Category Archives: Party Politics

Rep. Finchem seeks to dismantle ABOR – kill this bill

The Arizona Daily Star Political Notebook reports:

Republican Rep. Mark Finchem of Oro Valley is once again looking to break up Arizona Board of Regents and give control of the three state universities to the Governor and the state Legislature.

Fresh off of his failed attempt at similar legislation last year, Finchem crafted a strike-everything amendment to create three separate governing boards to make policy, funding and tuition decisions for Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona.

Those boards would be appointed by the Governor — with four members coming from the business community and three from the academic community.

University and ABOR officials lamented that the bill would set up the possibility that the universities would openly compete with each other for resources.

Finchem’s amendment was adopted on an unrelated bill heard in the Senate Natural Resources, Energy and Water Committee this week, allowing it to skip public hearings in the House. The bill still must be approved by the full Senate, then return to the House for a final vote, before landing on Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk.

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GOP legislators preemptively nullify a ballot measure not even on the ballot yet

The Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona citizens initiative that is currently circulating in the state would amend the state constitution to require that half of all electricity generated by most utilities to come from renewable sources by 2030. Backers have until July 5 to get at least 225,953 valid signatures on petitions to put the issue to voters in November. The citizens initiative effort is funded by NextGen America, a political advocacy group set up by California billionaire Tom Steyer.

In a state which has a GOP corporation commission that was bought and paid for by “Kochtopus” dark money through its tentacle Pinnacle West, the parent company of Arizona Public Service, this is a threat to their continued dominance over Arizona. Arizona is the playground of far-right billionaires, not for left-wing billionaires, dontcha know.

So the “Kochtopus” got their Tea-Publican lickspittle lackeys in the Arizona legislature to preemptively nullify this ballot measure even before it has qualified for the ballot. This may be a first in Arizona for thwarting the will of the voters in service to their corporate masters. Bill to undermine possible renewable energy vote goes to governor:

Claiming they’re protecting Arizonans from a California billionaire, Republican lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to legislation to allow the state’s utilities to effectively ignore any new voter-mandated requirements for renewable energy.

On paper, HB 2005 does not forbid voters from considering the Clean Energy for Healthy Arizona amendment to the state constitution.

But this legislation, which Arizona Public Service admitted it helped craft, spells out that if the measure is approved, the maximum fine utilities could face for violating the provisions would be $5,000. And it could be as little as $100.

GOP lawmakers made it clear that the intent of HB 2005, which now goes to Gov. Doug Ducey, was to ensure that it would not matter if voters side with the initiative organizers.

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Prop. 301 education sales tax extended by AZ Lege

Arizona lawmakers voted to extend the sales tax that helps fund public education, ensuring that more than $600 million in state revenues earmarked for schools will continue for another two decades. All Democrats and most Republicans joined to pass the bill 26-4 in the Senate and 53-6 in the House. Legislature passes education sales-tax extension:

The bill to extend Proposition 301 was fast tracked through the Senate and voted out of the House on Thursday afternoon amid mounting pressure from educators who have protested at the Capitol over inadequate funding for public schools.

Revenues from Prop. 301, a six-tenths of a cent sales tax approved by voters in 2000, provide funding for teacher pay and performance-based raises, among other education-related expenses.

If not extended, the sales tax is set to expire in June 2021. As approved by the House and Senate, SB 1390 ensures the tax will continue through June 2041.

A spokesman for Gov. Doug Ducey said he would sign the measure.

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House approves massive spending bill, moves to Senate to avert a government shutdown

The U.S. House of Representatives on a vote of 256-167 (proceeding under the TARGET Act) has approved a $1.3 trillion spending bill to avert a government shutdown and to fund federal agencies through Sept. 30, sending the measure over to the Senate ahead of a midnight Friday deadline.

Arizona Delegation: YES McSally, O’Halleran, Sinema; NO Biggs, Gallego, Gosar, Grijalva, Schweikert.

The Senate is expected to vote late on Thursday or Friday, before current government funding expires at midnight on Friday. There could still be another brief Aqua Buddha shutdown from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) desperately seeking attention.

You can read the massive 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion spending bill to search for what is hidden in it.

Here are a few highlights of what is (and is not) in the spending bill compiled from several sources including the Washington Post, Politico, and


Defense spending generally favored by Republicans is set to rise $80 billion over previously authorized budget sequester levels, including a 2.4 percent pay raise for military personnel and $144 billion for Pentagon hardware.

Domestic spending generally favored by Democrats is set to rise by $63 billion over previously authorized budget sequester levels, including increases in funding for infrastructure, medical research, veterans programs and efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. Civilian federal employees get a 1.9 percent pay raise.

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AZ Supreme Court sends Prop. 305 to the ballot (unless the AZ Lege sabotages it)

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled Voters can decide whether to keep school-voucher expansion:

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that voters get to have a say on Proposition 305, a ballot initiative that asks if they want to keep or do away with an expansion of the state’s school voucher-style program.

The Empowerment Scholarship Account program currently allows only certain students to apply for the program, including special-needs students and those from poor-performing schools. The program gives parents public money and allows them to spend it on private school tuition, educational materials and therapies.

Last year, Gov. Doug Ducey and Republican lawmakers narrowly passed legislation (the “vouchers on steroids” bill) to expand eligibility to all 1.1 million public students but capping the program at about 30,000.

A mostly grassroots group of parents and public-education advocates called Save Our Schools Arizona collected enough signatures to refer the expansion to the November 2018 ballot.

But supporters of the expansion — the “Kochtopus” and their Tea-Publican lackeys in the legislature — waged a legal battle to try to keep the initiative off the November ballot.

The decision from the high court deals a final court blow to those supporters and upholds a lower court decision.

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#RedForEd Rally gets their attention, AZ Lege to consider Prop. 301 extension Today

Wednesdays are now #RedForEd days at the Arizona capitol as long as the legislature is in session. Supporters of education and our teachers should wear red on Wednesdays in a demonstration of unity and support.

Protesters on Wednesday included dozens of teachers from nine schools in west Phoenix and Glendale who called in sick in the first job action teachers have called since organizing earlier this month. The teacher sick-out is the first action of this kind stemming from the statewide #RedForEd movement among educators. The sick-out has spurred social-media discussion among teachers in other school districts about taking similar action.

At the Capitol, hundreds of teachers and educational staff wore red to a rally organized by the Arizona Education Association. Sea of red engulfs Capitol as teachers protest:

“Gov. Doug Ducey needs to prepare himself … because I think this is only the first ripple effect,” said Kassandra Dominguez, a first-grade teacher at the K-8 Sunset Ridge Elementary who led the sick-out. “It’s going to keep happening.”

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“Teachers are tired of not receiving the funds that we need in our classrooms and in our pockets,” Dominguez told a group of educators outside the Capitol. “We have teachers eating ramen noodles for dinner. We’re out of college and still eating ramen.”

Dominguez said she welcomes Ducey to buy her a cup of coffee, because she can’t afford it, and talk to her about what’s going on in the classroom. She said she spends more than $1,000 a year out of her own pocket on supplies for her classroom.

“At the end of the day, which is something that the senators in there don’t see and Governor Ducey doesn’t see, the kids are paying for it,” she said. “I think the bigger picture here is that they forget that a teacher educated them.”

Immediately after, the group began marching around the Capitol, chanting “Red for Ed!”

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