#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)

RTS Alert HB2391 & HB2255: Transparency in Government. Yes! (video)

World View Enterprises
Let’s talk government transparency.
Lucky for me my committees, so far, have not been totally nuts with radical right wing bills like some of the other committees this year. Yes, we have heard some tax giveaways in both Commerce and Ways and Means but not the extreme ideological social engineering and voter suppression bills that are in other committees.
The Feb.3 Ways and Means Committee agenda included only one bill HB2391, sponsored by Rep. Steve Kaiser, one of the freshmen Republicans. This is a property tax and county government transparency bill from ATRA (Arizona Tax Research Association). Sean McCarthy from ATRA said that all of the counties report their property taxes in different ways. (Not surprising.) HB2391 says that the Department of Revenue (DOR) should design a “worksheet” for the counties to use worksheet and make the data available. I don’t think this goes far enough. I know many Tucsonans who are digging through PDFs and memos on governmental websites to try to determine how their taxes are being spent.
I agree with the push for governmental transparency and standardization in reporting, but I would take this a couple step further. I think these worksheets should be available on the county websites and on the DOR website in an easy-to-find location, and the data should be downloadable in Excel. This allows people — including data nerds, economists, grad students, and interested citizens — to look at the data and analyze it themselves. This is true transparency and accountability, in my opinion.
Many governmental websites are data rich and information poor. There are many numbers but very little context or explanation. For example, my bill HB 2255 is a transparency and accountability bill regarding the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA). I have done a lot of digging around in PDFs on the ACA website to determine the effectiveness of the business incentives that the ACA has been doling out.
When I had my communication and public relations business, writing and designing annual reports was my niche. In fact, most of the little plexiglass statues in my office at the capital are awards that I won for annual reports or other corporate communication documents or programs.
With this background, I am particularly critical of the ACA annual reports that are on their website. First of all, I had to search for “annual report” in order to even find the annual reports. There are lots of cute number graphics, but eventually I found a large PDF which was the actual annual report. Buried in the middle was the number of jobs that are created by the different incentive packages. There was a list of businesses that received big incentive packages (including Caterpillar and Worldview in Tucson) but no indication where these businesses are located. Are most of the business incentives spent in Maricopa County? Probably but it’s hard to tell. What is the long view of these incentives? How many of these businesses are still in business? Many of these businesses got their money years ago, but only one figure is given for job creation. Is that the current number of jobs? Is that the total number of jobs that were created over X number of years? Again you can’t tell from the annual report. Often in a corporate annual report there is historic data like a five-year review or a 10-year review to show growth or change over time. The 10 year review often includes analysis and a continued story from previous annual reports. I never found anything like that on the ACA website.

 

I want transparency in the corporate tax giveaways, how about you?

I am all for more governmental transparency. I think the Arizona Commerce Authority should be included in this push for more transparency and more accountability to the taxpayers of Arizona. If you are on RTS, please give both HB2391 and HB2255 a thumbs up.

[Photo: I took the above photo at a 2017 Chamber of Commerce event at the World View Enterprises headquarters. World View is one of the businesses that received money from the Arizona Commerce Authority and got a new building from Pima County. How much taxpayer money did World View get, and how many jobs did that incentive actually bring to Pima County? This is one of my many questions.]

 

 

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)

Priorities for a New Day in Arizona (video)

Rep. Pam Powers Hannley

In January 2021, when the Arizona Legislature goes back into session, we will be faced with major decisions in the wake of the COVID19 pandemic.

If Democrats take control of one or both chambers in the Legislature, it will be a New Day in Arizona, after 50 years of Republican control. 

My goals for the future are to improve the public health and financial state of Arizona, as we rebuild from COVID19 or learn to live with it.

The post-COVID19 world will be different from “the before times” and hopefully better. In my opinion, the past will never return exactly as it was, and we have to plan for that. Travel, tourism, consumerism, healthcare, entertainment, K-12 schools, higher education, work life, prisons … many changes will come in these areas and others, whether we want substantive change or not.

Our job is to create the world we want. Here are some of my priorities for 2021 and beyond.

Continue reading Priorities for a New Day in Arizona (video)

Forum on 5G on Sept 30: Health, Privacy, Preemption & Blight (video)

4g-5g towers

Wi-fi towers abound in the urban areas of Arizona, but with the advent of 5G and the “Internet of things,” expect thousands more.

Access to the Internet is a crucial part of modern life. During the COVID19 pandemic, many of us began living, working, partying, and going to school online. The Internet is an essential service, in my opinion.

With the advent of 5G technology, the “Internet of things” and “Smart Cities”, we are being promised faster connections and more connections. We can already connect our smart phones to security systems, home monitoring, and voice command devices. With 5G, the Internet of Things will explode beyond your current devices to include everyday appliances like refrigerators and services like electric usage that can be monitored not only by the user but also by Corporate America … and potentially the government. If you are concerned about your personal privacy and the privacy of your personal data, the Internet of Things may be a bit too connected for you.

Continue reading Forum on 5G on Sept 30: Health, Privacy, Preemption & Blight (video)