling on us,” Grijalva said.

Republican Gov. Jan Brewer has said she will consult with legislative Republicans on how to use – or whether to accept – the stimulus money.

Grijalva focused on the impact of state legislative budget cuts on education and health programs for children, noting that a bulk of the budget cuts approved to trim a projected $1.6 billion state deficit disproportionately hit K-12 school and health care programs for the young.

Arizona ranks fourth lowest nationally for children with no health care, and will descend to the bottom of the country in student-teacher ratios with the cuts approved by the Legislature, he said.

The state is to receive about $803 million in budget stabilization funds, intended to partly offset the cuts made to education and health care programs, Grijalva said.

“I don’t think the intent of Congress was for it to be discretionary,” Grijalva said.

Programs in rural areas will also suffer disproportionately with the legislative budget cuts, he said.

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