Thanks to intense negative publicity and a flood of calls and emails from our members around the state, Rep. John Kavanagh’s attempt to sneak a $900,000 giveaway to GEO Group into the state budget was defeated last night.
In today’s Arizona Republic, Kavanagh was named one of this year’s “Budget Losers,” generating our favorite screen-shot of the day:
Staff for both Senator Shooter (Chair of Appropriations) and Senate President Andy Biggs stated that they were counting the number of calls and emails, and that the majority were against the money for GEO.
But Kavanagh said publicly that he was considering putting the money back in when the budget came back to the House.
Our members kept up the pressure with another round of calls to House Speaker Andy Tobin. Rep. Tobin responded to one email by saying that Kavanagh had “agreed to drop this expenditure to help balance the budget and hold firm on Ed[ucation] spending.”
The issue generated quite a buzz over the past week, resulting in extensive media coverage, most of which did not depict the GEO Group funding in a very positive light. It also sparked an outcry from Democrats in the legislature, with Minority Leader Chad Campbell saying that the appropriation had “the appearance of a bribe” and calling for an investigation.