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)
Besides the flat tax, practically every tax giveaway that’s been defeated in the last five years is stuck into the Republican budget.
What’s that? You didn’t want more tax giveaways?
You wanted the state to Invest in Education and to pay teacher’s a fair wage? Forget about it. Arizona Republicans pride themselves in syphoning off public education funds and giving them to for-profit diploma mills, private schools and religious schools.
You thought it would be a good idea to restore the full $40 million in funding to the Housing Trust Fund to tackle the housing affordability and eviction problems in Arizona? Nope. Republicans are doing tax breaks for developers instead.
What about tackling Adverse Childhood Experiences, like food, housing and financial insecurity? No, Republicans like being worst in the nation for child wellbeing.
Continue reading #AZGOP Budget: $0 for Housing Trust Fund, Teacher Pay or Maternal & Child Health (video)
For years, Arizona￼ has been one of the worst states in the country for affordable housing.
A recent research survey, published in March 2021, ranked Tucson #1 in the world for worst change in property affordability, with Phoenix coming in #7. The survey by Online Mortgage Advisors reported on housing affordability in 200 US cities over the past five years. It shows that “house prices have quickly become unaffordable for workers making average wages for their specific city,” according to a report by KOLD TV.
In the five years that I have been in the Legislature, affordable housing has been a hot topic which generated a lot of talk and a fair number of Democratic bills but not much Legislation that made it to the finish line. (Heaven forbid that any meaningful Democratic legislation would be signed into law — regardless of how much it would help the people of Arizona.) Unfortunately, little has been done to raise stingy benefits for the poor and the unemployed OR to tackle homelessness, housing affordability, or evictions. One positive step by the Legislature was restoration of partial funding to the Housing Trust Fund. (Also worth noting: thank goodness the voters raised the minimum wage in 2016, or Arizona residents’ income to housing ratio cost would be even worse.)
In the five years the Legislature has been talking about housing, affordability has gotten significantly worse in the state’s two major cities.￼ The video below discusses two bad bills from the past that have contributed to Phoenix and Tucson becoming less affordable. These bills should be repealed.￼ It also includes four current housing-related bills in the Legislature.
Continue reading Arizona Needs a Comprehensive Approach to Affordable Housing (video)
We have not had a lot of action in the Legislature this week, as Republican plot behind closed doors. We had a few proclamations and a few votes today, including the final vote on HB2889, the mandatory sentencing bill for multiple levels of child abuse. This passed the House a few weeks ago, but was amended in the Senate. It is a bit less harsh than the original bill but still mandatory sentencing related to an issue that Arizona has been ignoring for a long time.
Rep. Walt Blackman had a proclamation about Child Abuse Prevention Month and called upon members to “keep in mind the next generation and keep them safe.” I think that’s a great idea. In fact, I have been talking about building a stronger Arizona for a future generations for the last five years. It would be helpful if Blackman would join me in legislation to tackle poverty and Adverse Childhood Experiences if he wants to protect future generations and help them thrive. In his criminal justice committee, Blackman has been passing progressive legislation to tackle Arizona’s overcrowded prison population and discriminatory practices, but today he walked backwards and voted with everybody else to increase mandatory sentencing.￼
Arizona is WORST in the nation for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), such as food insecurity, housing insecurity, sexual violence, physical neglect, emotional neglect, domestic violence, addiction, mental illness, or loss of a parent.
Continue reading Putting More People in Prison Won’t Help Child Abuse Victims (video)
What does “defund the police” mean to you?
Following the tragic and unnecessary deaths of George Floyd, Dion Johnson, Rayshard Brooks, Carlos Ingram Lopez and others at the hands of law enforcement officers, there have been calls to “defund the police.”
Often the same people who say “defund the police” also add “that doesn’t mean take away all of the funding.” When I ask what it does mean, the explanations often get mushy. Recently, I read “What Defund Police Really Means: Replacing Social Control with Investment” by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
In this Guardian article, Reich talks about increased spending in social investment beginning in the mid 1960s through President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Beginning in 1964, the War on Poverty efforts rolled out Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, Food Stamps, cash assistance to the poor, equal opportunity programs, the voting rights act and more. By the early 1970s, these programs were working to reduce poverty, particularly among African Americans.
In 1971, future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell wrote the now infamous “Powell Memo,” which author and historian Bill Moyers labels a “Call to Arms for Corporations, “ excerpted …
Continue reading Defund the Police? Balancing ‘Social Control’ & ‘Social Investment’ (video)
How many ways can Arizona flub its COVID19 response simultaneously?
Not only did the Washington Post report that “Arizona has lost control of the pandemic,” Governor Doug Ducey also has been slow and intentionally minimalist in his distribution of relief to Arizonans who are suffering financial hardship.
His government has distributed only a tiny fraction of the funds available for unemployment, pandemic unemployment, and eviction relief. Only 6% of the 16,000 people who have applied for eviction relief have actually received it. Thousands of Arizonans could be evicted in July because Ducey is being tight-fisted and slow with the money, and deadlines are fast approaching. The Arizona Republic estimates that at the rate Ducey is currently distributing rental relief, it will take him a year to release paltry $5 million set aside to help renters.
Ducey temporarily delayed eviction enforcement through July 22. Congress banned evictions on property with federally backed mortgages until July 25 and funded pandemic unemployment through that date. These cutoff dates are less than a month away, and Arizona is seeing record number of cases of COVID19 every day — because Arizona and so many other red states opened up economies too quickly. Ducey is also being slow giving earmarked money to local governments and tribes. What is the point of forcing suffering on the people of Arizona?
Continue reading How Many Ways Can Arizona Flub Its COVID19 Response Simultaneously? (video)