Category Archives: Taxes

Not Fake News, Just Propaganda

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

Yesterday, a friend emailed me a copy of a Goldwater document that had been placed in all the “mail” boxes at his “Life Plan Community” (retirement/assisted living). The document was titled, “The Truth about Teacher Pay”, and dated April 12, 2018.

Even without the Goldwater logo at the top, I could have easily identified it as a right-wing propaganda piece. In it, the Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy, Matthew Simon, began by making the point that “though fingers are pointed at state legislatures with calls for higher teacher salaries, the reality is that in many cases, locally elected school district governing boards are responsible for the size of paychecks.” He went on to write that, “independently elected governing boards wield considerable power in their positions by creating policies, crafting school district budgets and setting teacher pay.”

Simon provides a couple of examples of the significant difference in pay between various school districts to make his point. He then writes that, “teachers in Arizona have launched their demands at legislators in a well-coordinated campaign.” Of course, this “well-coordinated campaign”, is just a dog-whistle to infer the big bad “union” is driving the train. Truth is, the #RedForEd effort comes from a grassroots movement. There is no statewide collective bargaining unit in Arizona, because our state is a “Right to Work” state. Which means, employees really have no rights at work. Continue reading

Governor Ducey’s ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ plan to fund teacher raises; teachers to vote on strike

After our Koch-bot Governor Ducey went from “those damn teachers should be grateful for the pittance I gave them” to doing a complete 180 degree flip-flop last week, saying he would agree to the teacher’s demands for a 20 percent pay increase by 2020, the question he left unanswered was “how do you intend to pay for it?” In a rare editorial opinion the Arizona Daily Star editorialized, Star Opinion: Gov. Ducey’s 20 percent teacher raises? Show us the money.

The Arizona Capitol Times has a partial answer today, and as you might expect, it’s the same old dog and pony show the GOP does with the state budget every year. Ducey proposes spending sweeps, reductions and rosy revenues to fund teacher raise. Lord help us.

Gov. Doug Ducey plans on funding a 20 percent teacher raise over the next three years with rosy revenue projections (magic!) and a mix of funding sweeps, lottery revenues and spending reductions.

State budget analysts provided legislators an analysis of Ducey’s plan, which the governor announced on April 12 amid emphatic teacher protests and threats of a strike. The governor promised he would push for a 9-percent raise in 2018, to be followed by 5 percent raises in the next two years.

That plan would cost the state $240 million in fiscal year 2019 alone. By FY21, the cost rises to $580 million, according to budget documents obtained by the Arizona Capitol Times.

In fiscal year 2019, that includes $176 million added to the base funding formula for K-12 schools, and $64 million in one-time dollars meant to act as “bridge” to the adjustment in Proposition 301 approved by the Legislature.

The Prop. 301 extension, approved in March, will shift $64 million in debt servicing to the Classroom Site Fund in fiscal year 2022, when the debt is paid off.

On top of those dollars, another $165 million would be added for teacher pay in fiscal year 2020, followed by $175 million in FY21.

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After Prop. 123, ‘we don’t get fooled again’

You can smell desperation coming from the governor’s office on the ninth floor.

Last year Gov. Ducey’s budget gave teachers a 2 percent raise over five years, or put another way, they would get a four-tenths of a percent raise per year over five years.

The legislature eventually settled on one percent last year — this was actually a one-time bonus — and one percent this year, with no promises for future pay raises.

The peasants should be grateful that we gave them anything.”

But now there is a national teachers revolt that has rocked West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and the grassroots educators group #RedForEd in Arizona is threatening a walkout of their own. Arizona teachers demand 20 percent raises, more money for students:

Frustrated and desperate, Arizona educators are demanding 20 percent pay raises to address the state’s teacher crisis and have threatened to take escalated action if state leaders don’t respond with urgency.

Besides the 20 percent teacher raises, educators’ demands are:

  • Restoring state education funding to 2008 levels. Arizona spends $924 less per student in inflation-adjusted dollars today than it did in 2008, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. Restoring education funding to that level would cost the state about $1 billion.
  • Competitive pay for all education support professionals, such as teachers’ aides and paraprofessionals. Dollar figures for this weren’t specified Wednesday.
  • A “permanent” step-and-lane salary structure in which teachers are guaranteed annual raises and steady advancement in wages.
  • No new tax cuts until the state’s per-pupil funding reaches the national average. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 figures, the most recent available, Arizona spent $7,489 per pupil compared with the national average of $11,392.

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Evil GOP bastards are plotting to deny your right to vote on Proposition 305

Tea-Publican state lawmakers are plotting with outside groups (read “Kochtopus” and Betsy DeVos) on a plan that could knock Proposition 305 off the November ballot before voters can decide the fate of Arizona’s expanded school-voucher program (vouchers on steroids bill). Will Arizona Republicans ‘repeal and replace’ voucher expansion to thwart referendum?

The goal is to repeal last year’s legislation that expanded the ESA program to all 1.1 million public-school students and replace it with legislation intended to address criticisms of the expansion, according to more than a half-dozen people familiar with the wide-ranging discussions.

Sen. Bob Worsley, a Republican from Mesa (a mythical moderate Republican), has talked in broad terms over the past week with lawmakers and outside groups about new Empowerment Scholarship Account legislation but did not offer specific details to The Arizona Republic.

The “repeal and replace” idea would circumvent Arizona’s referendum process, which allows voters to try to veto a law if they gather sufficient signatures to place it on the ballot.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan, the ‘zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin,’ announces his retirement

I must admit that I am conflicted about today’s news.

Part of me wants to do my happy dance over the GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, House Speaker Paul Ryan, announcing that he will not seek reelection. This guy has been the media’s biggest darling and intellectual fraud of the past two decades.

But by quitting he deprives me of the sweet joy of seeing him defeated and humiliated, as he was in 2012 as the vice presidential nominee of Willard “Mittens” Romney. Vice President Joe Biden destroyed him in the VP debate. I want the catharsis of seeing Ryan defeated and humiliated because this insufferable asshole so richly deserves it. Good riddance.

On an eventful day such as this, it is time to check in with one of Paul Ryan’s harshest critics with which to celebrate, Charles Pierce at Esquire. Paul Ryan Will Retire as the Biggest Fake in American Politics:

It’s probably too much to hope that Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, will dedicate his retirement to public service the way that his immediate predecessor has.

Acreage Holdings (“Acreage”) (www.acreageholdings.com), one of the nation’s largest, multi-state actively-managed cannabis corporations, announced the appointments of former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner and former Governor of the State of Massachusetts Bill Weld to its Board of Advisors.

Instead, he’s going back to Janesville to be the Dad he’s always wanted to be, home to his 5,786-foot Georgian mansion on Courthouse Hill, and its 13 rooms, six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, the little house on the Wisconsin prairie that Ryan was able to afford because he married money, the one that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. Paul Ryan has somehow amassed a fortune of between four and seven million dollars without holding any job except “Congressman” for the past 20 years.

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Governor Ducey disses Arizona teachers, inviting a teacher walkout

Reminder: Today is another #RedForEd Wednesday, wear red in support of Arizona’s embattled teachers.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Ducey to meet with ‘decision makers,’ not teachers to talk about salaries:

Gov. Doug Ducey won’t meet with the leaders of two teacher groups to talk about salaries and related issues even as they are taking the first steps toward a walkout.

The governor’s statement comes less than a week after a request by Noah Karvelis of Arizona Educators United and Joe Thomas of the Arizona Education Association “to begin a negotiation process to resolve the #RedForEd demands.”

That includes not just the 20-percent salary increase to compete with neighboring states but also restoring education funding levels to where they were a decade ago.

It also comes as Arizona Educators United, a grassroots group of teachers, is working with its member teachers to set a date for walkout to get the attention of Ducey and legislators and show they are serious.

Ducey, in essence, has written off both groups as irrelevant to his own education funding plans.

“We’re meeting with the decision makers,” the governor said, meaning school superintendents and other officials. “And we’re going to continue to meet with the decision makers.”

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