Tag Archives: Spending

MARICOPA SPECIAL HEALTHCARE DISTRICT TO VOTE ON $95M NO-BID CONTRACT TONIGHT!

YET WE’RE NOT SURE THEY READ THE CONTRACT!

 

Friends,    

We at Arizonans In Action have just learned that the Maricopa Special Healthcare District has called a special meeting, open to the public, to approve a $95 million NO-BID contract with Medical Professionals of Arizona this evening at 5pm at the Maricopa Medical Center in Auditorium 4.

  

We touched on this issue last week in our blog post on the Maricopa County Special Healthcare District.  If you missed it, <!– –>please take a look

  

While the fact that this HUGE contract for county services is a NO-BID contract is of great concern, we are hearing word that the MIHS Board of Directors has not even read the 300 page contract!!!  According to multiple sources, it was not even received until Thursday.  In this time of economic turmoil where taxpayers and Maricopa County are struggling to make obligations, we want to know how elected officials can proceed with the approval of a contract that they haven’t read?

 

 

 

ACTION ITEMS

 

1.  Please contact immediately the MIHS Board of Directors and tell them you want them to read the contract before any decisions are made let alone those with such a HUGE price tag.

 

2.  Tell them, that as elected officials, they have an obligation to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars and should reject NO-BID contracts.  Any services that the government needs should be sent out for bid to provide opportunity for companies to put forth their best prices for the best quality of services.  Competition breeds efficiency!

 

3.  Please forward this post to your friends and family.  Encourage them to contact the Board of Directors as well.  Lastly, also encourage them to visit the Arizonans In Action website where they can sign up to stay informed on our efforts and breaking issues. 

 

 

Thank you for your help.  If you receive any response, please let us know!

 

Now, let’s make our voices heard that we demand accountability and efficiency in every corner of government.

***UPDATE***

We have received responses from two of the MIHS Board of Directors over the past couple of days and we wanted to share those responses with all of you.

District One Bil Bruno[excerpted from email response] “We’ve spent several hours last week and today in board meetings discussing its terms and I read and highlighted the contract over the weekend. Today after the meeting I met with a VP to question 23 different sections of it.” 

District Two Greg Patterson[excerpted from email response]  “Yes, we’ve read the contract—more importantly, the management team and the lawyers have spend thousands of hours—and several hundred thousand dollars—negotiating it.”

We are glad that these gentlemen have carefully read this contract considering its GIANT price tag and we appreciate their response to their constituents.  Yet, we do wonder whether the other members of the Board have also read it.

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MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERVISORS ARE MAGICIANS

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Millions of Wasted Dollars Hidden by Supervisors’ Creation of Special Taxing Districts

Part 1 of a 3-Part Series

 

One of the biggest secrets the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors do not want you to know is how they farm off parts of county government that chronically lose money into separate “special taxing districts” where financial losses are all but hidden from the public.

Instead of making these sinkhole areas of county government financially responsible, the Supervisors hide them where taxpayers don’t hear about their losses, allowing them to freely continue their irresponsible spending unaccountable to anyone.

Sure, the County Supervisors brag that they never directly raise your property taxes because they shift responsibility to the special districts to raise your property taxes. 

Take for example this little nugget that did not get much attention.  Recently, the Special Healthcare District in June voted to raise your property taxes.  Did you hear about it?  Did you know about it?  No because the county’s special taxing districts fly under the radar of the taxpayers and largely aren’t covered by the media.

Over the next three installments, we will examine some of these districts and the millions of taxpayer dollars that are going down the drain.

 

Maricopa County Special Healthcare District

The Maricopa County Special Healthcare District (MIHS) was created a few years ago by a ballot proposition and consists of a healthcare insurance plan and a couple of hospitals.  However, MIHS was largely created because it continues to lose huge amounts of money.  The debt was siphoned off into a different district where its losses would go undetected and would not count against the county budget.  Once separated, it could have its own property tax separate from the general county budget.  This property tax could increase as much as its board deemed necessary because it was no longer accountable to the county.

Let’s take a closer look at the continual losses that MIHS posts, particularly the specialty clinics:

Simply eliminating dental, oncology, urgent care, the FHCs and Complete Care Comfort would have saved the district $8.3 million in 2008.

MCMCWe also looked at the county medical center and how it handles itself.  An overview shows us that the Maricopa County Medical Center accepts any patients for treatment, even if they refuse to pay.  An easy cost-cutting measure could be implemented if the district made a decision to turn away patients that refused to pay – which accounts for about 26% of its patients – and send them to other area hospitals that are better able to accommodate for their needs.  Yet, the MIHS Directors haven’t made that decision, so Maricopa County taxpayers are stuck paying for their care.

Now, let’s take a look at the MIHS District’s budget for the current year.  This year the district’s budget is $27.8 million.  However, there is a large problem going unnoticed.  You see there is this thing called a balance sheet where income and expenses are measured.  On one side, the expense side, we know the number is $27.8 million but on the income side, it is only projected to be $20.8 million with no hope of making it up by the end of the year.  Just to hammer home the point, that is showing that the MIHS District will be spending $7 million more than they have.

Does it get any better?  No.  The 2009-2010 budget is estimated to have an overall $44 million operating loss.  The Maricopa County Medical Center is facing decreasing operating revenues and the amount of debt is expected to increase.  Despite the fact that the Maricopa County Health Plan is seeing increasing revenues, its expenses are increasing as fast as revenues.  I think we can safely predict what the result will be – expenses surpassing revenues and creating more debt.  As it stands, the district owes $17 million to the county in debt service reimbursements for loans the county made to the district previously.

The hope that the debt will be cured by federal money is also not a possibility.  The district currently receives federal Section 1011 money for treating illegal immigrants, but that is being cut in half, from $5.4 million this year down to 2.7 million next year so either number of those treated needs to decrease or once again expenses will exceed revenues.

 

In Their Own Words

We tracked down what some have said about the MIHS District and its financial standings but it has left us scratching our heads.  See for yourself…

 

  • The board voted in favor of a tax levy for itself last year.  One of the directors, Gail Hendrix, objected to tax levy on the basis that it was a double tax.  Gail noted that since people are already taxed by the federal government to provide free healthcare to those who do not pay, why should people be taxed again at the local level?  Unfortunately, the CEO of the district and a trustee for the Don Stapley defense fund, Betsey Bayless, convinced the other board members to outvote Hendrix and approve the highest amount possible for the tax levy, 7.8%.  By the way, it is important to note here Betsey Bayless is making $350,000 per year and has no medical or healthcare education at all as far as we know.

We are only scratching the surface here but considering how expensive it is running the MIHS district and that costs and taxes continue to increase, does it really make sense for the Maricopa County government to run a healthcare district?  Especially since The County Supervisors have made it clear they are not going to provide any oversight, the MIHS District will not provide oversight, and the fact that taxpayers already pay federal taxes to provide for federally mandated healthcare services to indigents.  Seems to us that it just doesn’t make fiscal sense to tax property owners again to duplicate what could be done more efficiently in the private sector.

We Told You So, Now Let’s Tell Them!

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News broke earlier today that Arizona Legislature leadership and the Governor had reached a deal on the budget.  Of course, knowing that the taxpayers do not want a tax increase, the Governor must have backed down, right?!  WRONG!!!

Instead legislative leaders have agreed to ask the voters to decide whether they want a tax increase on sales tax.  Here is the reason that Senate President Bob Burns gave (from the Capitol Media Service article by Howie Fischer):

Burns acknowledged that he has, until now, been adamantly opposed to hiking taxes, even to the point of simply referring the question to voters. But he said there really is no choice, saying even that $600 million in cuts, even coupled with federal stimulus dollars and other accounting maneuvers, is insufficient to deal with an anticipated $3 billion deficit.

“So my belief now is that we need to put that out there for the voters,” he said.

“If they pass the tax increase, obviously we’ll have more revenues,” Burns continued. “If they don’t I think that sends a pretty strong message to the Legislature that we’re going to have to make significant reductions.”

If they don’t, it will send a pretty strong message to the Legislature?!  We seem to recall 10,000 plus taking time out of their schedule on April 15th to protest big government, big spending, high taxes, and lack of accountability.  Now that wasn’t a message?

You know, we always hear that Republicans are going to be strong leaders for small government, less taxes and spending, etc.  Now we are hearing that they want maintain the size, growth, and spending of the current government.  Have they forgotten what they promised?

We are ripped!  Yet, we can still do something about it.  Everyone of us needs to get on the phone to our state legislators and demand that this tax increase NOT be sent to the ballot.  We have already spoken.  Call them today and tell them NO!

Arizona State Senate
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890

Info Desk: 602.926.3559
Fax: 602.926.3429
Toll Free: 800.352.8404

Arizona House of Representatives
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890
Info Desk: 602.926.4221
Toll Free: 800.352.8404

If you are unsure who are legislators are, please visit here: http://www.azleg.gov/

Please contact your legislator today!

Look Out Taxpayers, They Are Going to Blow It

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We are not happy.  Nope, not one bit.  Zilch.  Zero. Nada.

We have all watched intently on the budget discussions over the past several months unfold in the legislature concerning the budget fix of 2009 and the budget for 2010.  Many of us have spoken with our legislators, attended Townhall forums, and listened to economists say that raising taxes (even temporary ones) during a recession is a very bad idea (and could be catastrophic).

In fact, we would even opine that the communication has never been better between our elected representatives and the voters in many regards.  Legislators have heard our voices loudly and clearly to NOT raise taxes.  Many of us expressed what a great opportunity we have to shrink the big government of the Napolitano administration.  Many legislators spent long hours figuring out ways to cover the huge gaps between income and expenses.  They even came up with a plan and a budget was sent to Governor Brewer for approval.

And then…

Early in the week, we heard that Governor Brewer is not happy with the budget proposal sent to her and will even shut down government if an agreement cannot be reached by July 1.  The latest word now is that Senate President Bob Burns said that there is a tentative agreement to ask lawmakers to refer a sales-tax to the ballot, though no specifics have been outlined or official announcements have been made.

Say what?!  We think we made it pretty clear at the TEA parties in Tucson and Phoenix and in our conversations with our legislators that we don’t want more taxes — even if they are temporary.

Let us point out a few points to the Governor and the legislature:

  • We don’t want more taxes.
  • We want small government.
  • We don’t want more taxes.
  • We don’t care if you shut down government.  We don’t want more taxes.
  • We don’t want more taxes.  We are taxed too much already.

Also, what is interesting to note is that the tentative agreement indicated that if the vote went to the ballot, the language would provide directives where the money, if approved, would be sent to specific accounts like education.  Here’s a problem… the vast majority of the spending for education is in administrative costs not in the classroom.  So, even if the vote passes, money still would not be going to the classroom.  Rather, it just would be eaten up by administrative costs.

If the legislature and the governor want to do right by the taxpayers and for Arizona, they need to remain focused on a very simple thought — Shrink Government.  Then, and maybe then, our mood will change to happy.

Robbing the Taxpayers — Or How We Can Save Money and Promote Liberty

azcapitolWhen Diane Sikokis’ does her job the taxpayers lose.  When Diane does her job well, the taxpayers lose doubly.  She serves as the Director of Government Relations for Maricopa County, making her the lead lobbyist for its policy issues.

Over the weekend, the Arizona Republic had a puff piece interview with Ms. Sikokis discussing how difficult it is for her to do her job in this present political and economic climate.  As if the interview were not disgusting enough because of its lack of substance, there was gross negligence for failing to ask reasonable questions like “Why does Maricopa County need a lobbyist?”.

There are two excerpts from the interview that I would like to draw your attention to.  The first question is a follow up to a discussion of Maricopa County not being able to cut any further because of mandates:

Q: Would Maricopa County consider legal action?

A: Yes. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that if the state approaches us in such a way . . . this board is no longer to be accountable and answerable to the taxpayers who elected them to do the jobs that they need to do because they’ve taken all of the revenue that we count on and depend on. Then yes, I think this board would look at all of their options.Sikokis

The second excerpt that I think is worth pointing out is:

Q: Who do you consider the county’s allies at the Capitol, and which relationships need some work?

A: Certainly the governor. Our board strongly considers both the Senate president and House speaker friends. We feel like we have an excellent relationship with all of the legislative leadership and certainly the members that comprise the Maricopa delegation. We really appreciate the out-of-county members as well. The problem seems to be those legislators who perhaps are not keeping an open mind on the governor’s five-point plan . . . the more conservative Republican legislators in both bodies.

[emphasis added]

In other words, Ms. Sikokis is not only openly admitting that the county is advocating for a tax increase during a recession, which in turn will trigger an economic depression, but is also blaming conservatives for being a roadblock to the tax increase flying through the Legislature.

As I mentioned above, there is one element that is not being discussed.  Why is it that we even need taxpayer-funded lobbyists?  Essentially, we are paying for employees of government to head to the legislature to lobby for more of our money.  That, my fellow patriots, is insane.

GI BuildingThe Goldwater Institute has a great report that they published in 2007 by Benjamin Barr.  I strongly urge you to visit their site and download a copy.

Here is the dirty little secret that Maricopa County is not telling you but the Goldwater Institute discovered.  Maricopa County, as of 2007 when this report was published, had 85 taxpayer-funded lobbyists.  Now, imagine the tax dollars that are allocated just to pay for salaries.

Thus, we are left with a natural conclusion.  Maricopa County can make more cuts — starting with reducing the number of lobbyists on staff — if they were interested in doing what is best for the taxpayers of Maricopa County.  Unfortunately, much like the empty rhetoric Ms. Sikokis in this train-wreck of an interview, Maricopa County is only interested in growing government on the backs of an already stressed economic base — us.

Thursday News Stories

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Here are the news stories that we are following today.  Please, if we have missed one, let us know!  Commentary will arrive later today.

Arizona Daily Star

§  County officials foresee tax increase

§  AZ sales tax collections declined again in March

§  Montana set to challenge gun control

§  Charter change would tie officials’ hands

§  Catalina Foothills crisis is rooted at Legislature

 

Arizona Daily Sun

§  City layoffs down to a dozen
In the end, it will be an even dozen. That’s how many Flagstaff city employees are likely to be laid off starting July 1, City Manager Kevin Burke said Wednesday.
 

§  FUSD readies budget override
Flagstaff Unified School District officials are taking the first steps toward putting a budget override on this fall’s ballot.

 

§  Maricopa Co. checking its take-home fleet
PHOENIX (AP) — In these tough economic times, Maricopa County is assessing the need for taking a county-owned car home.

 

Arizona Republic

§  State treasurer sheds light on Ariz.’s loans

Arizona’s first foray in borrowing in its modern history cost just over $38,500 in interest, state Treasurer Dean Martin reports. He warned that more borrowing is on the horizon as the state grapples with budget shortfalls.

§  Bennett unsold on Gov. Brewer’s tax plan

Secretary of State Ken Bennett, whom Brewer appointed to his current job, parted company with his patron on the tax-increase issue, saying he could not swallow a central piece of the governor’s plan to address a $3 billion budget shortfall for 2010.

§  One U.S. agency didn’t get memo about openness

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has ignored repeated requests from The Arizona Republic for information about sexual assaults. The BIA needs to release its investigative records and save time, taxpayer dollars and embarrassment.

§  Group challenges state to ‘expect more’

To combat the quite-real perception that too many Arizonans are indifferent to quality education, a business-education-philanthropic coalition has launched ”Expect More Arizona,” a campaign to entice the state’s students and parents to raise their performance expectations.

 

The Daily Courier

§  Cities worry about state plans for local impact fees 

§  State water agency faces 56-percent cut

 

East Valley Tribune

§  Ariz. Democrats assail Republicans over flu

House Democrats are trying to make political hay out of the swine flu outbreak, saying Republican budget cuts have left Arizonans more at risk.

 

Phoenix Business Journal

§  ADOT gets first stimulus money

The Arizona Department of Transportation is one of the first state agencies to start awarding contracts with stimulus money. The Phoenix Business Journal will have extended coverage of the stimulus efforts and the economy starting in this week’s edition.

 

Sierra Vista Herald

§  Fort gets more stimulus money

FORT HUACHUCA — More than $4.5 million of federal economic recovery funds have been approved for eight construction projects aimed at making the fort more energy efficient, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ office said Wednesday.

GPEC/Tempe – A Very Taxing Meeting

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Arizonans In Action Board Member Roy Miller penned this Letter to the Editor that appeared in the Arizona Republic on Wednesday, April 15, 2009.

Last Thursday (April 9th) I participated in a meeting entitled “Convening the Community,” sponsored by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC). It probably should have been called the “Jan Brewer Tax Increase Cheerleading Meeting.” Senate President Bob Burns and House Speaker Kirk Adams offered a more conservative approach but it seemed clear to me that the real purpose of the meeting was to help the undereducated attendees (like me) “understand” the need to raise taxes.

Raising taxes in a recession should be considered economic suicide but there were many financial statistics presented to lead one to believe that a tax increase is needed. However, one huge area for potential savings, transportation, was not discussed, even though transportation expenses constitute over a BILLION dollars for our state. Technically, transportation money does not come from the general fund but it seems to me that failing to consider this huge area of public expenditures is to fail to recognize a huge opportunity for savings through privatization efforts like toll roads.

The master of ceremonies for the event, Michael Bidwell told the audience that the overall discussion was “not about being conservative or liberal.” That is an amazing remark because the exact opposite is the truth. Whether we address our fiscal problem through tax increases or spending cuts is the very definition of what it means to be a liberal or a conservative.