#AZLeg Should Focus on Food & Housing Security, Not Gambling & Tax Breaks (video)

Robert Reich

Many Arizonans lived with food, housing and financial insecurity before the pandemic hit.

The state of Arizona is doing fine financially — thanks to sales tax revenue (collected primarily from online sales) and pandemic relief from the federal government– but the Legislature is doing little to help those in need. People at the top and people in the middle, who still have their pre-pandemic jobs, are doing OK. The people at the bottom who had low wage jobs or multiple gig economy jobs before the pandemic are the ones who are really suffering during the pandemic. Some of those prolific pre-pandemic gig jobs like rideshare drivers, hotel staff and restaurant workers have almost disappeared. Many of those jobs won’t return because of changes to our lifestyles.

Although Arizona’s economic forecasters warned of the increasing wealth gap in Arizona, these people are being ignored by the Arizona Legislature. The Republican leadership is focusing on tax cuts for the rich people and corporations — rather than focusing in COVID relief or providing food, housing and financially security to struggling Arizona families. What are they offering to the poor to lift themselves out of poverty “by their bootstraps”? Dramatically increased gambling (HB2272). What could go wrong? [Sarcasm font.]

Continue reading #AZLeg Should Focus on Food & Housing Security, Not Gambling & Tax Breaks (video)

#AZLeg Should Focus on COVID, Not Tax Breaks

Republicans thanks for the poverty

This is an RTS Alert for HB2244, 2253, and 2252 and HCR2010 …

This is the third week of the Arizona Legislature. It is also the second full week of committees. I am the ranking member on the Commerce Committee and a member of Ways and Means. (I am not on the Health Committee this session.) My updates for the next two years are going to be pretty much about money, incentives, taxes, and tax giveaways.

So far, none of the bills heard in either of my committees help the people of Arizona or local small businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic. The Legislature needs to focus on the pandemic — instead of marching in lock step to pass 100s of bad (or at least unnecessary) bills from 2020 that COVID killed.

A recent poll revealed that Arizonans’ biggest concern is *surviving the pandemic*. Arizonans’ priority is to get through the pandemic alive … with their family members. They also don’t want to be broke and homeless at the end of this. The poll also revealed that their biggest fear was that government would do nothing, and they want to make sure corporations pay their fair share. Arizona had widespread poverty, housing insecurity, food insecurity, and access to care issues long before the pandemic. I suggest my bills to fix systemic problems in Arizona would also help people weather the pandemic storm.

For example, HB2244 would fully fund the housing trust fund which has not been adequately funded for ~10 years; HB2253 would increase Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) to the full five years allowed by the federal government; HB2252 would increase Arizona’s TANF from 36% of the 1992 poverty level to 40% of the 2020 poverty level; and HCR2010 would ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (giving women equal pay for equal work). I also have multiple bills to increase the healthcare workforce and increase access to care particularly in maternal and child health.

I have attended multiple financial forecasting and review meetings in the past year. Thanks to all of that online purchasing, Arizona is raking in the sales tax. Some people at the state level are giddy with the amount of sales tax revenue we have brought in during the pandemic. They are also very excited about the generosity from the federal government. Unfortunately, the governor and others in the Republican Party are using these unexpected funds as an excuse to cut taxes. Why don’t we use these funds to build financial stability, increase access to care and help the people of Arizona stay safe and healthy during the pandemic — instead of giving our tax dollars away to corporations and Arizona’s 1%?

Please be vigilant. There are many people up here who are determined to keep the inequities of our system.

Please give HB2253, HB2252, HB2244, and HCR2010 a thumbs up on RTS. Also, give tax breaks (HB2108 and HB2113) and additional, unnecessary governmental bureaucracy and fees (HB2161) a thumbs down.

Too Many Arizonans Suffer from Food, Housing & Economic Insecurity (video)

economic insecurity

Even before COVID19, too many Arizonans were living with food, housing and economic insecurity. Under failed Republican leadership at the state and federal levels, the pandemic rages on and increases.

For the first time in 50 years, Arizona voters have the opportunity to shift the balance of power in the Arizona Legislature and hand the leadership to the Democrats.

Hmmm … 50 years of Republican control. Is that we are #50 in so many health and wellness categories — like adverse childhood experiences?

I grew up in Amherst, Ohio, a small town on the banks of Lake Erie. Although we lived modestly in a tiny house, we always food on the table and a roof over our heads.

Both of my parents worked in unionized factories, and my Dad was a member of the United Steel Workers. My family always had union benefits like full time work, decent wages, health insurance, paid sick leave, paid vacation, pensions, and affordable college for my brother and me.

Thousands of Arizona children don’t have these basic benefits that I grew up with.

Continue reading Too Many Arizonans Suffer from Food, Housing & Economic Insecurity (video)

Child Poverty Report Reveals Failure of #Republican Leadership in #AZLeg to Care for Children (video)

Rep. Pam Powers Hannley

Nationwide and statewide, far too many women and their children are living in poverty. Those of you who follow my Legislative Updates and videos know that I have been beating the drum for improved maternal and child health and for tackling Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) like food, housing, and financial insecurity. During the pre-COVID19 pandemic, Arizona was #50 — worst in the country — for Adverse Childhood Experiences.

The Children’s Action Alliance (CAA), a watchdog group that lobbies the Legislature on behalf of children, recently published their 2020 Kids Count Book with data regarding the well-being of Arizona’s children. You can read the data book here. CAA also collects survey responses from candidates and electeds who are running for the Legislature. You can read the responses here.

To read more about the data book, check out David Gordon’s story in Blog for Arizona: Child Poverty and Food Insecurity are Major Concerns as the CAA releases the 2020 Arizona Kids Count Book.

Continue reading Child Poverty Report Reveals Failure of #Republican Leadership in #AZLeg to Care for Children (video)

Defund the Police? Balancing ‘Social Control’ & ‘Social Investment’ (video)

Robert Reich

What does “defund the police” mean to you?

Following the tragic and unnecessary deaths of George Floyd, Dion Johnson, Rayshard Brooks, Carlos Ingram Lopez and others at the hands of law enforcement officers, there have been calls to “defund the police.”

Often the same people who say “defund the police” also add “that doesn’t mean take away all of the funding.” When I ask what it does mean, the explanations often get mushy. Recently, I read “What Defund Police Really Means: Replacing Social Control with Investment” by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

In this Guardian article, Reich talks about increased spending in social investment beginning in the mid 1960s through President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Beginning in 1964, the War on Poverty efforts rolled out Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, Food Stamps, cash assistance to the poor, equal opportunity programs, the voting rights act and more. By the early 1970s, these programs were working to reduce poverty, particularly among African Americans.

In 1971, future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell wrote the now infamous “Powell Memo,” which author and historian Bill Moyers labels a “Call to Arms for Corporations, “ excerpted …

Continue reading Defund the Police? Balancing ‘Social Control’ & ‘Social Investment’ (video)

How Many Ways Can Arizona Flub Its COVID19 Response Simultaneously? (video)

eviction in Arizona

How many ways can Arizona flub its COVID19 response simultaneously?

Not only did the Washington Post report that “Arizona has lost control of the pandemic,” Governor Doug Ducey also has been slow and intentionally minimalist in his distribution of relief to Arizonans who are suffering financial hardship.

His government has distributed only a tiny fraction of the funds available for unemployment, pandemic unemployment, and eviction relief. Only 6% of the 16,000 people who have applied for eviction relief have actually received it. Thousands of Arizonans could be evicted in July because Ducey is being tight-fisted and slow with the money, and deadlines are fast approaching. The Arizona Republic estimates that at the rate Ducey is currently distributing rental relief, it will take him a year to release paltry $5 million set aside to help renters.

Ducey temporarily delayed eviction enforcement through July 22. Congress banned evictions on property with federally backed mortgages until July 25 and funded pandemic unemployment through that date. These cutoff dates are less than a month away, and Arizona is seeing record number of cases of COVID19 every day — because Arizona and so many other red states opened up economies too quickly. Ducey is also being slow giving earmarked money to local governments and tribes. What is the point of forcing suffering on the people of Arizona?

Continue reading How Many Ways Can Arizona Flub Its COVID19 Response Simultaneously? (video)