Category Archives: Constitution

Don’t be confused – vote no on Prop. 305, the referendum on the ‘vouchers on steroids’ bill

I have previously explained that opponents of Arizona’s “vouchers on steroids” bill, SB 1431, and even supporters of the “vouchers on steroids” bill are urging voters to vote no on Prop. 305, the citizens referendum on SB 1431. So we’re all agreed: No on Prop. 305 (and elect a Democratic legislature and governor).

So what’s the problem?

Apparently voters are confused by the intentionally misleading ballot measure description on the ballot. Some people think this is a scholarship fund, rather than a voucher transferring public tax dollars to private and parochial schools.

Laurie Roberts of The Republic reports Prop. 305, expanding school vouchers, could pass? I think I’m going to faint:

Somebody find me some smelling salts. A recent statewide poll shows Proposition 305 could well pass.

According to the Suffolk University/Arizona Republic poll, 41 percent of Arizona voters support diverting more tax money to private schools by expanding the state’s voucher program.

According to the poll, they like the idea of creating a two-tier system of schools: publicly subsidized private ones for the children of parents who can afford to pay the difference between what a voucher is worth and what tuition costs, and poorly funded public ones for the kids whose parents can’t.

Yep, I definitely am feeling woozy. Either that, or 41 percent of Arizona voters don’t know what the heck Prop. 305 actually does.

I’m going with that one.

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‘Don’t be fooled by legislative flimflam’ – vote no on Prop. 306

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry opposed the citizens initiative to create the Citizens Clean Elections Commissions. They lost.  They have used their lickspittle lackeys in Arizona’s GOP-controlled legislature ever since to undermine the commission – with some success – with the goal to eventually destroy it.

Their latest effort is Prop. 306 which misleading claims to reform some clean elections rules. Don’t be fooled by the language of the ballot measure.

Mark Kimble, former editor of the now defunct Tucson Citizen, has an op-ed at the Arizona Daily Star which explains Prop 306 imperils nonpartisan Citizens Clean Elections Commission:

Twenty years ago, Arizona voters approved formation of the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, to “improve the integrity of Arizona state government and promote public confidence in the Arizona political process.”

But on the November ballot, the Arizona Legislature, using Prop. 306, is trying to trick you into doing away with the nonpartisan Clean Elections Commission. They want you to turn the entire process over to a shadow group of political appointees, all of whom would represent only the party of the governor.

Legislators want to do all they can to make sure the sources of dark money in political campaigns remain secret. And they want your help.

Take a close look at Prop. 306 and understand what the real goal is.

The majority in the Legislature knew that if they put on the ballot a clearly worded proposition to do away with clean elections, it would be soundly rejected. So they resorted to obfuscation and misdirection.

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Voter Approval of Prop. 126 will Cut Education and Road Funding

If voters approve Prop. 126 on Nov. 6, the state will lose $250 million annually in current funding for education and counties will have a dramatic shortfall in money for road improvements.

The Grand Canyon Institute estimates that the education sales tax renewal will lose one-third of
revenues if Prop. 126 passes, which would currently amount to $250 million annually. See Consequences of Prop. 126: $250 million cut to education, future cuts to transportation funding and higher taxes on goods

The Protect Arizona Taxpayers Act would amend the Arizona Constitution to restrict state and municipal governments from imposing any taxes on services which were not already in place as of Dec. 31, 2017.

What are “services”

Currently, “services” encompass 33 percent of revenues for statewide sales taxes. When this 33 percent exclusion is applied, prospective education sales tax revenues decrease $250 million annually. The “service” category includes hotels stays, bars, restaurants, amusements such as tickets to sporting events and movies, insurance premiums, and rentals of cars and real estate.

One consequence of Prop. 126 is the elimination of any taxes on services included within sales tax measures that are scheduled to be renewed in the future. Prop. 126 would reduce revenue by a third from Prop. 301, the 0.6 cent education sales tax set for renewal in 2021.

A similar problem occurs for counties that use the sales tax to fund road improvements. Maricopa and Pima counties have measures expiring in 2025 and 2026, respectively. If Prop. 126 passes, any renewal of those taxes will lose almost 40 percent of their revenue, likely meaning they will seek to raise the tax on goods even higher.

“Voters should not be fooled.  Passage of the proposition would limit opportunities for the state and municipal governments to increase revenue by expanding the sales tax to include more services at some point in the future. Currently, Arizona exempts most services from taxation,” said Dave Wells, research director with the Grand Canyon Institute (GCI).

Too many special tax exemptions

Prop 126 is a special interest proposition has been supported entirely by realtors.  Opposition to Prop 126 includes the conservative Americans for Prosperity, the centrist Grand Canyon Institute (GCI) and Arizona League of Cities and Towns, and the liberal Arizona Center for Economic Progress and the affiliated Children’s Action Alliance.

“Lawmakers have consistently reduced taxes and increased tax exemptions over the past 25 years, leading to a reduction in state revenues by $4 billion annually,” says George Cunningham, chair of the Grand Canyon Institute. “GCI has taken a position against Prop. 126 because Arizona can’t afford to permanently close the door on additional sources of revenue needed for education, roads, public safety, and other essential services.”

Rejection of the ballot measure leaves open the opportunity for taxing services – a broad category of items that could be taxed individually such as child care, nail salons, or financial services, or as an entire category.

Currently, the state sales tax includes goods and some services but together they have become a smaller portion of the economy. As a consequence, the state sales tax brings in $1 billion less in revenue than it did two decades ago.

 

The Sausage Party declares women are an ‘angry mob’ that threatens the privileged white male patriarchy

The transformation of the GOP over the past two weeks has moved at remarkable speed.

President Trump went from declaring Christine Blasey Ford a “very fine woman” and “certainly a very credible witness” after she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegation of sexual assault, to just days later using her as a prop at one of his Nuremberg campaign rallies, lying about her testimony and playing the privileged white male as victim card, to chants of “lock her up” from his personality cult of Trump. Trump mocks Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, tells people to ‘think of your son’.

Trump and his enablers in the GOP then moved on to saying those who made ‘false statements’ about Kavanaugh ‘should be held liable’ and Saying Brett Kavanaugh Was ‘Caught Up In A Hoax’ And ‘Did Nothing Wrong’, to falsely saying Kavanaugh was ‘proven innocent’ at his swearing-in ceremony. The coup de grâce came when Trump apologized ‘on behalf of the nation’ to Kavanaugh “for the terrible pain and suffering” that he and his family endured during his confirmation process.

Not in my name!

In just two weeks, Brett Kavanaugh went from being credibly accused of sexual assault to the privileged white male victim of a hoax who should be able to exact retribution against his female accusers, according to the pussy-grabber-in-chief.

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A constitution designed to preserve slavery now undermines our democracy

America’s original sin, slavery, continues to define our society and political institutions to this day. This is because the U.S. Constitution, which was designed to preserve slavery, now undermines our democracy.

If Americans believe in democracy — and one of our two major political parties, the Party of Trump fka the Republican Party, decidedly does not — we must move to amend the Constitution to remove the lingering vestiges of slavery and usher in a revival of American democracy.

Voting is a privilege of citizenship under the Constitution. There is no express guarantee in the Constitution that the franchise to vote is a fundamental constitutional right. This has allowed the states to disenfranchise and to discriminate against its citizens denying them their vote in a myriad of creative ways. An amendment guaranteeing the franchise to vote is a fundamental constitutional right is necessary to fight GOP voter suppression efforts.

The electoral college is a lingering vestige of slavery. There is no direct popular vote election of the president and vice president, as in every other modern democracy in the world. Americans vote for electors who then vote to elect the president and vice president. There have been five United States presidential elections in which the electoral college winner lost the popular vote, twice since 2000, favoring Republicans. It is long past time to amend the Constitution to repeal the electoral college and adopt the direct popular vote election of president and vice president as in every other modern democracy in the world. Republicans are likely to oppose repeal of the electoral college because they have lost the popular vote in six of the last seven elections.

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Despite massive opposition, Republicans are set to confirm the most unpopular judicial nominee in American history

More than 2,400 law professors sign letter opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation:

Signatories included Martha Minow — the former dean of Harvard Law School, where Kavanaugh taught a popular course — other law school deans and former deans, and some scholars who previously supported Kavanaugh.

“As someone who knew and liked Brett Kavanaugh when we clerked together, I have tried very hard to stay out of this process and to give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Mark Lemley, a professor at Stanford Law School. But Kavanaugh’s behavior at the hearing last week “was not what we should expect of a Supreme Court Justice. Telling obvious lies about his background, yelling at senators, refusing to answer questions, and blaming his troubles on others is not appropriate behavior.”

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Another letter, signed by about 900 female law professors, asked the Senate to reject Kavanaugh’s appointment. As a law professor, “it is my responsibility to teach my students the highest standards of professionalism and decorum,” Karla McKanders, a professor of law at Vanderbilt University Law School, said in an email. “Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony undermines the legal profession and would undermine the authority of the Supreme Court.”

In an unprecedented move, life-long Republican and Former Justice John Paul Stevens said Judge Kavanaugh is not qualified to sit on the court:

Justice Stevens said he came to the conclusion reluctantly, changing his mind about Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination after the second round of the judge’s confirmation hearings last week. Judge Kavanaugh’s statements at those hearings, Justice Stevens said, revealed prejudices that would make it impossible for him to do the court’s work, a point he said had been made by prominent commentators.

“They suggest that he has demonstrated a potential bias involving enough potential litigants before the court that he would not be able to perform his full responsibilities,” Justice Stevens said in remarks to retirees in Boca Raton, Fla. “And I think there is merit in that criticism and that the senators should really pay attention to it.”

“For the good of the court,” he said, “it’s not healthy to get a new justice that can only do a part-time job.”

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