Category Archives: Taxes

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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A Spirit of Bipartisanship, Inclusiveness, and Community at Arizona’s Inauguration Ceremonies

Kathy Hoffman being sworn in as Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction. Photo courtesy of Thomas Tingle of the Arizona Republic.

The spirit of bipartisanship, inclusiveness, and community filled the atmosphere and themes in the comments conveyed by the speakers at today’s inauguration ceremonies for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, State Superintendent of Public instruction Kathy Hoffman, and Mining Inspector Joe Hart.

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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

The Arizona Center for Economic Progress offers Progressive Ideas and Solutions to Meet the Needs of the State

In January 2016, the progressive oriented Arizona Center for Economic Progress formed under the umbrella of the Children’s Action Alliance. Located in central Phoenix, this organization, with ties to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Ford, Anne E. Casey and Arizona Foundations, has already impacted the public policy arena with Democrats (and some Republicans) like Senate Minority Leader Steve Farley and other Legislative District Candidates drawing on the progressive ideas and solutions championed by the Center’s 15 member staff.

The founding and current Director of the Arizona Center for Economic Progress is attorney, child advocate, educator (he was a founding principal for ASU Preparatory Academy), former State House Democratic Leader and State Senator David Lujan. On December 18, Mr. Lujan sat down with Blog for Arizona to discuss the purpose of the Center, its accomplishments and impact, and what projects it would like to pursue over the next two years.

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