Category Archives: Legislation

New study: ‘Arizona teacher recruitment, retention and pay are at crisis levels’

ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy has a new report coming out in May on education in Arizona that it is previewing this week. Here is the summary I received by email with the highlights from its (corrected) Key Facts brief added in.

Top findings from new report show crisis levels for Arizona teacher recruitment, retention and pay

PHOENIX – Arizona teacher recruitment, retention and pay are at crisis levels with more teachers leaving the profession annually than bachelor of education degrees produced by the three universities, compounded by an exodus of instructors for reasons ranging from retirement to poor salaries.

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Those are just some of the data points and facts in the upcoming Morrison Institute for Public Policy report, Finding & Keeping Educators for Arizona’s Classrooms. The study’s top facts are being released today in a two-page brief, with the full report to be released in May.

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Why no state budget? Governor Ducey’s university bonding plan

This was supposed to be the week that the Arizona legislature passed a budget and then declared sine die. Didn’t happen.

According to the Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required), the holdup is Governor Doug Ducey’s university bonding proposal, the one he mentioned in his State of The State Address back in January but has still not fleshed out the details at this late date. Ducey’s bonding plan for universities has more questions than details:

Gov. Doug Ducey’s university bonding proposal is a vast unknown for Arizona lawmakers.

He doesn’t offer any long-term growth projections or specifics on how the state’s three universities will spend the $1 billion that the plan is supposed to generate. There is also no mention of oversight from the Governor’s Office or from the plan’s backers.

Lawmakers do understand the broad strokes of the universities’ wish list if they get the money: new buildings, research programs and repairs.

But the plan almost certainly will generate much more than needed to pay off a $1 billion loan over the course of its 30-year life, a fact acknowledged by both backers and foes, and that’s something lawmakers question.

Lawmakers are also hearing from cities and counties, which look to lose millions of dollars under the plan. Ken Strobeck, president of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, said the plan is opaque by design, and he’s done his own analysis that shows the universities will gain more than $1 billion.

“These are not uninformed people,” Strobeck said. “I think they knew exactly what they were doing.”

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GOP to try again with a zombie ‘Trumpcare’ plan, and hurtle towards a government shutdown next week

Congress returns from its recess next week with a government shutdown looming next Friday. “If Congress does not strike the first truly bipartisan deal of his presidency by then, Donald Trump will spend his 100th day explaining to the public why the government he’s charged with running has partially shut down.” How Trump’s First 100 Days Could End in a Government Shutdown.

But first, Tea-Publicans apparently believe they have enough time to try to raise a zombie “Trumpcare” plan from the dead. Sarah Kliff reports at Vox.com, House GOP members are floating a new health plan. Here’s what’s in it.

House Republicans are floating a new amendment to their health care bill — one that would likely cause even more Americans to lose coverage than the last version.

Leaders of the staunchly conservative Freedom Caucus and the more moderate Tuesday Group have reportedly hashed out a proposal that would let some states ditch key Obamacare policies, such as the requirement to charge sick people the same for coverage as healthy people. States would also have the choice to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefit requirement.

The Huffington Post reported on the development late Wednesday night, and Politico posted a short white paper early Thursday describing the changes. We still don’t know how final this amendment is or which House Republicans support the changes.

What we do know is that this latest proposal doesn’t do much at all to assuage concerns about the older proposals. While it meets many of the demands of the party’s far-right wing — namely, the deregulation of the individual insurance market — it does nothing to address concerns about massive coverage loss. Instead, it likely makes those problems worse.

“It’s pretty frustrating to see they’ve worked so hard to come up with another Rube Goldberg–type solution,” says Craig Garthwaite, a health economist at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business.

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A preview of the March for Science

Scientists, and those who just love scientific method, will march on Washington, D.C. (and hundreds of satellite marches around the globe) this Saturday in support of scientific research and scientific-based public policy decision making. The March for Science, explained:

Inspired by the success of the January 21 Women’s March on Washington, the March for Science will celebrate the scientific method and advocate for evidence-based decision-making in all levels of government. Though the event’s website doesn’t explicitly mention Trump, it’s a protest of his administration’s policies, including his proposal to cut billions in funding for scientific research.

The march is likely to draw a lively crowd — and the nerdiest protest signs you can imagine. Here’s what you need to know about it.

What will happen at the March for Science?

On April 22, science-friendly individuals will gather on the National Mall, and in dozens of satellite marches across the United States and even around the globe. The Earth Day Network — the nonprofit that organizes Earth Day events every year — has taken the lead on programming for the march.

The main event will be co-hosted by Questlove (of the Roots and The Tonight Show) and Derek Muller (who runs a popular science YouTube channel). Jon Batiste and Stay Human (the band for Stephen Colbert’s Late Show) will serve as the house band.

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Rep. Martha McSally, Trumpism and ‘America First’

The organization Save My Care says it “is a movement to bring together families, advocates and health care providers to protect the health and financial security of all Americans.”

The group is spending more than $1 million on ads during the congressional recess to urge people to contact their member of Congress to help keep the GOP’s American Health Care Act from becoming law. Rep. Martha McSally targeted for supporting GOP health bill.

Rep. Martha McSally supported the American Health Care Act pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump, saying the amended bill “increases choice and access while bringing down health-care costs.” It does not. Not even Republicans are supportive of the American Health Care Act, and the public overall disapproved of the GOP plan by a margin of 56 percent to 17 percent. The public opposed cutting federal funds to Medicaid by an even larger margin — 74 percent to 22 percent. But not Martha McSally, who stands with her man Trump.

Five Thirty Eight’s congressional tracker (updated through April 7) shows McSally voting 100% with the positions of Donald Trump.

This is the 30 second ad you have seen airing against Rep. Martha McSally from Save My Care.

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It is a hard hitting and apparently effective ad.

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‘The end is near’ for legislative session

Some key legislative deadlines are approaching, and yet, there is no white smoke wafting from the chimney of the governors office to announce that there is a state budget worked out between the governor and the GOP leadership.

UPCOMING DEADLINES:

April 14 Last day for conference committees
April 18 100th day of session
April 22 Date required by rule for sine die adjournment unless leaders
extend the deadline. Leadership can extend it no more than 7
days; thereafter any extension requires a majority vote in each
house.

Nevertheless, the Arizona Republic reports today, Tick-tock: Will the Arizona Legislature finish its work next week?

Attention Capitol watchers: Tuesday is the heralded 100th day of the legislative session. Traditionally, that signals it’s time for the state Legislature to wrap up and get out of town by the time the end of the week rolls around.

And while chatter is increasing that maybe, just MAYBE, the Legislature will pop out a budget in the next several days, there likely is not enough time to finish everything and adjourn sine die (for “without a day”) by April 22.

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, and Senate President Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, agree that their chambers are largely unified in what they want in the $9.6 billion budget for fiscal 2018. They have previously noted their budget assumptions don’t differ much from Gov. Doug Ducey’s.

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