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?

What’s the News on the #AZ Budget? Check Out Video & Town Hall

Many constituents have asked me where the budget is and what’s going on– after all, it is May. On the budget, the status quo of the past month still exists. All of the budget action continues to be behind closed doors, among a closed group of Republicans.

In addition to the Democrats, there are a significant number of House Republicans who are not part of the budget process, and they’re grumbling about it. This is a state budget– not the budget for a small town church. The deacons and the pastor don’t get to decide the budget on their own in the back room. The budget should be negotiated with all parties at the table– not just a handful of those close to power. Democrats make up 48 percent of the Arizona House. When more than 50 percent of the Legislature is kept in the dark and has to rely on rumors, that is not a fair process, and it ultimately hurts the people of Arizona.

Except for the Governor’s budget, which has been public for months, and some leaked details about the Senate Republican budget, little is known about the budget, beyond a few trial balloons. What we do know is that the Senate Republican budget is far more conservative and not even close to Governor Doug Ducey’s budget.

This chasm in the GOP has left an opening for Democrats. The House Democrats will unveil our balanced budget ideas on Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m.  We have been saying since January that we agreed with parts of the governor’s budget– like full tax conformity and more money for P-20 education. [Stay tuned for details.]

On the right, Senator J.D. Mesnard and other tax cut fans still want to zero-out the money the state could bring in from tax conformity (~$150 million) and Wayfair (~$85 million). There are multiple trial balloons about making the income tax rates flatter. One proposal is to have only two personal income tax brackets. This is a horrible idea– unless, of course, your goal is to return to austerity and Draconian budget cuts, while making your rich donors happy. Under the Republican proposals to eliminate or lower tax brackets, rich people would pay less, and the rest of us could pay more. (Think of the Republican tax bracket plan as Arizona’s mini-Me to the Trump Tax Cut and Jobs Act. Both significantly lower taxes for the wealthy by reducing the top tax rate.)

Continue reading What’s the News on the #AZ Budget? Check Out Video & Town Hall

#AZHouse Republicans Censor Dems to Block Speech on #ERA, Women’s Rights (video)

Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in Arizona was in the news and in the streets this week. ERA supporters launched an ambitious 38 Mile March for the ERA through the streets of Phoenix– starting at the Capitol on Monday, March 11 and ending there on Wednesday.

After the speeches, supporters filled the gallery of the Arizona Senate, and a contingent of 30 or so supporters went to the Arizona House. In the Senate, there was a motion to suspend the rules and vote on the ERA. In the House, Democrats attempted to introduce the ERA supporters in the gallery and were shut down when the Republicans decided to police the content on our speech– in addition to strictly limiting our time to one minute.

The news stories covered the Senate action because that was the official vote. They didn’t cover the censorship fiasco in the Arizona House.

I gave one of the first ERA introductions and was allowed speak. Later introductions were cut off by the Republicans.

Patriarchy and suppression of speech were on full display. You can watch the whole scene here on the official video. Points of Personal Privilege start at around 2 minutes. Note the lengthy introductions that are allowed for people who are representing other groups– not the ERA.

Rep. Athena Salman starts the ERA introductions at about 10:28 minute mark. She and I both got through our introductions without interruption. Things heat up when Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez (at the 13:16 minute mark) tries to introduce an ERA marcher from Rep. Warren Petersen’s district and is gaveled down and scolded by Speaker Pro Tempore T.J. Shope. At 15:43, Shope shuts down Rep. Raquel Teran and tells the gallery to be quiet. At 17:08, Rep. Randy Friese is not shut down. At 18:14 Rep. Mitzi Epstein is shut down and protests Shope’s censorship of her speech.  At 20:25, Rep. Isela Blanc is allowed to introduce her student shadow, but when she starts the ERA introduction, she doesn’t get more than a few words into her introduction before Shope stops her. At 21:17, Salman reads the rule book and calls out the Republicans for censoring our speech. The gallery and the Democrats burst into applause and get the gavel. The rules limit the amount of time we can speak to one minute but not the content.

The scene devolved after Shope ruled Salman out of order. Friese protested the ruling of the chair and called for a roll call vote (23:05). This resulted in multiple speeches about the ERA and freedom of speech– and multiple women being called out of order for speaking truth to power. I watched the whole fiasco on video, and it is shocking how many women were disrespected– House members and women in the gallery.

Continue reading #AZHouse Republicans Censor Dems to Block Speech on #ERA, Women’s Rights (video)

Healthcare & Equality: Two Big Events on Nov 1 (video)

ERA

When your state and your Congressional district are being targeted by both major political parties and several special interest groups, the days leading up to Election Day are fast-paced as national groups and speakers come to Arizona.

Nov. 1 is a big day for political events.

Tucsonans Talk Back to McSally & Trump Jr.

As Donald Trump Jr. stumps for Congresswoman Martha McSally in Maricopa County, Tucsonans will be protesting in front of her office on Broadway Blvd. Organized by Arizona Healthcare Voters, the purpose of the rally is to call out McSally’s lies about her votes on the Affordable Care Act and on healthcare in general. Media advisory here.

As the ranking member of the Arizona House Health Committee, I am happy to be participating in this event hosted by Arizona Healthcare Voters.

The US has the most expensive and least effective healthcare insurance system when compared to other developed countries. McSally and the Republican Party want to make our already overly complicated and expensive system even more restricted and more expensive. That is going in the wrong direction.

Come on down and tell McSally what you think of her record on healthcare, health insurance, the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, and more.

The organizers’ Facebook event is here.
https://www.facebook.com/events/429229150943449/

Equal Means Equal presents: The Equality Tour 2018

To gear up for Nov. 6 and for the 54th Session of the Arizona Legislature, the Equal Means Equal Equality Tour is stopping in Tucson on Nov. 1 and in Tempe in Nov. 3.

The directors of the movie “Equal Means Equal,” Kamala Lopez and Natalie White, will be in town for the event.

Come on down for a full evening of entertainment– dotted with a few speeches. I will be one of the speakers, along with LD9 Senate candidate Victoria Steele.

Continue reading Healthcare & Equality: Two Big Events on Nov 1 (video)

LD9 Debate Reveals Stark Contrasts between Democrat & Republican Candidates (video)

Ana Henderson and Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

Can’t decide how to vote in the November 6 election? If you live in Legislative District 9, check out the LD9 debate before casting your vote.

The debate video below reveals clear differences between the candidates on key issues such as the minimum wage, food security, the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), climate change, abortion, gun violence, and more. (Check out the Tucson Weekly story here.)

Five people are running for the three LD9 Legislative seats: incumbent Democrats Reps. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley (me), Republican challenger Ana Henderson, and Senate candidates former Democratic representative Victoria Steele and Republican write-in candidate Randy Fleenor.

The Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) conducts candidate debates, videotapes them, and stores them on their website and YouTube channel. If you live in a district other than LD9, check out the CCEC archive for the other 2018 debate videos. For Southern Arizona Legislative Districts, here are links to debates for LD2, LD3, LD10, LD11, LD8, and LD14.  (LD9 video embedded below.)

Continue reading LD9 Debate Reveals Stark Contrasts between Democrat & Republican Candidates (video)

LD9 Clean Elections Debate: Oct. 16 (video)

Legislative District 9 Democrats: incumbent Reps. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley with Senate candidate and former House Rep. Victoria Steele.

The three Democrats and two Republicans running for seats in Legislative District 9 will participate in a Clean Elections Debate on Tuesday, October 16, beginning at 6 p.m. at Pima College Northwest.

Running for the Arizona House are incumbent Reps. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley and Republican challenger Ana Henderson, who lost to the two Democrats in 2016. On the Senate side, Democrat and former House Rep. Victoria Steele and political newcomer Republican Randy Fleenor are vying for the seat vacated by Senator Steve Farley.

Come with your questions. Since this debate is being run by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC), at least half of the questions come from the audience.

Also, the CCEC will videotape the debate and make it available on their YouTube site if you can’t come. Links to other debates and to upcoming debate dates are here:
https://www.azcleanelections.gov/debates

Check out the 2016 LD9 debate between Friese, Powers Hannley and Henderson, below. Also, in this blog post, I annotated the topics in the debate: #LD9 Voters–Can’t Decide How to Vote? Watch the Debate (video).

 

#StopThief Fair Tax Forum: It’s Time to Review Corp Tax Giveaways (video)

Fair Tax Forum

#RedForEd lifted the veil from our eyes and put the issue of corporate tax giveaways front and center in the fight to restore public education funding in Arizona.

As many of you are aware, the Arizona Legislature is giving away more than $13 billion in taxes every year and using only $10 billion to run the state. It is not sound fiscal policy to use accounting gimmicks and 50 fund transfers to “balance” the budget. It is no surprise that the state owes K-12 education around $1 billion. Thanks to scheduled corporate tax cuts passed by the Tea Party*, beginning in 2011, Arizona’s corporations got to keep an extra $1 billion in 2017. These corporate tax cuts continue through 2019, even though we can’t afford them.

As a result of the anger and frustration that many Tucsonans feel about the Arizona Legislature’s performance, the Stop Thief! Let’s Restore Fair Taxes Community Forum drew a standing room only crowd of diverse participants. The event was hosted by the Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF) and Progressive Democrats of America (PDA Tucson), with support from many other unions and community groups.

Tax giveaway banner
The star of the tax forum was the 20-ft banner listing 195 of Arizona’s 334 tax giveaways. Arizona is giving away $13+ billion is taxes each year and using only $10 billion to run the state. It is not sound fiscal policy when you use accounting gimmicks and 50 fund transfers to “balance” the budget.

Heart-felt testimonies from current high school students, who explained how school budget cuts have impacted their lives and their schools, opened the forum.

LD9 Rep. Randy Friese gave a detailed presentation on tax revenue and how it has been siphoned off by special interest groups and corporate tax cuts for decades. (Video after the jump.)

My talk focused on specific tax giveaway votes in the 53rd Legislature. focused specific tax giveaway bills and the drama that swirled around the bills that passed and the ones that failed. (Video after the jump.) Excluding any votes related to budget appropriations, all of the tax giveaway votes in the 53rd Legislature were bipartisan— with Democrats and Republicans on both sides.

The Legislature’s mindset on tax giveaways shifted from January 2017– when two Progressive Democrats made a pact to vote against every tax giveaway until the schools were fully funded– to budget night in May 2018. The Progressive viewpoint was: If the state “can’t afford” to fully fund K-12 public education (due to self-imposed austerity), then we “can’t afford” to give away or excuse any more taxes until the schools are on stable footing and fully funded. Thanks to the #RedForEd movement, on budget night 2018, hundreds of teachers, parents, and supporters filled the House gallery and the Capitol lawn and demanded that public education take priority over corporate tax cuts.

As I mentioned in my talk, a thorough tax giveaway review bill and several tax reform or repeal bills were proposed in the Legislature in 2018. Unfortunately, due to the gamesmanship at the Capitol, these bills were not heard because they were proposed by Democrats: Senator Steve Farley and Reps. Mark Cardenas, Randy Friese, and Pamela Powers Hannley.

It’s time to review all of the tax cuts, tax exemptions, tax credits, tax subtractions, and other tax loopholes. Some of these tax giveaways benefit narrow interests– to the detriment of the general fund and the general public. We must determine which tax exemptions benefit the people of Arizona (like the TPT exemptions for food and prescription drugs); which ones benefit special interest groups (like gold bullion enthusiasts); which ones benefit individual corporations (like the infamous four-inch pipe); which ones we are effective and affordable; and how we can spark economic development without breaking our budget and starving all of our educational institutions, as we are now.

Several people told me that they felt hopeful after my talk because so many costly tax giveaways were stopped on a bipartisan vote.  If fact, all of the tax giveaway votes were bipartisan— with Democrats and Republicans on both sides.  This is why it is important to ask every candidate in the 2018 election what their stance is on tax giveaways, the #RedForEd movement, the Invest In Ed Citizens Initiative (to secure long-term funding for K-12), and the Outlaw Dirty Money Citizens Initiative.  Will these candidates fight for the people or will they “take the money and run”?

Continue reading #StopThief Fair Tax Forum: It’s Time to Review Corp Tax Giveaways (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

Happy Birthday, SunLink! (video)

Four years ago, on a ridiculously hot July day, thousands of Tucsonans showed up to welcome the Modern Streetcar (AKA Sunlink or affectionately “the trolley”) to downtown Tucson.

Tomorrow, July 28, Tucson will celebrate the streetcar’s steamy birthday with music and air-conditioned rides.

I won’t be downtown for the birthday party because I am giving a talk on the Equal Rights Amendment on Saturday night in Tubac, but I hope you all will check out the festivities and the live music on the streetcar and along the route. Here are a few photos and a video from opening day.

Sunlink Tucson
SunLink dedication
Playground Tucson
The view from The Playground.
Sunlink Tucson
Downtowners welcome the streetcar to Congress Street.

Continue reading Happy Birthday, SunLink! (video)

This Week: Clean Elections Debate, House Parties & Canvassing

Pamela Powers Hannley

We have four events this weekend–starting with the Legislative District 9 Clean Elections Debate on July 19. Here are the details.

LD9 Clean Elections Debate, July 19

Randy Friese, Pamela Powers Hannley, Ana Henderson
The Legislative District 9 Clean Elections debate will be Thursday, July 19 at Pima College Northwest, 6-7:30 p.m. All five Democratic candidates will be participating, including the two House incumbents, Dr. Randy Friese and me. Here is a link to the full schedule of debates sponsored by the Citizens Clean Election Commission (CCEC). [The above picture was taken at the CCEC general election debate in 2016. Republican challenger Ana Henderson (far right, no pun intended) will face the two winners from the August 28 Democratic Primary in the November 6 General Election.] Please vote!

Arizona List Event for Rep. Pam Powers Hannley, Victoria Steele & Leila Counts, July 20

Leila Counts, Victoria Steele, & Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

Kim Khoury has graciously offered to open her home for a joint house party for three Arizona List-endorsed candidates: former Arizona House Rep. and current LD9 Senatorial Candidate Victoria Steele, TUSD candidate Leila Counts, and me. The Facebook link for the July 20 evening event is here. To RSVP and get the address, contact Claire Knipe (claire@arizonalist.org). [The above picture was taken at a joint canvass that Victoria, Leila and I had in June.]

Joint Canvass for LD9 Incumbents, July 21

Arizona Reps. Pam Powers Hannley and Randy Friese

The Powers For The People Team and Team Friese will be canvassing in the Northwest Region of LD9 on Saturday morning, July 21. We will meet at 8:30 a.m.and leave the staging area by 9 a.m. Please meet at Road Runner Coffee, 9665 Thornydale Rd.

We will be carrying campaign lit for both LD9 House incumbents– Dr. Randy Friese and Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley. As always, we can use walkers and drivers. Please join us! Bring your hat, water, sunscreen, good walking shoes, and your MiniVan password. Facebook event here.

My team is canvassing every Saturday morning at 8:30. Watch my Events tab on Facebook to find out where we will be next.

Legislative Meet & Greet in Northwest Tucson, July 22

Rep. Pam Powers Hannley, Nathan Davis and other volunteers.
What did the 53rd Legislature accomplish? What big issues were left on the table when we adjourned? And, more importantly, where are we headed in 2019 and beyond?

Find out the answer to these questions and more at this Northwest Tucson Meet and Greet with Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, Legislative District 9 representative in the Arizona House. The event will be hosted by Nathan Davis and Taylor Cleland at their home, from 1-3 p.m. Click on the Eventbrite link here to get free tickets and to learn the address. This is the fourth Legislative Meet and Greet that I have done this summer. Watch for more events on Facebook. [The photo above was taken at a canvass staging area in 2016. Nathan is displaying his #PowersForThePeople pink and purple.]

#PowersForThePeople Signs Available!

Rep. Pam Powers Hannley

SIGNs! You can tell it’s election time in Tucson because of the proliferation of political signs around town. You can help me empty my trunk by putting a yard sign in your yard. There is a stack of my signs at the Pima Dems Headquarters, and I will have them at all of the events listed above. Thanks for your support.

Register to Vote, July 30

July 30 is the last day to register to vote in the August 28 primary. Even if you think you are registered, you may want to check it out. Some people have been surprised to find out that their records are incorrect or incomplete. I am counting on your vote on or before the August 28 Primary and on or before the November 6 general election. There are many important primary races in 2018. Early ballots will arrive in the mail at the beginning of August.