Category Archives: Governor

AZ Court of Appeals upholds Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan

The Arizona Court of Appeals has affirmed the Maricopa County Superior Court decision upholding former governor Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan in 2013. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Arizona appeals court says Medicaid expansion law is constitutional:

The appellate court in its opinion (.pdf) said the law imposed an assessment that is exempt from the requirement that any act by lawmakers increasing state revenues, such a tax hike, must get a two-thirds vote in the Legislature [the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” amendment, Prop. 108 (1992)].

The health care law was approved by a simple majority.

At issue is the assessment on hospitals, which the state uses to draw down matching federal funds.

The law has allowed Arizona to expand eligibility to residents who earn between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

In 2015, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Douglas Gerlach also upheld the law, ruling that the hospital assessment that funds the program is not subject to Arizona Constitution’s supermajority provision.

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AZ Supreme Court unanimously upholds Prop. 206

The Arizona Supreme Court unanimously ruled against a challenge brought by our corporate overlords in the Chamber of Commerce organizations to the voter-approved Prop. 206, the minimum wage initiative, raising the state’s minimum wage and providing for paid time off regulations. The Arizona Capitol Times  (subscription required) reports, Supreme Court upholds minimum wage law:

The justices rejected arguments by a group of plaintiffs, led by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, that Proposition 206 led to an unconstitutional mandate for the government to spend money. Attorneys for the chamber argued that expenses caused by Prop. 206, which raised the minimum wage to $10 per hour on January 1, violated the Arizona Constitution’s revenue-source rule.

Adopted in 2004, the rule requires ballot initiatives to identify funding sources for any new government spending.

Chief Justice Scott Bales announced the ruling in a brief order released Tuesday afternoon. A lengthier written opinion will be released at a later date.

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(Update) AZ Supreme Court oral argument on Prop. 206, Minimum Wage Initiative

It looks as if our corporate overlords at the Chamber of Commerce organizations seeking to overturn the will of the voters on Prop. 206, the Minimum Wage Initiative — and by extension to eliminate your constitutional right to pass laws by citizen initiatives — had a bad day in court on Thursday.

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, AZ Supreme Court skeptical of minimum wage challenger arguments:

Arizona’s Supreme Court justices spent time March 9 imagining a world in which the state’s voters may never get to pass laws by the ballot again.

Justices repeatedly posed that scenario to Brett Johnson, an attorney representing the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other plaintiffs in their challenge to a higher minimum wage approved overwhelmingly by voters in November.

Johnson argued that parts of Proposition 206, including new mandates for benefits such as paid sick leave, are a direct mandate for the state to spend money, which violates the Arizona Constitution’s revenue source rule. That rule is a measure adopted in 2004 that requires ballot initiatives to identify funding sources for new government spending.

Chief Justice Scott Bales opened the hearing with a question that cut to the case’s potentially dramatic implications: If even indirect expenditures are sufficient to violate the revenue source rule, is there realistically any initiative that could be proposed that wouldn’t violate the Constitution?

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AZ Supreme Court to hear oral argument in Prop. 206 Minimum Wage initiative appeal

The case of Chamber of Commerce et al v. Hon. Daniel Kiley/State of Arizona et al., (Arizona Supreme Court No. CV-16-0314-SA) is set for oral argument today before the Arizona Supreme Court.

This is the case brought by our corporate overlords at the Chamber of Commerce organizations seeking to overturn the will of the voters of Arizona in voting for Prop. 206 last year, the Minimum Wage Initiative from Arizonans for Fair Wages and Healthy Families.

On February 14, 2017, the Arizona Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction of the Petition for Special Action and asked the parties to address a single issue: Whether Proposition 206 violates the Revenue Source Rule, and, if so, what relief would be appropriate? This is the only issue before the court today.

Howard Fischer reports, Business relief from Arizona minimum-wage hike looking more remote:

The state’s business community brings its last-ditch effort to kill a voter-approved minimum wage hike to the Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday.

But it remains to be seen whether the business groups led by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry can get the relief from having to pay their workers more — even if their lawyers win.

That’s because the justices told the attorneys the only issue they want them to debate now is whether Proposition 206 violates a provision of the Arizona Constitution. It says if an initiative forces the state to spend more money, it also must include a source for those dollars.

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(Update) Kansas is a cautionary tale for Arizona: state Supreme Court rules education funding is unconstitutionally low

Following up on an earlier post in which the right-wing Brownbackistan fna Kansas state legislature passed an income tax increase to balance the state budget after the devastating effects of Governor Sam Bownback’s “trickle down” tax cut utopia experiment, Kansas is a cautionary tale for Arizona: pigs do fly!, Governor Brownback made his choice to veto the tax increase.

As I predicted, there were enough Tea-Publican anti-tax “trickle down” true believer zealots in the legislature to sustain the governor’s veto. Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax policies survive — barely — after Kansas Senate vote: “Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature tax policy was saved by three votes as the Kansas Senate fell short Wednesday of overriding his veto on a bill that would have generated $1 billion over two years.” “[M]any lawmakers in the House remain committed to rolling back Brownback’s 2012 tax cuts, which they blame for the state’s fiscal hole, and it could take months before they achieve a compromise.”

It is easy to imagine our Koch-bot Governor Doug Ducey and the anti-tax zealots in our lawless Tea-Publican legislature doing the same thing. Rather than raise taxes and reject the dogma of their “trickle down” tax faith, they would rather fiddle while Rome Arizona burns.

Now Kansas — as very well Arizona may face  from a future lawsuit — has another budget-busting disaster on its hands. Kansas Supreme Court Says State Education Spending Is Too Low:

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the state’s spending on public education was unconstitutionally low, dealing a new blow to Gov. Sam Brownback, who is facing a rebellion from his own Republican Party over his trademark tax-cutting doctrine.

In a unanimous ruling, the court said black, Hispanic and poor students were especially harmed by the lack of funding, pointing to lagging test scores and graduation rates. The justices set a June 30 deadline for lawmakers to pass a new constitutional funding formula, sending them scrambling to find more money to pay for a solution.

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Our lawless Tea-Publican legislature is starving school districts, reducing classroom spending

Too few people read newspapers, and too many who do read only the headline caption to an article. Copy editors write the headlines, and too often the headlines are misleading and do not accurately reflect the content of the reporting.

For example, our sad small town newspaper the Arizona Daily Star ran the headline “Arizona spends less in classrooms” in its print edition, and “Arizona spending in classrooms declines year over year” in its online version for this Howard Fischer report. The Arizona Capitol Times similarly ran the headline “K-12 classroom spending reaches all-time low” for Fischer’s report.

So kudos to the copy editor of the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff for a headline that accurately reflects Howard Fischer’s reporting, Amid cuts in state capital funds, classroom spending falls:

Arizona’s mainstream public schools overall spent less of the money they received last year in the classroom than in any of the 16 years the state has been keeping track.

The trend tracks a cumulative $2 billion cut in state capital funding since 2009, forcing many school districts to shift dollars from teacher salaries and instruction into air conditioner and boiler repairs.

And state funding per pupil, when adjusted for inflation, has fallen from $8,794 in 2008 to $7,746 now.

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