Tag Archives: Americans for Prosperity

Happy Valentine’s Day…NOT!

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

On this Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d ask, when it comes to our public schools students in Arizona, “who loves you baby?”  Yesterday, I was listening in on the AZ House Education Committee meeting. There were many bills on the agenda, but I was primarily interested in HB 2394; empowerment scholarship accounts [ESAs]; expansion; phase-in. I wasn’t hopeful the bill would die, as its companion bill SB 1431, had already been given a due-pass by the Senate Education Committee. As expected, HB 2394 followed suit on a 6–5 vote as did HB 2465, which will allow all students eligible for an ESA account to remain on the program until age 22 and for up to $2,000 a year to be put into a 529 savings account.

The passage of these bills, along with the companion ones in the Senate, demonstrate the disdain many GOP legislators have for our district schools and, for the underpaid educators who toil within. This, because ESAs divert more general fund revenue per student to private schools than district schools receive. As reported by the Arizona School Boards Association, an ESA student, on average, costs the state general fund $1,083 more in grades K–8, and $1,286 more in grades 9–12 than a district student. This is in part because there are many school districts that enjoy a fair amount of locally controlled support in the way of overrides and bonds. The state therefore, is relieved of providing equalization funding to them, but when students leave to go to private schools, all the funding must come from the state general fund. ESA students also receive charter additional assistance funding of roughly $1,200 per student, which district schools do not receive. Turns out that the claim of voucher proponents that they save the state money, is not just “alternative facts” but totally untrue. And, although voucher proponents love to claim there is no harm to district schools when students take their funding and leave, the truth is that about 19 percent of a districts costs are fixed (teacher salaries, transportation, facility repair and maintenance, utilities) and can’t be reduced with each student’s departure. Continue reading

From Georgia to North Carolina to Arizona – Conservatives Stand Up on the Side of Energy Self Reliance

by Will Greene

Perhaps the most exciting development in the world of energy
has emerged in the last few months. 
In a country paralyzed by political gridlock on every issue right down
to creamy or chunky peanut butter, a bipartisan majority is hardening around
the concept of a national transition to renewable energy.

The most accurate indicator of this gathering tide of
public opinion might be the frantic attempts by those still clinging to the conventional energy
model – to halt it.

Petro-funded “Americans for Prosperity” last week found
itself in deep-red Georgia battling the “Tea Party Patriots” over a proposal to
dramatically increase the state’s commitment to solar energy.  In a 4-1 vote at the Georgia Public
Service Commission, the tea party group got its way – and Georgia will now
double its use of solar energy, giving consumers more energy choice and the
option to pursue greater energy self-reliance.  Attorneys for utility Georgia Power, despite adamantly
opposing the measure, conceded
the move “likely won’t affect power bills”.

In North Carolina fossil-funded American Legislative
Exchange Council (ALEC) suffered a big defeat at the hands of bipartisan
lawmakers who defended the state’s Renewable Energy Standard.

ALEC rolled out its attack on Renewable
Energy Standards across the country dubbing 2013 “the most active year ever in
terms of efforts to repeal them” according to Todd
Wynn, task force director for energy for ALEC. 

According to Bloomberg
none of the 26 bills to cut requirements passed before most state
legislature sessions ended.  Eight
states voted to strengthen or modify laws that require utilities to purchase
electricity produced from renewable sources.

Arizona’s own Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce briefly
flirted
with lowering Arizona’s popular
Renewable Energy Standard, before withdrawing the proposal amid a significant public
outcry
against the idea.

More recently in Arizona a DC based operation called “60 Plus
Association” has spent thousands on online advertising
attempting to tie Arizona’s solar industry to predatory California-based
companies.  Trying to sell solar
energy as something non-native to Arizona – a state literally scorched by the
power of the sun – is quite a public relations strategy. 

Ryan Randazzo of the Arizona Republic reported
on Friday
the probable connection of Arizona Public Service, the state’s
largest utility, to the 60 Plus campaign.

While the 60 Plus campaign has fizzled, a push led by former
Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr. has received wide media
attention
and public support. 
Goldwater’s group “Tell Utilities
Solar won’t be Killed
”, or TUSK, is flying the Republican banner for energy
choice and self-reliance, targeting APS’ impending threats to Arizona’s net
metering program.

There is no doubt still mistrust towards renewable energy existing
in many factions of the Republican Party. 
A steady diet of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh has soured some to
the potential of America's wind swept plains and sun drenched deserts to power our country forward in the 21st century. 
But their defeatist approach to the energy transition opportunity appears
to be slowly losing out among Republican Party faithful – to the country and
Arizona’s benefit.


The author can be reached at williambgreene9@gmail.com

Progressives Shut Out of Koch Brothers Medicaid Forum

Loft2013-03-07-2-sm72-sigby Pamela Powers Hannley

Thanks to publicity on this blog, social media, and e-mail blasts, progressives and other Democrats came to the Americans for Prosperity "public forum" on Medicaid expansion last night at The Loft Cinema. Too bad we couldn't get in.

Approximately 20 pro-healthcare reform advocates, plus six journalism students, and two bloggers were shut out of the tightly controlled forum. In addition, City Councilman Steve Kozachik was "uninvited" to participate in the panel. Although public announcements of the event in the Tucson Weekly, the Arizona Daily Star, and the Pima County GOP website didn't say that reservations were required, the only people who were admitted were those who RSVP'd to the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity e-mail blast, linked to this article.

The only two members of Progressive Democrats of American (PDA) Tucson who were admitted are both doctors. (Of course, they were not wearing PDA Healthcare Not Warfare stickers. None of us holding the banner in front of The Loft or trying to distribute Healthcare Not Warfare stickers got in.)

After the jump, read a first hand account by Dr. Eve Shapiro, head of PDA Tucson's healthcare reform issue organizing team, and more about Koz and job creation with Medicaid expansion.

From Shapiro…

We stayed for almost the first hour. Tom Betlatch, director of AHCCCS, spoke first and gave a very good overview of AHCCCS, Prop 204, and the current state of the uninsured and the effect on the hospitals, etc. He also read some stories from their website about people losing insurance and facing death.

Don Hughes spoke next; he is [Governor Jan] Brewer's health policy advisor. He talked about Brewer's struggle with the issue and why she chose to go with the expansion (I think as a way to get the audience to see why Republicans should support it). He also talked about the effect on rural hospitals of increasing the uninsured population.

Next Tom Jenney (from Americans for Prosperity) spoke and said a lot of inaccurate information about AHCCCS: its a bad program that gives poor care, it would cost the state a lot of money, etc. At one point, he said doctors are fleeing AHCCCS at which point Paul [Shapiro's husband] and I yelled out that that wasn't true and that we are physicians. I think he lost his cool a little at that point.

Betlatch responded by asking what proposal Jenney would make instead and challenged some of his statements as not factual. Jenney couldn't answer and acknowledged that he had no alternative. Hughes challenged him about the value of AHCCCS. The next speaker was [former State Senator] Frank Antonori, and we decided we couldn't stand any more and left.

The audience was pretty significantly oriented to Jenney's group [Americans for Prosperity], although many of us clapped for Betlatch and Hughes. [Former State Representative] Dr. Matt Heinz was up to speak after Antonori, and Dr. Jane Orient was there as well (libertarian doctor). The audeince was obviously a lot smaller than we had anticipated, since it was in the new room at the Loft which probably doesn't seat mores than 100 people.  I doubt any minds were changed, since the people there only cared about taxes. I think they represent a small group, though, and I doubt it will have any impact on the debate. The event was recorded. [Emphasis added.]

It's really too bad that the venue was small and that the journalism students, bloggers, and people with differing viewpoints were not allowed into the theater. I had my video camera and was ready to record the event– as I have with other truly public, bipartisan forums. We should have expected this. Prior to the event, Tea Party organizers played politics with the panel invitees. Initially, Kozichik was to represent the Grand Canyon Institute on the panel, but he was uninvited. State Senator Steve Farley was billed as being on the panel, but word is that he may have declined to participate because of the pre-event gamesmanship with the panel. 

Did the Tea Party dump Koz from the program because they're still pissed off about his defection from the Republican Party, or did they not want the Grand Canyon Institute's message heard– and taped? According to a report from the Grand Canyon Institute, Medicaid expansion would save the Arizona general fund $1.2 billion and create 21,000 jobs. (Read the full report here.)

Create jobs and save billions? That's not a message the Koch Brothers want people to hear; instead, they want to spoon feed the public messages like the one from last night's anti-Obamacare movie, Sick and Sicker. It is a scare tactic hit piece about expansion of coverage and long wait times for doctor visits in Canada. The movie trailer includes quotes from a doctor who predicts that Americans will die waiting for healthcare if the Affordable Care Act is allowed to go forward and cover more of the uninsured. The key point that is left out? People are dying now because they don't have access to care or they delay care because of the cost.

Since so many voices were shut out of this forum, the sole video record will show a homogeneous audience opposed to healthcare reform and big guv'mint. It's ironic that the Tea Party, which claims to be all about preserving the Constitution, shut out the public voice and the media.