You may have noticed that we did not have a government shutdown for Christmas because Tea-Publicans in Congress agreed to a “clean” Continuing Resolution” (CR) to continue funding programs at current levels until January 19, when the real fight will take place.
Keeping the government funded was nearly an afterthought after Republicans celebrated passage of their historic tax bill and ditched town for the holiday season.
But in the rush to close out a year of turmoil in Washington, Congress left disaster aid, Dreamers and pensioners on the back burner, and gave only a temporary reprieve to children’s health insurance and spying powers. Even though lawmakers stripped out most additions to the spending bill, GOP leaders scrambled for days to clear it.
Catching up on my “to do” list on education issues in Arizona.
In late November, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities releaseda new analysis of school funding in 48 states which shows that funding for Arizona’s kindergarten to grade 12 public school system remains nearly 14 percent below what it was before the Great Recession hit in 2007. The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Arizona school funding still lagging, report shows:
The study by the Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan research institute showed that even with an infusion of money since Gov. Doug Ducey took office in 2016, the state’s per-pupil spending is well below its 2008 funding levels when adjusted for inflation. It also said per-pupil formula spending dropped last year by 1.2 percent.
Ducey has touted his efforts to boost K-12 spending, and laughingly proclaimed himself to be the “education governor.”
“Arizona has put more money into K-12 education over the last three years than any other state in the country, without raising taxes,” he told KTAR radio earlier this month. “It has been the focus of every budget that we’ve had.”
But much of that increase came from settling a lawsuit brought by schools that alleged the state illegally cut spending during the recession. [And that case was settled for substantially less than the restitution actually owed by our lawless Tea-Publican legislature for its theft of education funds.] The settlement added some state spending but most of the new cash came from increasing withdrawals from the state land trust dedicated to schools.
The study found that Arizona school funding hasn’t recovered from the cuts despite the new spending and could be getting worse, said Mike Leachman, the center’s state fiscal research director.
“It’s clear that Arizona school funding is down significantly and the data we have suggest further worsening at least in terms of formula funding, which is the major source for general support for all school districts in the state,” he said.
On Sept. 5, 2017, Attorney General and long-time anti-immigration advocate Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s decision to rescind President Obama’s executive order that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Implemented five years ago, DACA was supposed to be a stop-gap measure to shield children and young adults, who were brought to the US illegally as minors by their parents. The plan was that Congress would move on immigration reform while DACA protected these young people from immediate deportation.
Roughly 800,000 young adults under DACA could face deportation if Congress fails to act within the next six months. The crux of the problem is that DACA was created because Congress shirked its duty on meaningful immigration reform. For 16 years, Congress has failed to pass any immigration reform– let alone comprehensive reform, which is sorely needed. Even the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) — which outlined a path to citizenship for Dreamers– has died a bipartisan death in Congress multiple times, since it was originally proposed in 2001.
Progressive voices were heard loud and clear at Saturday’s Arizona Democratic Party (ADP) State Committee Meeting in Maricopa, Arizona.
Unlike some past ADP meetingswhere progressives were ignored or where progressive resolutions were tabled and not heard by the full ADP membership, the Maricopa meeting was dominated by progressives.
During the morning caucus meetings, approximately 80 members of the progressive caucus (pictured here) met in the booming high school cafeteria to hear about legalization of marijuana, the plight of Dreamers, and a host of progressive resolutions.
Following candidate speeches, including a rousing address by would-be governor Fred DuVal, the full State Committee heard staff reports, caucus reports, and resolutions. During the afternoon meeting of the entire State Committee, the corporate personhood and the Robin Hood Tax resolutions easily passed the entire body. Although the Resolutions Committee recommended against consideration of the Keystone XL Pipeline resolution and the clean elections resolution on technicalities, the State Committee membership overruled the Resolutions Committee and passed the anti-Keystone Pipeline resolution easily. The clean elections resolution was tabled until the court cases have been decided and could be heard at a future meeting. An additional resolution condemning private prisons also passed with little dissent. (The DREAMer resolution was new, and therefore, not heard by the entire body on Saturday.)
In addition to the progressive votes, State Committee members enthusiastically applauded Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) activists Dan O'Neal and Barbara Njos, who were arrested in Maricopa County last week at a pro-DREAMer protest.
For long-time Arizona progressives, Saturday’s meeting was a far cry from prior years’ meetings where all progressive resolutions were stopped by the Resolutions Committee on technicalities or tabled from the floor (and allowed to die). At the January 2013 meeting of ADP, many incumbents were voted out of the party leadership.
Is the ADP turning blue?
[For additional photos from Saturday's meeting, go here.]
The ACLU is claiming that, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), young people eligible for deferred deportation are "authorized to stay and lawfully present in the country" — not "illegal people."
Within the last year, Governor Jan Brewer had issued an executive order stating that Dreamers were not eligible to apply for Arizona drivers licenses or any state benefits because they are here "ilegally".
According to the New Times, the DHS says:
"An individual who has received deferred action is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be present in the United States, and is therefore considered by DHS to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect," the website says. "However, deferred action does not confer lawful status upon an individual, nor does it excuse any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence."
Tough luck, Jan, the Feds say Dreamers can drive… even in Arizona.
Last week– thanks to an executive memo by President Obama– millions of "Dreamers" were able to apply for deferred deportation, which will allow them to legally live in the US for two years. Dreamers are young, undocumented adults who, as young children, were brought to the US illegally by their parents. Deferred deportation would allow Dreamers to come out of the shadows to live and work without fear of being sent to a country they have never known.
In true heartless form, once the Dreamers were given hope, Arizona Goveror Jan Brewer set up roadblocks by issuing her own memo. Soon after young Arizonans started lining up to apply for deferred deportation, Brewer announced that in Arizona Dreamers would not be issued drivers' licences or state-issued ID card. One of the stipulations for being able to stay in the US is a clean legal record. Her denial of drivers' licenses sets up these young people. Not being able to a car is a serious burden in Arizona because cycling in the summer is grueling and public transportation is sketchy in the big cities and non-existent in the rural areas.
Brewer's actions quickly earned her the label of "George Wallace in a dress" because her memo clearly focused on pandering to the racists in her base and, furthermore, disregards what's best for our state– allowing Dreamers to integrate fully into American society and the workforce without fear of deportation.
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