Forty years ago, in the fall of 1981, when I told my Dad that I was leaving Ohio and moving to Arizona, the first words out of his mouth were, “Well, you know Arizona is a ‘right to work state,’ don’t cha? That means ‘right to work for less.’”
I grew up in a union household. Dad was a Steelworker for most of his work life. During the 1960s and early 1970s, he was in the thick of the struggle for better wages, better benefits, and better working conditions for factory workers in Northern Ohio. Technically, I knew what “right to work state” meant, but at the time, I had no idea how moving to a right to work state would affect my career and my children’s future opportunities.
My last job in Columbus was as a professional photographer working for a swanky graphic and product design agency. (It was a really cool place to work, and over the last 40 years, particularly when I a wage slave at the University of Arizona, I often wonder why I left!)
At my first job interview in Tucson at a much smaller advertising and graphic design agency, the owner asked about my salary history. I had more than six years of experience in design, photography, and printing production. I told him that I was making $8 per hour in Columbus (and as far as I was concerned, I was worth every penny!) He literally laughed in my face and said, “You’ll never make that kind of money here in Tucson!”
Continue reading Podcast: Fight for $15 in a Right-to-Work State (video)
In 2016, Senate Republicans stopped President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was too close to the election and that the new president should choose the new supreme court judge. Despite nationwide outcry against this, the Supreme Court functioned for months with only eight justices. After President Donald Trump took office, he nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch in January 2017, Judge Brett Kavanaugh in July 2018, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett on September 2020, just months before the 2020 election. (I guess according to Mitch McConnell rules are meant to be broken.)
The US is currently suffering the aftermath of these three conservative appointments. Multiple Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed restrictive anti-abortion bills during the past decade. Since the Supreme Court has taken a decided hard turn to the right with the Trump era appointments, states like Texas and Arizona are in the forefront with anti-choice legislation designed to challenge Roe v Wade.
Continue reading Podcast: Fighting Back Against Repressive Anti-Choice Laws in Arizona & Texas (video)
Although Democrats make up 48% of the Arizona Legislature and represent more than 50% of the state’s population, Arizona Republicans crafted the next fiscal year’s ~$13 billion budget — complete with a fiscally dangerous Flat Tax and $2 billion in tax cuts for wealthy cronies — behind closed doors with a only a handful of their members.
It’s no wonder that it is June 24, 2021, and we have no budget. They have been twisting their members’ arms and cutting deals to stuff everyone’s failed legislation into the budget to buy votes. This is no way to run a government.
It makes me wonder how much money and what special interest groups are behind the Republican plans to destroy the state’s economy, the public school system, and our mail-in voting system — while cementing power for the powerful — all in one Legislative session.
The Republican budget completely ignores the needs of the people of Arizona and the desires of the voters. Voters said they wanted the rich to pay their fair share in taxes to support public education when they voted overwhelmingly for Prop 208 Invest in Ed in 2020. They also said overwhelmingly that they did not want expansion of empowerment scholarships (ESAs AKA private school vouchers) when they voted against Prop 305 in 2018.
Continue reading Roots of Arizona Libertarianism Can Be Found in 1950s Virginia (video)
Arizona House Democrats denied quorum on June 22, stalling the Republican budget and the Flat Tax for third time.
June 22 was day 163 of the Arizona Legislature. The Legislature’s target end date is 100 days. Republicans have been twisting (breaking?) arms for two months to pass their extreme ideological budget. Every version of their budget has made it worse because they are inserting failed bills into the budget to buy votes from the bill sponsors.
Every version of this budget and all of the amendments were negotiated amongst a small group of Republicans behind closed doors. If the Republicans want to pass this budget with only Republican votes, they are going to have to have all of their members in the House to make quorum. The inconvenient truth is that some of them are out of state.
You can read these bills on request to speak and make comments on the azleg website. We are adjourned until 10 AM on Thursday, June 25.
Continue reading #AZHouse Dems Deny Quorum, Stalling Budget Temporarily (video)
The Republican budget — with the financially irresponsible Flat Tax, several other tax giveaways and miscellaneous failed bills stuffed into it to buy votes — is on the agenda today, June 22, 2021.
Here we go again. This will be the third time that the House has debated versions of the largest tax overhaul in Arizona history. Is the third time the charm? Have the few Republican holdouts like Senators Paul Boyer and Kelly Townsend and Rep. David Cook now sold out to Governor Doug Ducey, ALEC and the Chamber of Commerce?￼ Have all the votes been bought to pass this expensive collection of bad ideas? Looks like it.
If you are on Twitter, you can see that Ducey is effusive about how amazing the Flat Tax will be for economic growth in Arizona and job creation. Don’t buy the lie. This tax giveaway plan is for Arizona’s 1%. They don’t want to pay the 3.5% Invest in Ed fee to support public education; Ducey and the Arizona Republican Party vowed to fix that inconvenient voter-initiated problem for the greedy. Approximately 30,000 Arizonans will benefit from the tax breaks and special interest pork in this budget.
Those 30,000 people will make bank on the Flat Tax. Governmental giveaways from the Republican Party will enable them to buy a new boat or an extra car every year thanks to their tax savings in this budget. The other 7.2 million Arizonans will be able to buy an extra car wash or a couple movie tickets per year with our tax break.
Continue reading #AZ Republicans Propose Irresponsible Flat Tax Budget for 3rd Time (video)
The Grand Canyon Institute is a “centrist think tank” that provides a great service to our state by analyzing economic issues and producing independent reports. (You can read many of these reports at this link on their website.)
Below is June 8, 2021 press release from the Grand Canyon Institute. It incudes key findings from an research paper about educational funding and attainment and related declines in state revenue and productivity. You’ll note that decline in educational attainment among Arizona residents tracks with the state’s decline in school funding and the decline in state revenue. In 1970, Arizona had 18% more college graduates than the national average; by 2018, we had 9% fewer college graduates than the national average. When I moved to Arizona in 1981, I remember reading a quote in the newspaper from then Governor Bruce Babbit. He said the state’s economy was poised for greatness because Arizona had so many college graduates. Well, decades of budget cuts took care of that!
If you scroll all the way down at the bottom of the ASU graphic you’ll find the “money quote” in tiny type: “It is highly likely that the state’s relative declines in educational attainment contribute to declines in productivity and prosperity and have increased Arizonans enrollment in public assistance programs.”
The graphic also notes that if Arizona had not continued to cut taxes each year — thus maintaining the tax base — “the state general fund would have taken in 44% more in revenue.”
As I have said many times: the state of Arizona creates its own problems with short-sighted decisions that are rooted in ideology … not in data, science, or compassion for the people.
Continue reading Grand Canyon Inst – AZ Budget Priorities: Tax Cuts v. Productivity & Prosperity