Daily Archives: May 1, 2018

VP Mike Pence in Phoenix today on GOP Tax Scam Tour

A”whiter shade of pale” Mike Pence is in Phoenix today for the GOP tax scam tour. Vice President Mike Pence visits Phoenix today on tax policy tour:

Pence will arrive shortly before noon Tuesday before meeting with Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Arizona Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs and local business people are expected at the “Tax Cuts to Put America First” gathering at a Tempe hotel.

Maybe an enterprising reporter will ask Pence about Senator Marco Rubio’s view of the GOP tax scam. The Economist reports, Marco Rubio offers his Trump-crazed party a glint of hope (snippet):

“There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers,” he says. “In fact they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”

Arguing that the tax bill’s corporate tax rate cuts aren’t benefiting the average worker is exactly the opposite of what VP Pence will say today about the GOP’s only major legislative “accomplishment.”

For once, “Little Marco,” as Pence’s boss denigrates him, is right. The New York Times reported this week, Investment Boom From Trump’s Tax Cut Has Yet to Appear:

Republicans sold the 2017 tax law as “rocket fuel” for American investment and growth, saying that corporations — flush with cash from lower tax rates — would channel money back into the economy by building factories and offices and investing in equipment, which would help companies grow and provide winnings for workers.

Economists say that may happen as companies readjust their spending plans over the coming months to take advantage of the new law, and they note that it is too early to tell how much the tax law will spread into the broader economy.

But, so far, hard evidence of such an acceleration has yet to appear in economic data, which show more of a steady investment roll than a rapid escalation. And while there are pockets of the economy where investment is picking up — among large tech companies and in shale oil business, for example — corporate spending on buying back stock is increasing at a far faster clip, prompting a debate about whether the law is returning money to the overall economy or just rewarding a small segment of investors.

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Differing Plans for Different Philosophies to Solve the Education Funding Crisis in Arizona

Teachers are on Day Four of their walkout

Teachers are on Day Four of their walkout

As the educator walkout continues this week, there are currently five published plans that have been offered to solve the funding crisis our education community faces in this state. Each plan has positive features to one or more groups. All of them have drawbacks to one or more groups. Hopefully, mature public servants on both sides will get together and try to fashion a plan based on aspects of part or all of these proposals that will enable the children and educators to return to school.

Plan One: Invest in Education Act Ballot Initiative

What is the scope of the plan? To place an initiative on the November ballot to raise the state income tax on high earners to raise monies to fully fund schools. People earning from $250,000 to $499,000 would pay an additional 3.46 % in state taxes or $17,265.40 maximum. People earning $500,000 or higher would pay an additional 4.46 percent or $22,300 minimum.

What is the name of the person/groups that support this plan? Superintendent Candidates Kathy Hoffman and David Schapira, Gubernatorial Candidate David Garcia, Arizona Center for Economic Progress.

What is the financial method utilized to solve the education funding crisis in Arizona? Increasing the state income tax for high earners.

What is at least one positive aspect to this plan? It is a steady and consistent revenue stream that would not be susceptible to an economic downtown like a sales tax.

What is at least one negative aspect to this plan? As designed, it only raises close to $700,000,000 of the $1,000,000,000 needed to fully fund schools. Also, as columnist Laurie Roberts points out, it does not ask any of the other income groups to contribute. This initiative puts the added burden solely on high-income earners. This could potentially galvanize the corporate right and create a highly charged partisan fight, waking up the conservative base just as the Blue Wave hits in the November elections.

Plan Two: Governor Ducey’s Plan

What is the scope of the plan? To give teachers a 20 percent raise in stages by 2020.

What is the name of the person/groups that support this plan? Governor Ducey and his allies in the legislature.

What is the financial method utilized to solve the education funding crisis in Arizona? Revenues based on economic performance and possible reallocation from other sensitive budget areas for the needy. This may also include the shifting of property taxes to local communities where they are forced to pay more.

What is at least one positive aspect to this plan?  Most of the teachers would get a raise.

What is at least one negative aspect to this plan? First, it does not fully fund education or even the teacher raises. How are the teacher raises determined in the local districts?  Where are the raises for support staff?  Where are the monies for capital improvements and investments? They are not there.

Second, the funding apparatus, even in its revised form is both unclear and unstable. Updated proposals relayed that the Governor would divert funds from other areas of need like prescription drugs to fund the raises, which would be pitting one group of needy recipients against another. Furthermore, the Governor’s proposals depend on a consistently strong state economy. There are no provisions, other than raiding other budget areas, like prescription drugs, if there is a downturn.

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Gov. Ducey’s budget fails to deliver, screws over Tucson and TUSD

Rebuffing the RedforEd protests by educators picketing the state Capitol, Republican lawmakers took the first steps Monday to providing a 9 percent raise this coming year for teachers. Arizona lawmakers take steps for 20 percent teacher pay hike, but not necessarily for all:

The final version of the budget deal negotiated between GOP leaders and Gov. Doug Ducey – no educators or even the minority Democrats in the legislature – puts $273 million into the $10.4 billion spending plan for the coming year specifically for teacher pay hikes.

But unlike Ducey’s original proposal, each school district would get its share in bulk dollars. That leaves it up to board members to decide how to divvy it up.

The Arizona Republic adds:

The additional money for districts would be based on a statewide teacher salary average of $49,000, Stefan Shepherd of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee told House Democrats Monday. Twenty percent of that figure is $9,800.

Districts will get a bundle of money based on that $9,800 figure multiplied by the number of teachers they reported having, Shepherd said.

But, Shepherd said that means districts with higher-than-average teacher salaries would not receive enough money to give all their teachers 20 percent raises.

Conversely, districts with lower-than-average salaries would receive more than enough to give teachers 20 percent raises.

And nothing in the budget bill would require the additional funds be spent on teacher salaries, Shepherd told lawmakers.

“There’s no language that says you have to give X percent pay raise,” Shepherd said.

In touting his plan on KFYI-AM last week, Ducey said, “Make no mistake. When we pass this plan, every teacher in the state will have a 20 percent pay raise by 2020.” (Yeah, he lied).

Last week Ducey said his offer meets the key demand of the educator groups whose members voted last week to walk out beginning Thursday. “So they know it’s been delivered on,” he claimed. No, it decidedly has not. Ducey’s budget “only partially meets one of the five stated demands made by protesters.” Facts still trump GOPropaganda..

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If it sounds too good to be true…

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

Okay, so maybe Governor Ducey and the Legislature really are trying to solve the problem. You know, the one they, and those before them, created by pushing tax cuts, corporate welfare, and school privatization. But, it is REALLY hard to have the faith, when they throw out words like “advance-appropriated.” As in, “we can’t give you all 20 percent right now teachers, so we are going to advance-appropriate it in the next two budgets.”

I googled “advance-appropriate” and got nothing on the first page of search results. On the second page, there was a report from the New America Foundation titled, “Advance Appropriations: A Needless and Confusing Education Budget Technique.”

The New America Foundation appears to be fairly non-partisan with a vision that includes, “Equitable, accessible high-quality education and training over a lifetime”, “A society that promotes economic opportunity for all”, and “Equal representation in politics and participation in accountable governance.” Its Board of Directors includes New York Times Op-Ed Columnist David Brooks, ASU President Michael Crow, and many others from business, higher-education, and journalism.

Their report on advance appropriations referenced above, discusses the practice of this funding mechanism in Congress, and calls such a, “rarely understood budgeting approach that shifts funding into the fiscal year following the year covered by the appropriations process.” Continue reading