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.
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.)
The Arizona Legislature has a 100 day target for the length of each session. With more than 1000 bills proposed and more than 300 signed into law each year, the Legislature rarely finishes in 100 days.
April 19, 2022 is day 100 for this year. We are lurching slowly toward a budget, with more than 100 bills waiting to be heard and a few large projects — like education funding, the proposed Water Authority, and a potential “repeal and replace” revival of the Flat Tax — hanging in limbo. As I write this note, it is Wednesday, April 13, and the Arizona House is temporarily adjourned until Monday, April 18. This is a repeat of last week, when we gaveled in for business on Monday, April 4 and promptly adjourned until Thursday.
NOBODY wants a repeat of 2021.
February 10, 2022 was African American Protocol Day in the Arizona Legislature. This is a day when leaders from the African American community statewide come to the Legislature to educate us.
I am the most independent-voting Democrat in the Arizona House and perhaps in the Arizona Legislature. How did that happen? When I first ran for office in 2015, I said I would look at every bill and ask myself, “How does this help the people of Arizona?” And if it didn’t broadly help people OR if it was a carve-out for the connected, there was no reason for me to support it.