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)

Corporate Tax Giveaways Are Key Issue in LD9 Primary (video)

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

The choice is clear in the Legislative District 9 primary race.

Do you want more old-school economic development based on corporate tax breaks and sales tax giveaways? You know… the same policies that starved our public education system, left our infrastructure in shambles, forced thousands of Arizonans to live in poverty, destroyed our state budget by giving away billions in taxes each year, and left Tucson with a 25% poverty rate. If you support giving your taxes away and banking on trickle down economics– vote for challenger in the LD9 race.

If you want a leader who will continue to be the voice of the people in the Arizona Legislature, vote to re-elect me– Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley. I have used my voice, my amendments, my votes, and parliamentary procedures to defend the rights of workers, patients, students, teachers, women, and the underserved. In 2017, Progressive Democrats vowed to vote against every corporate tax cut and tax credit bill until public education is fully funded. In 2018, that line in the sand against tax giveaways and for public education funding became the rallying cry for the most Democrats in the Legislature and for the #RedForEd movement. (You can see some of the tax giveaway votes here.) In my opinion, Arizona government should funding the People’s To-Do List– education, healthcare, safety and security, and infrastructure– instead of funding the corporate wish list.

In his recent speech at the Democrats of Greater Tucson (DGT) luncheon, J.P. Martin, who is challenging Dr. Randy Friese and me in the LD9 primary, made it clear that he is the Rio Nuevo Board’s candidate. He even showed their slides when he pitched creating more sales tax giveaway districts (AKA tax increment financing districts, like Rio Nuevo) around Southern Arizona. He says the northwest Tucson malls “need our help” because there are too many empty stores and young people need something to do on the weekend– like go shopping. (You can read about his talk in Tim Steller’s Political Notebook column here.)

I agree that brick and mortar retail is faltering due to increased online sales and a corporate push to reduce labor and overall costs. I disagree that government should incentivize retail shopping with tax dollars. Tax giveaways drain on our state coffers. Arizona is already upside down on its mortgage. The state government gives away or otherwise excuses more than $13 billion in taxes each year and leaves around $10 billion to run the state.

I support taxing digital goods as a way to level the playing field between online purchases, brick and mortar retail stores, and local small businesses. There are multiple proposals floating around to increase sales tax for a variety of reasons. Further increasing sales tax in Pima County would bring our sales tax rate in the neighborhood of 10%. Taxing local purchases but not digital purchases hurts local businesses. Besides leveling the playing field, taxing digital goods would raise hundreds of millions in much-needed revenue for public education, community colleges and the university system, as well as other crucial needs. Sales tax on digital goods is an increasing revenue stream, unlike store-based sales tax.

Retail store sales and related sales tax are declining nationwide, resulting in store closures. This one of my arguments against pinning Tucson’s economic development future on sales tax generation by brick and mortar retail stores in the downtown Rio Nuevo Tax Increment Financing District (TIF).

I want to know what the public’s total investment in every incentive deal– not just Rio Nuevo. Are taxpayers getting our money’s worth? I have heard the rosy projections and seen the slide shows. I want to see the spreadsheets. Perhaps it is my journalistic Spidy sense, but I am a “show me, don’t tell me” person when it comes to giving taxes away. The public has the right to know the bottom line about Rio Nuevo and any economic development project that uses taxpayer money.

DGT hosts a weekly luncheon with a steady cast of candidates rotating through. My last DGT talk was: Economic Development, Access to Care & Workforce Development: A Progressive Roadmap.  Click on the link to read the speech and watch the video. It provides a great contrast to my challenger’s ideas. (Watch the video after the jump. Also, check out research regarding the reality of TIFs around the country. Seriously, Detroit, $16.5 million for a Whole Foods store?)

Continue reading Corporate Tax Giveaways Are Key Issue in LD9 Primary (video)

From Guns to Water: LD9 Forum Video

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

We had a great crowd of about 50 people who came out for the Tanque Verde Democrats LD9 Forum on May 12. For those of you who couldn’t make it, my husband Jim manned me video camera, and we taped the whole thing.

There are seven videos total. Each incumbent or candidate answered every question, and each question is a separate video. The video topics are: introductory comments, water policy, the property tax hike for TUSD residents, gun violence prevention, police interactions with communities of color, working across the aisle, and closing comments with accomplishments or goals.

You can watch the forum videos, as well as my one-minute updates and selected Arizona House Floor Videos on my YouTube Channel here.  (There is also a link to subscribe if you want to follow me on YouTube.) Below the fold are the videos from the meeting. If you are wondering what that red cone is in several of the videos, it is a flag on an audience member’s wheelchair. At first when I saw the raw video footage, I thought, “Who was wearing a tiny red party hat?” Check out the videos after the jump.

Continue reading From Guns to Water: LD9 Forum Video

With Massive Tax Cuts from Feds, Big Corps Don’t Need AZ Tax Giveaways (video)

Mama Grizzly

Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin called herself a “Mama Grizzly” because she said she would fight like a Mama Grizzly to protect her children.

Although “Mama Grizzly” was a catchy marketing slogan for the folksy rural mayor from Alaska, the Republican Party has never embraced the idea of protecting children after birth or helping families. Unfortunately, this week Congressional Republicans took their disregard for middle class families one step further by voting for billions of dollars in tax cuts for big corporations and for the richest Americans– while saddling our children and grandchildren with massive debt to pay the bills in the future.

Hmmm… let’s see… what to do… pass legislation that would actually help millions of Americans– like equitably funding public education across the country or fixing the Affordable Care Act (to make it affordable) — OR cut taxes for your rich donors? Cut taxes, of course! With party-line votes to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congressional Republicans have shown that they are far more interested in enriching the billionaire class than in improving the lives of everyday Americans. Universal healthcare? Food Security? World-class public education? Safe roads and bridges? Financial stability for the middle class? Meh. Congressional Republicans don’t care about pursuing the People’s To-Do List.

Although the majority of Americans see the tax cut bill as unfair, Republicans are on course to deliver the biggest Christmas present… ever… to the 0.01%.

In my opinion, the passage of this massive wealth transfer bill underscores the need for a few new progressive action items…

Continue reading With Massive Tax Cuts from Feds, Big Corps Don’t Need AZ Tax Giveaways (video)

Economic Inequality, Access to Care & Workforce Development: A Progressive Roadmap (video)

On December 4, 2017, I gave a talk on economic inequality at the Democrats of Greater Tucson Luncheon. This is the text of that speech.

Economist Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, recently gave a talk which focused on solving economic inequality. He pointed to five key areas of the economy that keep the rich rich and keep the rest of us in our places:

  • Macroeconomics;
  • Intellectual property rights;
  • Practice protection by highly paid professionals;
  • Financial regulation; and
  • Cooperate governance.

Given this list, can a state legislator like me make a dent in economic inequality? I think so.

I ran on a platform that focused on economic reform and public banking; equality and paycheck fairness; and attacking the opioid crisis.

How does my platform dovetail with Dean Baker’s list? There is quite a bit of overlap—particularly in macroeconomics, intellectual property rights, and practice protection.

Continue reading Economic Inequality, Access to Care & Workforce Development: A Progressive Roadmap (video)

Nov 2017 Constituent Update: News & Events

UA College of Medicine

My November 2017 update featured an essay related to the findings from the October healthcare forum, as well as several event updates. You can read 200 Stories: Healthcare Forum Attendees Reject Repeal of ACA here. Below are photos from events and field trips that I have taken recently. You can receive my monthly updates in your email inbox by signing up here.

Touring the UA College of Medicine & Mirror Lab

UA College of Medicine
Along with other Legislators, I toured new laboratory spaces at the University of Arizona College of Medicine (COM) and heard a research update from Dean Chuck Cairns, MD (left). I also reconnected with COM Deputy Dean for Research Dr. Anne Cress (right), whom I knew when I was in public relations at the Arizona Cancer Center. The people of Arizona are blessed to have these two competent and caring folks working for us in medical research. The researcher in the lab photo above is working on non-addictive pain treatments that could replace highly-addictive opioids on the market today. I also toured the amazing UA Mirror Lab (below) recently. I believe that the state should return to the practice of offering seed grants to young scientists in the university system. Preliminary data gathered with seed grant funds can be used to apply for larger national grants. Scientific research to benefit humanity + clean, good-paying jobs in the peace economy: this is what economic development looks like. (BTW, this is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the COM.)
UA Mirror Lab
Scientists build giant telescope mirrors in the UA Mirror Lab.

Continue reading Nov 2017 Constituent Update: News & Events

Sept 2017 LD9 Constituent Update: News & Events

Michael Peel and Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

My September update to constituents featured my Legislative Report card, which I expanded on in this blog post. 

Since September was so full of events, I decided to publish the update in two parts. This is the fun part– the photo album of events.

Labor Day Picnic

Labor Day Tucson 2017
Despite the sweltering heat, Jim and I had a great time at the Labor Day Picnic. We collected a lot of Clean Elections $5 donations and signatures. Here I am with LD9 chair Michael Dues.
Labor Day Tucson 2017
Women candidates, activists, and electeds were everywhere on Labor Day. Left to right we have: Linda Lyon (Blog for Arizona blogger and education activist), LD11 House candidate Holly Lyon, me, CD2 candidate Mary Matiella, and TUSD board member Kristal Foster.
Labor Day Tucson 2017
My shady tent was very popular. Here I am with LD9 Senate candidate Victoria Steele and Attorney General candidate and Emerge Sister January Contreras.

Continue reading Sept 2017 LD9 Constituent Update: News & Events

Queue the Spooky Organ Music: It’s Budget Time in the #AZLeg (video)

Arizona Legislature

The much-anticipated FY2018 Arizona state budget was dropped this week. On Tuesday, just before 5 p.m. both the Republican and Democratic Appropriations Committees heard the JLBC review of the Republican budget.  Thus begins the mysterious whirlwind of the Arizona budget finalization process, which is scheduled to end in the wee hours of Friday morning.

As a citizen, I always scratched my head as to why the Arizona budget is always passed in the middle of the night. Obviously, the suspicion is that there is something the majority party wants to pass, and it doesn’t want you to know or to be there when it happens. There’s an element of that, for sure, because we have seen some scary stuff passed in the middle of the night by Republicans– like the voter suppression omnibus bill and blowing the doors off of campaign finance by dramatically boosting campaign limits. The majority party schedules the third day of the budget process just after midnight because they don’t want their members to go home between the debates in the Committee of the Whole (COW) and the 3rd Reading vote. If members go home, someone could say, “What are you thinking?” and change votes.

Check out the budgetary known knowns, known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns below.

Continue reading Queue the Spooky Organ Music: It’s Budget Time in the #AZLeg (video)

Arizona Legislature: Tax Cuts R Us

Pamela Powers Hannley

Last week in the Arizona Legislature was crossover week, which means bills passed by one house started to be heard by the other. The House began hearing Senate bills on Monday and vice versa. In advance of crossover week come two weeks of cramming as many bills into the pipeline as possible.

By mid-February, the House had passed the 200-bills-passed threshold and had two late nights during the week of February 20– 7 p.m. on Tuesday and 11:30 p.m. on Thursday (the deadline to hear House bills). If you want to hear some late-night speechifying, check out the debate on the Citizens Initiative— which the Republicans and the Chamber of Commerce want to kill and the Democrats defended. (When you go to the video, the agenda of the debate appears below, so you can scroll in to the sections you want to view.)

There have definitely been some themes so far in this session. Besides the push for fingerprinting citizens, the jabs at environmental protection, and the elimination of oversight and transparency by cutting all citizen review boards, the big theme has been giving away tax revenue (AKA, tax cuts, tax credits, tax subtraction, tuition waivers, economic development or trickle down economics).

Ironically, on many of these giveaway bills fiscally conservative Republicans (who don’t like spending money) and the fiscally conservative Progressives (who don’t want to give away tax revenue as long as the schools are underfunded) voted together. In the past two weeks, there have been maybe as many as 10 bills where some combination of Progressives and Conservatives voted against spending money that we don’t have.

Continue reading Arizona Legislature: Tax Cuts R Us