Il Duce decrees ‘no new taxes’ for education, after gutting education funding


I have previously made the case that Gov. Ducey has a pattern and practice of abuse of authority.

imussol001p1Il Duce‘s penchant for acting like a dictator was evident again at a meeting of business leaders on Friday. Howard Fischer reports, Ducey says, no way, no how to education tax:

Gov. Doug Ducey said Friday that he will oppose any effort to hike taxes to boost education funding, even one where voters would make the decision.

“I have said that we are not going to raise taxes,” the governor said.

I am Il Duce! I am “the decider.” The people shall not defy my decrees!

His absolute stance comes as some business leaders are exploring whether there need to be more state dollars to improve public education.

Arizona consistently ranks at or near the bottom in per-pupil spending. But it takes a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate — along with a gubernatorial signature — to hike taxes.

That leaves the option of a public vote.

I am Il Duce! The people no longer have any rights to initiative, referendum and recall, or representative government. I am “the decider.”

A report by legislative budget analysts shows total state funding in public schools at $4.54 billion. That equals $4,216 per student; by contrast, the state was spending close to $5,000 per student in 2008.

But even that does not paint a complete picture. The report says that when inflation is taken into account, the state now actually is spending 25 percent less for each student.

“The question one has to ask is, has this reduction in the amount of money we’re collecting in taxes yielded the kind of economic growth we expected it to yield, or will it in the future?” said Ron Shoopman, president and chief executive of Southern Arizona Leadership Council. “And if not, are we actually cutting into the fabric of the state that makes us a more attractive place to attract business?”

While more funding for education could mean higher taxes, Shoopman said, “I believe the voters, as they have done in the past, would consider it. But it depends on what ‘it’ is.”

* * *

Ducey, however, isn’t interested [in taxes for education], making it clear in a closed-door meeting earlier this month with business leaders that, if they go ahead, they should presume he will be working to kill their plan, just as he did in 2012. Ducey, the state treasurer at the time, spearheaded opposition to making that temporary tax hike permanent.

That opposition could kill any initiative in the cradle.

Dick Foreman, president and chief executive of the Arizona Business and Education Coalition, pointed out the two measures voters approved had something important in common. They had support of Republican governors: Jane Hull in 2000 and Jan Brewer in 2010.

* * *

Foreman said his organization is interested in looking at funding issues, and would like to see any proposal for higher taxes. But he said that, absent Ducey support, it may make no sense to even try to craft an initiative.

lastgreatactofdefianceOnly if the feckless, weak and cowardly business community continues to roll over and to support right-wing Republicans like Il Duce and his ilk, and refuses to step up to do what is necessary and just for Arizona’s kids.

Show some defiance to Il Duce. Where is your courageous leadership? Where are these “mythical moderate Republicans” Arizona’s political media keep telling us exist? Or are you all just greedy bastards who want to secure a special interest tax break for your business, and to hell with everything else?

Also on Friday, Il Duce said:

The $1 billion deficit meant he could put no more new money into public education than he did for the coming school year.

“My first priority was to balance the state’s budget,” he said.

“We made the tough decisions,” the governor continued. “I realize many of them were unpopular.”

Now, Ducey said, the state is now on “stable financial footing.”

“We must put more resources into this system,” he said.

All of this is a lie because of the Cave Creek Unified School District, et al. v. Ducey inflation adjustment to school funding case currently in the court wherein Judge Cooper has ordered the state legislature to pay $315 million in the current fiscal year, which our lawless Tea-Publican legislature and governor refused to do and instead filed an appeal, and the back payments portion of this case which could exceed $1 billion, now back in the hands of Judge Cooper and a decision is expected any day.

What Il Duce is really saying is that he will not raise taxes to meet the obligations and debts of the state of Arizona, in defiance of the court’s lawful orders, and of the Arizona Constitution. I am Il Duce! I am the law!

Laurie Roberts of The Republic adds, Ducey sends warning to CEOs pondering a school tax:

Gov. Doug Ducey has a message for the state’s business leaders should they dare to exercise their constitutional right to try to cross him and boost funding for public education.

I’m paraphrasing here, but his warning went something like this: oppose me at your peril.

* * *

Ducey was speaking last week to the joint leadership of three of the state’s most prominent business groups: Greater Phoenix Leadership, the Flagstaff Forty and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.

The groups, I’m told, are considering an initiative in 2016, asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax to boost funding for public education.

These are people who understand that a well-educated workforce is key to boosting Arizona’s economy, people who see current lack of commitment to public education as a drag on Arizona’s image and its future prosperity.

Ducey, meanwhile, led the drive in 2012 to kill Proposition 204, aimed at establishing a permanent sales tax for public education and has made it clear that he has no interest in boosting state funding for public education.

Fast forward to last week, when Ducey was speaking to the state’s business leaders. Several who attended the luncheon, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told me they were taken aback when Ducey warned them not to do an end run around him by putting an initiative on the ballot, though he didn’t specify any particular sort of initiative.

“What I basically heard was ‘Don’t be thinking of putting any initiative up for consideration if it goes against the wishes or the desires of the Legislature and leadership because if you do, it’ll be strongly opposed by the state,” one attendee told me.

“The point was don’t even think about it,” said another, paraphrasing Ducey. “If anybody attempts to do an end run around my budget for their special interests, I will fight that rigorously.”

* * *

So now comes Ducey, warning Arizona’s business leaders not to defy him by exercising their constitutional right to run an initiative.

“I was sort of taking aback by it,” one person told me. “It seemed to be a warning not to do anything that the leadership didn’t like and not seeming to recognize that in Arizona we’ve always assumed, and correctly so, that the initiative and referendum process is part of government.”

Indeed, the right to make laws via voter initiative is right there in the Arizona Constitution.

You know, the constitution that says a college education “shall be as nearly free as possible.” This, in a state that has made the deepest cuts in state funding for higher education and the steepest tuition hikes in the nation since 2008, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The constitution that says, “The Legislature shall make such appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions, and shall make such special appropriations as shall provide for their development and improvement.” This, in a state where our leaders are fighting a judge’s ruling that they’ve must fully fund Arizona’s public schools.

So what are you going to do, business community? Are you going to cower and do nothing in the face of threats from Il Duce and his dark money black shirts? Or are you going to stand up and fight for what is right for Arizona’s kids?

This is now a referendum on the leadership of the business community. Leadership or cowardice is up to you.


  1. Business is always cowardly. Even when they do fund an initiative to provide tax money for education it is the Wrong kind of tax, a sales tax that puts the greatest burden on those that can afford it least. I say we should, by voter initiative, put the screws to the wealthy, increase the income tax and send it into a dedicated fund ONLY for education, that the legislatureand the governor can’t touch!

    • Given the fungibility of money, they would then take general funding scheduled for education and move it to other budget items. It is hard to beat a Legislature at it’s own game.

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