Housing, Homelessness & Gentrification: What Is the Path Forward?

homelessness

Where do the mayoral candidates stand on affordable housing, low-income housing, and homelessness?

I think that’s a great question, and I hope to find the answers at the upcoming Mayor and Ward 1 City Council Candidate Forum on Saturday, June 22.  The event will be held at El Rio Center, from 12 noon – 2:30 p.m. and will moderated by Nancy Montoya from Arizona Public Media. According to the Blog for Arizona Calendar, the three Democrats running for Mayor and the four running for Romero’s Ward 1 seat are expected to participate.

What is the state of housing in Arizona?

Arizona’s Housing Crisis: Has the Legislature Done Its Part?

As rents and evictions increase, housing has become a huge issue across Arizona. Housing– like prison reform and charter school reform– got a lot of lip service in the Arizona Legislature in 2019. During the session, there were many opportunities to tackle the housing crisis in a meaningful way, but those bills died.

On a high note, the Legislature allocated $10 million for the Housing Trust Fund in the FY2020 budget, which begins in a few weeks. The Housing Trust Fund used to be $40 million per year until the Tea Party Reign of Terror swept the funds and left only ~$2.5 million in it. (Of course, back then, tax cuts were far more important than helping people keep roofs over their heads.)

Continue reading Housing, Homelessness & Gentrification: What Is the Path Forward?

#AZ Republican Budget Cuts Taxes by $386 Mil & Shortchanges K-12 (video)

One of the prevailing messages from the grassroots in 2018 was: no more tax giveaways until the schools are fully funded. Republicans didn’t get that message. They also didn’t get the Invest In Ed message that we — the people– think the rich could pay more in taxes to help fund education.

The Republican budget cuts income taxes, TPT and fees by $386 million and leaves education and other needs underfunded (or unfunded).

We started the year with a $1 billion surplus to invest in the People’s To-Do List: education, infrastructure, healthcare and safety and security. The Republicans have added bits of money to these areas — just enough to make it look like they’re doing something— but the need is much greater.

Republicans are ignoring multiple crises that are brewing in our state including unnecessary maternal and child death; rock bottom education funding; crumbling roads, bridges and school buildings; lack affordable and low-income housing; the shortage of teachers, doctors and nurses; too many people living in poverty; lack of access to affordable healthcare… need I go on?

Continue reading #AZ Republican Budget Cuts Taxes by $386 Mil & Shortchanges K-12 (video)

‘Democracy in Chains’ Connects Dots on Libertarian & Republican Strategies (video)

Affordable Care Act

If you often scratch your head at the bad bills that the Republicans pass in Congress and in the state legislatures and wonder what their end game is, you should read Democracy in Chains by Nancy McClean.

What you may think are random bad ideas that have somehow gotten into law are actually part of a grand scheme that has been playing out since Brown versus the Board of Education attempted to desegregate public schools in the United States.

An academic, McClean has studied the articles, books and letters of James Buchanan, the economist not the former president. Buchanan was the primary theorist of public choice theory. In the 1950s, public choice theory was used as a rationale to close all of the public schools in the state of Virginia (rather than comply with desegregation) and is being used today to support state-funded vouchers for private and religious schools. In Virginia in the 1950s, the state gave money to white parents for private school vouchers and allowed hundreds of black children to go uneducated for years. Needless to say, this was a travesty of justice.

Continue reading ‘Democracy in Chains’ Connects Dots on Libertarian & Republican Strategies (video)

Voter Suppression Is ‘Theme’ for #AZLeg in 2019 (video)

Republicans have two big problems with the 2018 election: too many of you voted, which resulted in too many of them losing.

Each year of the Arizona Legislature seems to have a theme. For 2017, the theme was big tax giveaways. For 2018, it was Red for Ed. The theme for 2019 is voter suppression. One of the Democrats suggested that the Republicans were overreacting to their losses in 2018.

The sheer volume of voter suppression bills is staggering. In the multiple ways, the Republicans are trying to make it more difficult to vote, to register someone to vote, and to submit Citizens’ Initiatives. They also want to solidify big money politics by attacking the independence of Clean Elections Commission.

There are so many awful bills that I needed a cheat sheet to do this video. Many of these are still in play, and you can use the Request to Speak system to comment. HB2724 (anti-Clean Elections) and HB2616 (adds penalties and unnecessary burden to registering people to vote) passed the Arizona House this week and will head to the Senate. (You can stop them there!)

For some of them, it’s time to start pleading with Governor Ducey for vetoes. SB1072 (even stricter voter ID laws, which would result in a poll tax for people who move often) passed both the House and the Senate. Other horrible bills from Senators Michelle Ugenti-Rita (SB1090) and Vince Leach (SB1451) are on there way to the House floor soon.

Stopping people from voting is anti-Democratic. (I am working on a blog post with more bills and details.)

Ducey & Dems Battle #AZGOP Over Conformity with Trump Tax Plan (video)

Tax Conformity

The Arizona Legislature waited until the last moment to tackle two big issues– the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) and tax conformity. We voted on both of these on January 31, 2019. The DCP, which was negotiated in advance, cleared the Legislature with 100% voting for passage. In contrast, the tax conformity vote sparked much drama and debate. Legislative Republicans dug in their heels over revenue-neutral tax conformity and insisted on a tax cut to benefit the richest Arizonans, while Governor Doug Ducey and the Democrats argued for fiscal responsibility and full tax conformity.

In the end, 100% of Republican Legislators bucked the governor’s wishes and passed a $150-200 tax cut. Ducey promptly vetoed SB1143 the next day and blasted Legislators on Twitter. Now we are at a standstill, due to infighting in the Republican Party. What side will win? Ideology or fiscal responsibility?

Here’s the rest of the story …

Continue reading Ducey & Dems Battle #AZGOP Over Conformity with Trump Tax Plan (video)

Stop Thief! Community Forum on Restoring Fair Taxes

Arizona Legislature

LD9 House incumbents– Dr. Randy Friese and I– will be the featured speakers at the Stop Thief community forum on tax giveaways on July 31 at the IBEW Hall.

As many of you are aware, Arizona is upside down on its mortgage. Thanks to years of Republican tax cuts, our state gives away more than $13 billion in taxes and spends just $10 billion to run the state. For years, the people of Arizona believed the lie that our state is broke. Now the veil has been lifted. The people realize that our state has plenty of revenue. The problem is that the majority of our Legislators vote to give the money away–rather than spend it on much-needed services– like public education.

Austerity is a lie. Arizona has the money to fund public education. The problem is: the Legislature gives our taxes away. It’s time to end crony capitalism in Arizona.

When the Arizona budget comes up short because of the tax giveaways, loopholes, and sweetheart deals, Republicans cut funds from K-12 education, the universities, the community colleges, healthcare, and environmental protections. OR they suggest raising sales tax to fill in the budget gaps caused by tax cuts for the rich and for the corporations. (Unfortunately, some Democrats go along with more tax cuts for the powerful and more sales tax for the rest of us.)

The Arizona Legislature should be funding the People’s To-Do List– education, healthcare, infrastructure, and safety and security– not the corporate wish list.

Continue reading Stop Thief! Community Forum on Restoring Fair Taxes

Guns, Water & Education: April 2018 Constituent Update from #AZLeg

#RedForEd

March was packed with events– most notably multiple Red For Ed protests at the Capitol and the March for Our Lives. There are more scheduled for April.

In the News

We have had many lively debates on the Floor of the House this year. In March and April, we debated water, tax cuts, the deregulation sandbox, marijuana, and much more. Archived video of all Floor, Caucus, and Committee meetings are online here. March was a big news month. To keep everyone up-to-date with the issues, I have been recording daily videos from my office in the Capitol and posting them on social media. There is a collection on my Facebook page here.

I added several news stories to my In the News tab on this website recently. The Capitol Times did a cover story highlighting the feisty freshman women in the Legislature: Dem House Freshmen Break Tradition, Turn Up the Volume.  Many of you have heard me talk about how the women changed the game in the Arizona House.; that story finally made the news. Paulina Pineda did a great job of capturing our spirit and our resolve.

Arizona House women
I am so proud to serve with these women: Reps. Wenona Benally, Mitze Epstein, Geraldine Peten, Athena Salman, Kelli Butler, me, Isela Blanc, and Kirsten Engel in the front. We don’t always wear red; the above two photos were taken on Red for Ed days. The House Democratic Caucus rocks. (Capitol Times photo.)

April Canvassing & Events

While the Legislature is still in session, we will be canvassing on Saturday mornings. I have scheduled canvasses for April 14 and April 21 from 9:30 – 12:30, meeting on the Beyond Bread patio. Details are on the events tab of my Facebook page. Between now and the August primary, expect weekly group canvassing opportunities. Please volunteer. I am still collecting signatures and seed money. You can sign my petition here online and donate seed money here.

Both the Nucleus Club and the Tanque Verde Democrats will be having meet-the-candidate events in April. The Nucleus Club will be having an all-candidate forum for Southern Arizona House candidates on Thursday, April 12 at the Viscount  It’s on my calendar, and I hope the incumbents can attend. We may be sitting in our chairs on the floor of the House at 5:30 p.m., but let’s hope not. The Legislature is still in session, and we have many big decisions yet to make– like the gun violence prevention legislation and the budget (which obviously includes the teacher pay discussion). Facebook event here.

The Tanque Verde Dems are hosting a wine tasting fundraiser and meet-the-candidates event on Saturday, April 14 at the Wine Collective. (You can canvass with me in the morning and relax later at the wine tasting.) The wine tasting replaces the TV Dems’ regular Saturday breakfast meeting. Facebook event here.

Photo Gallery of March Events

Gun Violence Prevention 

House Dems
Following the Parkland, Florida school shooting, student protests at the Capitol, and the masses Marches for Our Lives, Governor Doug Ducey released his NRA-approved school safety plan. Ducey’s plan doesn’t go far enough. For example, it doesn’t include universal background checks or banning bump stocks or any type of weaponry.  The House Democrats held a press conference to encourage the governor to go bold. The Dems stood in silence for 17 minutes on the Floor of the House– one minute for each Parkland victim. The Republicans recessed and left the room.  Read about the press conference here, the minutes of silence here and about the Tucson March for Our Lives here.
March for Our Lives Tucson
Thousands marched to end gun violence in Tucson March for Our Lives. I was on the state with gun violence survivors and elected officials at the rally on the UA Mall. Here, former Congressman Ron Barber and Roxanna Green, both survivors of the Tucson mass shooting at the Safeway, embrace as he addresses the crowd.

Continue reading Guns, Water & Education: April 2018 Constituent Update from #AZLeg

15,000 Join Women’s March in Tucson

Women's March, Tucson
Women's March, Tucson
Women’s March, Tucson

One day after Donald Trump became president of the United States the world saw the largest mass protest ever.

On January 21, 2017, the Women’s March on Washington drew more participants than Trump’s inauguration the day before, and “sister marches” were held in 600 locations around the world. If you are a long-time follower of my blogging, you know that I have attended and videotaped many protests, marches and rallies. This was by far the largest protest march I have seen in my 35 years in Tucson. It was impressive.

The Tucson marchers were a diverse group. Although the event was dubbed the Women’s March, everyone was invited, and everyone came. From children to seniors, all ages were represented. There was an impressive number of men who marched, and the LGBTQ, Latino,  and African American communities were also well-represented. There were people in strollers and people who use wheelchairs. For more photos, go to my Facebook page.  (Video after the jump.)

Continue reading 15,000 Join Women’s March in Tucson

Know Your Candidates before You Vote

Pamela Powers Hannley

Residents of Legislative District 9 have a clear choice for Arizona House. Two Democrats Rep. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley are running against Tea Party candidate Ana Henderson.

The Clean Elections debate revealed major differences between Henderson’s extreme Tea Party positions and the two Democrats’ views.

To simplify your voting decision, I revised my ven diagram (below) comparing where I stand on the issues and where Henderson stands.

Continue reading Know Your Candidates before You Vote

Raising Revenue Is Key to Getting Arizona’s Economy Back on Track (video)

Arizona Stuck in a Ditch

Shortly after Governor Doug Ducey took office in 2015, he infamously said that just because Arizona doesn’t have enough money doesn’t mean we need to raise revenue. In early January, he released a budget that failed to pay back the millions of dollars the Arizona Legislature stole from the education fund when it broke the law, but it did include a transfer of funds from the rainy fund, additional unaffordable tax cuts for out-of-state businesses, money for private prisons, and millions of dollars in cuts — most notably to K-12 education, the university system, and the community college system. More austerity is not the road to prosperity.

Continue reading Raising Revenue Is Key to Getting Arizona’s Economy Back on Track (video)