The state's 2012 budget goes into effect today, July 1, and there are a lot of ways it could affect life in Southern Arizona.
State legislators had to decide what to cut to balance the budget, and people here who depend on state funding say those cuts will be noticeable.
Listen to the full half-hour show on what's changing in the state budget, and why, plus what that means in Southern Arizona:
STATE DECISIONS State Senators Frank Antenori and Al Melvin represent Tucson-area districts. They said the cuts could have been worse if the Legislature hadn't made tough decisions this year. They also said there are limited funding sources for those cuts, so they had no choice to spare some programs at others' expense. On top of that, they said, not many people understand the economics of the state budget and want solutions that will only end up raising taxes in years to come. The two also explained funding cuts and budget decisions in each of the following areas of the budget:
EDUCATION Budgets for the three state universities will be cut by about 20 percent for the next year. That's led to larger class sizes and new types of instruction in some University of Arizona classes.
Old Main at the University of Arizona
Wanda Howell, a nutrition professor and chair of the Faculty Senate, said some of the changes have worked well for faculty. But, just like any other budget, she says there's a limit to how many more cuts the university can sustain.
Fourth grade teacher Sandy Schiffman said she's spending more money in her classroom at Keeling Elementary School because the school district has less money.
Keeling Elementary School
Schiffman said some of the cuts mean students will get an education in the basic courses, but extras, such as computer teachers and time for art, physical education and music classes will be cut.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT Cities and counties throughout the state said they were hit hard when the legislature took road funding to pay for other state departments. City Councilman Steve Kozachik and Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson said their constituents pay state taxes, so the money should come back to be used where local governments need it most. Without state road funding, more and more potholes will go unfilled, they said.
Potholes mark a Tucson street.
They also said the cuts are affecting parks and other departments. Some legislative decisions mean the local governments will spend money on services they didn't previously pay for.
Old Pima County Courthouse
HEALTH CARE While some of the specifics of state cuts to Arizona's Medicaid program are still in the works, the loss of $50 million in tobacco taxes hurts local clinics, said Dr. James Dumbauld, the medical director at St. Elizabeth of Hungary clinic.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a local health care clinic
More decisions await, as the governor weighs how to make $500 million in cuts to the state health care budget.