In our history, beginning with President George Washington and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, the US has created four National Infrastructure Banks (NIB). Under Presidents Washington, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt, National Infrastructure Banks built and upgraded infrastructure across the country from roads, damns and bridges to health clinics, schools and the national parks; provided productive work and good pay for thousands if not millions of Americans; increased production and manufacturing capacity nationwide; and created economic vitality.
The Arizona Legislature surpassed Day 150 this week. You’ll remember that the target length for a session is 100 days. That shipped sailed in mid April.
Season 2 Episode 8 of A View from the Left Side is a compilation of Legislative Updates recorded between April 18, 2022 and May 31, 2022.
Three of these updates focus on the stalled budget process. The House Republican Caucus is fractured and there is no collaboration between the House and Senate leadership teams.
There are rumors of another Republican budget but no bills have been dropped, and recent leaded spreadsheet likely doesn’t have the votes to pass.
Libertarians don’t want to spend money on anything — despite great need in the state and a $5 billion surplus.
Democrats aren’t likely to support a budget that doesn’t include a significant investment in public education. Prop 208, which the Republicans took down in court, would have provided $900 million in revenue for public education by assessing a fee on excessive income over $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for couples.
It is a sad state of affairs when our government’s most important decisions — how to wisely invest $5 billion and how to maintain our water supply into the future — are made behind closed doors by a tiny group of (primarily) white men.
The Libertarian and Corporate wings of the Arizona Republican Caucus in the Legislature have been battling each other over the budget, since the skinny austerity budget failed in April on a bipartisan vote.
While Republicans twist each other’s arms over the budget, water, and tax giveaways, floor action focuses on culture wars, 2020 election conspiracy theories, voter suppression and guns. Since April, the Legislature has had sketchy schedules with a handful of votes and many days of adjournment. (Don’t get me wrong the extra days working from home in Tucson are greatly appreciated.)
In 2021, Republican disarray over the budget dragged out the session until June 30 — the very last day to pass a budget. If the Republicans are going to make backroom deals until they get 100% of their members to agree on the budget, I prefer 2022’s the somewhat random scheduling to 2021’s 28 days of “Pledge and Pray” with no votes. (That was a real waste of time and money!) Although many Legislators (Ds and Rs) stated publicly that they didn’t want a repeat of 2021, that is where we are headed.
For more than a month, the Legislature hasn’t done much except pass a few bills and take random days off. The current glacial pace is the result of multiple feuds within the Republican Caucus of the Arizona Legislature.
The budget appears to be going no where. For weeks, the Republican leadership has been stuck between a rock (pleasing their Libertarian wing) and a hard place (negotiating with the Democrats). The Republican austerity budget died on a bipartisan vote in the House Appropriations Committee in late April. (Check out my late April blog post and video on that subject.)
Libertarians don’t want to spend money on anything — even to save lives. This is unrealistic and cruel when our state has $5 billion in the coffers and chronic poverty. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership wants to continue their tradition of not negotiating with the Democrats on the budget. Our ideas are not extreme; we have common sense spending proposals (like funding public education, basic healthcare, affordable housing, and infrastructure).
According to Arizona’s financial advisory committee, the state has more than $1.3 billion in ongoing funds and $3.6 billion in one-time funds to work with as we begin the budget process. We have $5 billion.
Why are Republicans proposing an austerity budget in times of plenty? Their pet projects — like the Flat Tax, Koch Brothers Freedom Schools, results-based funding and fake pregnancy clinics — are included in this first pass at the budget.
What’s not in this budget? Funding for K-12 education (since the Republicans killed Prop 208 in the courts), maternal and child health, Housing Trust Fund, help for the homeless, eviction relief, major infrastructure projects, expansion of cash assistance to the poor (TANF), programs to address chronic poverty, etc.
When there is so much need, why aren’t we investing in the future? (This video was recorded on April 19, 2022. Read the April 26 update and see the video below.)
Long-term drought, extreme heat, intense fires and unpredictable weather — obviously, Arizona is feeling the effects of climate change now.
Governor Doug Ducey and Republican Legislators continue to pursue the capitalist path of unbridled and unchecked growth as the road to prosperity, with no concern regarding the environmental impact or the long-term sustainability of their ideas.
In her speech to the UN climate conference in 2019, teen climate activist Greta Thunberg called the corporate push for more consumerism … more growth … more building “fairytale” and warned world leaders that the youth of planet Earth expect action. In 2021, Thunberg called the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow “more blah, blah, blah” and scolded leaders for making little progress.
Climate change is a ticking time bomb. The human race has roughly this decade to make major changes in order stop the worst effects of climate change.
For the commentary this week, you’ll hear Thunberg scolding world leaders for inaction on climate change on behalf of the world’s children in 2019.