Category Archives: Legislation

Arizona GOP renews its war on public education

Last year Governor Doug Ducey was forced into increasing his offer of a one percent pay increase for public school teachers to an incremental twenty percent pay increase over two years in response to the Red For Ed teacher strike in Arizona. Governor Ducey suggested at the time that this was just a down payment on restoring massive cuts to public education since the Great Recession and subsequent years over the past decade. Governor Ducey went so far as to market himself as the “education governor” in his reelection bid.

Now that the election is past, that down payment on public education funding talk is nowhere to be found. In his State of The State address on Monday, “the governor talked mostly about programs and initiatives he’s rolled out before, such as the Arizona Teacher’s Academy and his school safety plan. He did not propose any new funding plans, sticking to his 20 by 2020 plan and doubling down on his promise for no tax hikes. What Gov. Doug Ducey said (and didn’t say) about education in State of the State address:

Ducey said he would continue to “hold the line” on raising taxes, signaling a lack of support for any education-related tax increases, possibly like the one state Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, proposed before the legislative session even started.

The governor didn’t address the possibility of finding new revenue streams for education.

He did pledge to keep his promise to raise teachers’ salaries by 20 percent by 2020.

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New Progressive Enthusiasm and Energy at Arizona’s State Capital

Democratic Lawmakers rally at the Capital Rose Garden on the first day of the Legislative Session. Photo courtesy of Lynsey Robinson, Second Vice Chair of the Maricopa County Democratic Party.

There is a new Progressive Enthusiasm and Energy at Arizona’s State Capital

It can be seen in the hallways where people crowded the Democratic offices of the House joyfully discussing the legislative prospects for 2019.

It could be seen with the female Democratic legislators wearing white to honor the suffragette movement of 100 years ago.

It could be seen in the early morning rallies with progressive organizations and legislative leaders passionately expressing hope for their ideas and proposals for the New Year.

It could be seen on the House Floor where the parties are at their closest margins since 1966 and some state offices (Education and Secretary of State) were held once again by Democrats.

Democrats, encouraged by the 2018 elections, are ready to shape the legislative agenda and propel the state in a forward direction. Thanks to the gracious invitation of Legislative District 18 (where the author is also a PC) State Representative Mitzi Epstein, this writer was able to witness the events of the day including Governor Ducey’s State of the State Address.

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Fact checking Trump’s prime time address

Media critic Erik Wemple of the Washington Post accurately notes The networks interrupted their programming for the lamest rerun on television, Donald Trump’s racist white nationalist anti-immigrant fear mongering. Trump used the Oval Office to try to create a border crisis.

Trump’s frustrated sales pitch on the border wall reverted to his oldest political tactic: Fear. Trump’s real fear is the loss of his white nationalist political base who feed off the epistemic closure of the “conservative misinformation feedback loop” media bubble. Trump’s public case for his wall has collapsed entirely, and in Trump Nation, that’s the “national emergency.” The real national emergency is the threat of Trump’s collapse.

Media critics had urged networks to take precautions ahead of his speech. ‘This president lies daily’: Critics demand networks fact-check Trump’s live immigration speech.

Afterwards, TV hosts say Trump speech lacked news. Dems say ‘told you so.’

Real-time analysis from on-air journalists followed Trump’s white nationalist propaganda. Anchors Scramble to Fact-Check Trump After Prime-Time Address:

NBC anchor Chuck Todd came on air with a blunt assessment. “He made a lot of dubious claims,” Mr. Todd informed millions of viewers after the network’s scheduled program had been pre-empted for a rare prime-time presidential appearance.

Shepard Smith on the Fox News network told viewers that contrary to Mr. Trump’s assertions, “statistics show there is less violent crime by the undocumented immigrant population than by the general population.”

And on ABC, the White House correspondent Cecilia Vega took issue with Mr. Trump’s depiction of a southern border in crisis. “Just because you say it’s a crisis,” Ms. Vega said, “doesn’t necessarily make it one.”

The post-speech fact checking has been brutal. Continue reading

Trump manufactures a ‘national emergency’ to abuse the power of his office

Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man.” – General George S. Patton

Donald Trump has shut down the federal government over his demand for $5 billion (now $5.6 billion) for his “big beautiful wall” on the Mexico border, a monument to the stupidity of this man. The amount of money being fought over is a rounding error in what it would actually cost to build his wall. See the Brookings Institute, The Wall: The real costs of a barrier between the United States and Mexico.

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This is a “crisis” manufactured by the Trump administration in an effort to extort money from Congress, which has routinely rejected his request in appropriations bills. Trump himself has agreed to these appropriations bills until he reneged on the latest deal in December after right-wing propagandists in the conservative media entertainment complex attacked him for agreeing to the appropriations bills. Do we really want right-wing propagandists like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity dictating public policy?

Oh, and Mexico is not paying for this monument to the stupidity of this man, you will.

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Should seniors skate?

The Legislative session doesn’t start for another week and a half and I’m already tired of the bad ideas being proposed. I previously wrote about HB2002 Rep. Mark Finchem’s (R-Oro Valley) proposal, which would “allow the state to fire teachers who discuss politics, religion, or racial issues in classroom settings.” Yesterday, Newsweek picked up on Phoenix New Times reporting that nine of the points in his bill were “lifted directly from the Stop K–12 Indoctrination campaign, which the David Horowitz Freedom Center sponsors. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes David Horowitz as ‘a driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-black movements.’” Not to be outdone, Rep. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) submitted HB2015 which covers the same territory.

Now, we have “a self-proclaimed ‘tax activist’ who wants to excuse anyone 65 or older from paying property tax. Her name is Lynne Weaver and she is working with a former state GOP chairman to permanently ban property taxes on AZ home owners 65 and older.

What a ridiculous idea! As a Capitol Media Services article points out, if the initiative passes, homeowners under 65 would be left to make up the property tax burden the elderly were relieved of. This tax money after all, funds public education, emergency services and other community programs. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t rely on property taxes to fund these programs because it inevitably results in winners and losers. But the funding for these essential services has to come from somewhere and for now, that’s property taxes. Continue reading