Category Archives: Governor

AZ Court of Appeals to hear Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion appeal on Arizona statehood day

The long-delayed lawsuit by our Tea-Publican legislators and the Goldwater Instititute against Governor Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan, Biggs, et al v. Brewer, et al. (CV2013-011699 Maricopa County Superior Court). Biggs v. Betlach (1 CA-CV 15-0743), is scheduled for  oral argument today before the Court of Appeals Division One in Department A in Courtroom 1 at 9:30 a.m.

Cartoon_08I have previously explained that this case is ostensibly about the Obamacare medicaid expansion plan, but is really about preserving the GOP’s weapon of mass destruction, Prop. 108 (1992), the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” Amendment. AZ Court of Appeals revives GOP legislators’ challenge to Gov. Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion; Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion case set for hearing on July 30, 2015.

The Maricopa County Superior Court rejected the arguments of Tea-Publican legislators and the Goldwater Institute in August of last year. Superior Court judge upholds Brewer’s Medicaid expansion:

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge upheld former Gov. Jan Brewer’s 2013 Medicaid expansion plan, ruling that a hospital assessment that funds the program is not subject to a provision in the Arizona Constitution that requires a two-thirds vote in the Legislature for a tax increase.

Judge Douglas Gerlach ruled that HB2010 did not violate the supermajority provision, which voters approved in 1992 as Proposition 108, because it is not a tax and falls under an exemption to the two-thirds vote requirement.

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School ‘vouchers for all’ bills scheduled to be heard beginning Thursday

Our lawless Tea-Publican legislature intends to fast-track the unconstitutional “vouchers for all” bills today in committee hearings. Tea-Publican legislators routinely disregard the advice of legal counsel. Rules attorneys warn bills are unconstitutional — to no avail.

The Arizona Republic reports, Republicans fast-track school-voucher bill in Arizona Legislature:

Republican lawmakers in the Arizona Legislature are attempting to fast-track a plan to eventually offer vouchers to every public-school student and, in separate legislation, privatize oversight of the public money given to parents to pay private-school tuition and other expenses.

Beginning Thursday, the Legislature will train its sights on the plan to broaden eligibility for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, a school-choice program created six years ago for disabled children. Under the legislation, all of Arizona’s 1.1 million students would be eligible for the program by 2020.

Sen. Debbie Lesko, of Peoria (above), and Rep. John Allen, of Scottsdale, have introduced identical bills to expand the program in their chambers, a move intended to expedite passage. ESAs allow families to use public-school dollars on private-school tuition and other educational expenses.

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Repeal of ‘Obamacare’ would cause job losses and a ‘$5 billion hole’ in the Arizona economy

Whenever you talk about healthcare in the United States, keep in mind that it currently makes up 17 percent of the nation’s GDP, and represents the fastest growing sector of the economy. Healthcare to Become the Largest Employment Sector of the U.S. Economy: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare jobs and industries are “expected to have the fastest employment growth and to add the most jobs between 2014 and 2024.”

An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 6.3 million of the 11.5 million Americans who used the ACA marketplace to buy their insurance last year live in Republican Congressional districts.

Policy analysts say that a rollback of the ACA would hurt older and rural Americans — the two populations that favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. Trump Voters Stand to Suffer Most From Obamacare Repeal:

Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters are likely to be hit the hardest if he makes good on his promise to dismantle the Affordable Care Act[.]

“I think you’re going to get a disproportionate impact on people who supported Donald Trump but maybe don’t realize that his policies may end up hurting them instead of helping them,” said Michael O. Moore, a professor of economics and international affairs at George Washington University.

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Tea-Publican legislators, doing the bidding of our corporate overlords, are coming for your constitutional rights

I warned you about this earlier this year. Arizona’s authoritarian Tea-Publicans are coming for your constitutional rights.

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) has a lengthy report, A raft of bills would make Arizona’s initiative process more difficult:

More than a century after Arizona’s voters gave themselves a Constitution and the right to write laws, legislators still can’t quite accept the fact that they have competition.

And this year [Tea-Publican] legislators, backed by powerful business interests including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, are preparing to launch a sustained assault on the initiative process.

Legislators this year have proposed a rash of bills designed to make the initiative process more difficult. They’re proposing tougher signature-gathering requirements for groups seeking to change the law and restrictions on funding streams for initiative campaigns.

They’re also seeking an outright repeal of the Voter Protection Act, which prevents lawmakers from simply repealing voter-approved laws, or even changing them unless that change has bipartisan support and furthers the intent of the proposition.

Failing that, they’re hoping voters will at least go along with some reforms to the Voter Protection Act.

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Arizona Lege is ‘Robin Hood in reverse’ on public education funding

At a time when Gov. Doug Ducey boasted more than $100 million in new investments for education in his budget plan, a Senate panel advanced a bill that could put roughly double that amount of school funding in jeopardy. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Bill advances that could jeopardize more than $200 million in desegregation funds:

Over the objection of dozens of parents and local school officials, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 6-3 for SB1174, which eliminates the automatic levy of property taxes in more than a dozen Arizona school districts for funding allotted for desegregation and student achievement efforts.

Instead, the funding mechanism would have to be prompted by voters, in what would essentially be an override vote.

SB1174, sponsored by Sen. Debbie Lesko and pushed by the [conservative] Arizona Tax Research Association, would allow a special vote for up to seven years of funding at the level at which desegregation dollars were set in 2009.

Nineteen Arizona school districts levy those extra taxes for desegregation funding. The Phoenix Union High School District alone raised roughly $55.8 million in fiscal year 2015 in additional property taxes thanks to the state- and court-authorized taxing method. In fiscal year 2015, the tax levy in that and the other districts provided more than $211 million in funding.

School officials have argued that they are under strict scrutiny from courts and the U.S. Office of Civil Rights, and would be thrown into legal trouble if they don’t continue to utilize the taxes.

ATRA has for years pushed efforts to eliminate those funds [and Debbie Lesko has been their dutiful water carrier]. They claim it’s unfair to Arizona’s other school districts — particular those that neighbor the 19 districts receiving desegregation funding — that some schools can draw in more funds than others. Sean McCarthy, a research analyst at ATRA, claimed it’s a program that voters are woefully unaware of, and those that know of it want it gone.

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School ‘vouchers for all’ bill is baaack!

I have warned you for months now that the “vouchers for all” bill would be back in this legislative session, and sure enough . . .

Howard Fischer reports, Arizona proposal would expand ‘vouchers’ for private, parochial schools:

State lawmakers are making a new attempt to provide taxpayer-provided dollars to all 1.1 million students in Arizona schools to help their parents pay to instead send them to private and parochial schools.

The proposal by Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, would dramatically expand what has been a small program now reserved for students with special needs and those in failing schools. It would create what amounts to a universal “voucher” (aka “vouchers for all”) of state funds that could be used to pay tuition and fees at other (private and parochial) schools.

Now, this is the point where Howie should point out that this is unconstitutional, but nowhere in his report does he even mention this critical fact. Bad Howie!

The Arizona Constitution prohibits state funding to private and parochial schools:

Article 2, Section 12: “No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise, or instruction, or to the support of any religious establishment.”

Article 11, Section 7: “No sectarian instruction shall be imparted in any school or state educational institution that may be established under this Constitution, and no religious or political test or qualification shall ever be required as a condition of admission into any public educational institution of the state, as teacher, student, or pupil;”

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