By signing SB 1070 into law, Governor Jan Brewer has put the jobs of our members in Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert and Pima County at risk. For the employees represented by SEIU Arizona, this bill could not have come at a worse time.
Public service employees in counties and cities across Arizona are facing pay and benefit cuts, furloughs and layoffs as our employers struggle to balance budgets that have been wrecked by the recession.
SEIU Arizona chapter leaders have been working long and hard with management to find ways to help balance municipal and county budgets without losing jobs. We believe that preserving jobs - even with difficult temporary sacrifices - is better than losing them.
In our toughest budget year yet, SEIU Arizona members are fighting hard and making progress: Holding down health care cost increases in Pima County. Working to restore 30 to 50 jobs in Tempe. Supporting cost-saving, revenue-generating options in all chapters. But budgets for next year in Gilbert and Tempe await the will of the voters this May on questions about local sales tax increases. And Chandler and Pima members will likely see health care costs increase next year.
So we are on rocky ground any way we look at it. And we will be for some time after the 2010-11 budgets are approved.
Now throw this into the mix: Police and Sheriff Department employees across Arizona will be required to enforce costly new provisions of SB 1070. So city and county public safety budgets will have to accommodate these new requirements--while their total budgets are being reduced. It's a classic case of an "unfunded mandate," at a time when funds have dried up.
SB 1070 puts public service jobs at risk
Arizona's economic health will be better able to withstand boom and bust cycles when it becomes less dependent on sales tax revenues. Until that day comes, however, sales taxes will continue to be a crucial part of our economy. Whatever our opinions on the immigration issue may be, the national and international condemnation of SB 1070 has already led to lost convention and tourism revenues that will further harm our state's efforts to put this recession behind us.
Overburdened police departments, swamped justice systems, an unfunded re-deployment of resources at the expense of the residents of cities and counties who will continue to pay for services that fewer public service employees struggle to deliver ... These are reasons enough for SEIU Arizona to be against SB 1070.
Immigration reform is a complicated issue. It's also a federal issue. The state "solution" signed by our Governor just creates more problems for SEIU members and our local communities.
Losing valuable public service jobs in Arizona to pay for immigration "enforcement" may be an unintended consequence of this bad public policy, but it will be a consequence nonetheless.