Arizona Librarians Warn That Libraries Would Be Hit Hard by Proposed Legislation

Categories: I'm Only a Bill
library-books-top.jpg
By Arnoldius via Wikimedia Commons


Members of the state library association, county governments, and library districts around the state are warning about proposed legislation they say could gut library funding statewide.

House Bill 2379, proposed by Republican Representative Justin Olson, would put a cap on the taxing capabilities of "special districts" around the state, which includes county library districts.

Whereas counties have property-tax levy limits, the special districts don't have similar caps, under state law. HB 2379 would make the special districts follow the same guidelines.

Although Governor Jan Brewer vetoed similar legislation in 2011, this version just passed the House Ways and Means Committee last week.

Olson explained that under the current laws, a county could circumvent the cap on property tax increases if a special district purposely levies more than needed, then shifts the money to a county's general fund.

Under the new standard, library districts would raise their levy limit 2 percent annually, plus new construction.

"This is a very small issue for taxpayers, yet a critical one to the already beleaguered Library Districts," according to an argument from the Arizona Library Association. "All Library Districts are cutting their budgets, laying off and eliminating staff, reducing hours and access to resources, along with all other state and local governments."

In Pima County, one official says this would have a "devastating impact" on the library system.

"HB 2379 would impact our ability to provide library services at the worst possible time," county administrator C.H. Huckelberry wrote in a memo to the county board of supervisors. "In essence, the County would be forced to reduce our library operating budget by approximately $5.4 million for next fiscal year if this legislation is approved."

Library managers in Pima County gave estimates of where that $5.4 million would come from: The loss of 46 full-time employees, plus a reduction in programs, new books, and hours of operation.

In that House committee meeting last week, Pima County lobbyist Michael Racy said this legislation would "essentially eliminate the opening of any new libraries" (two of which are currently in the works in Pima County, by the way).

Olson disagreed, saying library districts can still propose bonds to pay for the new libraries, but Racy countered that they couldn't raise enough to staff the library and would end up "cannibaliz[ing]" the other libraries in the district.

A member of the Maricopa County Library District suggested staff and program cuts here would be similar to those projected in Pima County.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.




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24 comments
Lisa Kaiser
Lisa Kaiser

An educated electorate is essential for a functioning democracy. This is why the GOP opposes education, libraries and the constitutional right to vote.

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

No wonder Arizona is in the toilet regarding education and reading. Shit like this.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

Again, for those of you who value libraries, but won't take the time to actually read this article, there is no talk of cutting library funding.

They're simply putting a cap on how much the libraries can choose to increase your taxes so local governments can't use them as a revenue source for non-library expenditures (since, as we all know, actual spending by libraries is not increasing, since utilization is trending way down).



Kirk Dooley
Kirk Dooley

Of course. They want everybody to be stupid, so they can vote a straight Republican ticket. ;)

Cris Cross
Cris Cross

Fucking republicans. All they want is to collect all the money for them selves. Thats why they want to cut so much spending. Cuz it takes money out of they're pockets. They already took it from the school system. What a bunch of fucktards.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

Library utilization is way down.  Despite that, this bill would still allow funding to grow, simply not without bounds.


I like libraries and appreciate the value of an informed electorate, but libraries are last century's means of keeping the public informed.


don62156
don62156

Of course they're cutting library funds. It's purely self-interest. If people were actually able to access books and learn something that's not just parroted talking points, then the GOP would be in big trouble.

Happy Funball
Happy Funball

Here in #outerDumbfuckistan the ALEC whores in the AZLEG are doing their best to bring back the Dark Ages. A literate populace might ask questions and the minions of the #FreeMarketJesus won't stand for that

Dave Smith
Dave Smith

can they even read in Arizona???

Robin Scott Andress
Robin Scott Andress

Not like our legislators read. They have FOX News to tell them what to think.

Jukes
Jukes

It's not bad enough that 46 states spend more educating their children than Arizona does.  Now were going to ruin the libraries, too?  Soon there will be few left to complain when our doctors kill us all because they can't find staff who know the alphabet well enough to keep our charts straight. 

robert_graham
robert_graham

I don't mind paying taxes to keep our libraries open.

exboyracer
exboyracer

It is Arizona -- the only book they need in the library is the bible.

murdertron90001
murdertron90001

Books open minds. That's why they're the conservative's enemy - can't really be an open-minded right-winger these days.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

Next they'll be cutting funding for public hitching posts and then where will we tie our horses?

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

They're not taking away any funding from the libraries.

It's only the religious-right portion of the GOP that opposes education.


Why do so many of the most ignorant posts seem to come via Facebook?


Can you explain why the Constitutional right to vote may not be impeded by any sort of requirement for showing that you are legally entitled to vote, but the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms requires that you answer a page full of questions, show your Driver License, and undergo a background check?


valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@MaskedMagician1967  

Shit like people who can't read and understand a newspaper article?  Yes, that's a serious problem.  No library funding will be cut.


valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

They're not taking any money away from the libraries, genius.  

Typical liberal voter doesn't read the article but knows that the Republicans must be doing something evil.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@don62156  

Speaking of reading ... Nobody is talking about cutting any funds.


NWEng
NWEng

@valleynative Don't laugh, my local Circle K has a hitching post, and it gets used.

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