#AZGOP Budget: $0 for Housing Trust Fund, Teacher Pay or Maternal & Child Health (video)

homelessness

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)

What Did #AZLeg Do in the First 100 Days?

Phoenix

For many years, the Arizona Legislature has had a 100 day target for the length of each session. April 20, 2021 was day 100 for this session. When more than 1000 bills are proposed every year and more than 300 are usually signed into law in non-pandemic years, the Legislature doesn’t generally finish in 100 days.

So, what did we do in the first 100 days? Here are a few examples of bills that have been signed by the governor. Below is the complete list of 33 video updates that I have created in 2021 … so far.

The Legislature passed two massive corporate tax giveaways that will primarily help Maricopa County — the qualified facilities tax credit (HB2321) and the data center tax incentive (HB2649).  Fun Fact: according to the Financial Advisory Committee, 90 percent of the job creation touted by Governor Doug Ducey has been in the Phoenix metro area. Bills like HB2321 and HB2649 perpetuate the inequitable system that exists in our state.

We passed a passed another Ducey priority, the  massive expansion of gambling (HB2772/SB1797), which legalizes sports betting, fantasy sports betting, and app-based Keno. In exchange for additional casinos and a portion of the app-based gambling action, the tribes backed and heavily lobbied for expanding off-reservation gambling. Since most of the new tribal casinos and all of the major league sports teams are in Maricopa County, the millions generated from gambling will disproportionately benefit Maricopa County. I have serious concerns about the negative public health and privacy aspects of this dramatic expansion. Gambling will be everywhere, and gambling apps will be hounding people on social media — thanks to HB2772. Every click, every bet, every win, every loss, and every betting location on every app-based gambler will be collected, stored, and used to advertise more gambling.

Ducey surprisingly vetoed Cathi Herrod’s bad bill which put ideological guardrails on what can be taught in sex education (SB1456). A second Center for Arizona Policy bill which criminalizes doctors and patients for even talking about abortion (SB1457) is awaiting the governors signature (or veto) at the time of this writing.

Many bills are stuck in the process somewhere, which is a good thing. Arizona would be in terrible condition if all of the tax giveaways, voter suppression schemes, and education privatization bills passed. In my opinion, Democrats should push for a speedy end to this horrible session, so the Legislature doesn’t do any more damage to our state or take away more of our rights.

There are many other examples. Check out the good, the bad and the ugly. Below is a list of my video updates for 2021 … so far.

Continue reading What Did #AZLeg Do in the First 100 Days?

Republicans Attack Invest In Ed & Ignore Voters (video)

Red for Ed

Today was the last Ways and Means Committee Meeting of 2021, and it was a doozie. More interruptions. More suppression of speech. More putdowns.

There were several controversial bills on the agenda, particularly three that take money from public education or lead to more privatization.

SB1273 would allow Student Tuition Organizations (STOs) to give students money for expenses other than tuition. we know that STO’s are not transparent. We know how many scholarships they deliver but not how many students are being served. We also know that some parents get as much is $20,000 a year per child for those children to attend private or religious schools. That’s blatantly unfair and in equitable. SB1273 would just allow them to give away more tax with no accountability.

SB1280 is about the privatization of school transportation. There is a previous video on this bill, but things came out in committee that make men more against it. One of my big concerns about strike-everything bill SB1280 is child safety. This bill allows charter schools and districts schools to use some of their current transportation funding in order to give grants to parents. As you may know, charter schools get money for transportation, but they don’t have to use it on transportation. I’m sure you’ve seen the long lines of parents who are picking up or dropping off their kids at charter schools. Public school kids have the opportunity to ride the school bus or perhaps even walk to their neighborhood school. This bill would allow parents to apply for grants to get an unknown amount of money to come up with “innovative ways” to get their kids to school, including paying parents gas mileage or funding neighborhood carpools, city bus passes, or ride sharing services (like Uber or Lyft).

Continue reading Republicans Attack Invest In Ed & Ignore Voters (video)

Striker #HB2321​ Is Massive Corporate Welfare Bill (video)

Arizona Legislators & Duecy at Intel

It feels like deja vu all over again. This week a vanilla bill (HB2321) was used as a striker and was turned into a huge tax credit for big corporations. Corporations who have $2 billion or more to invest in building “qualified facilities” and hiring workers at a certain level are eligible for a total of $125 million in refundable tax credits per year.

What is wrong with that?

Continue reading Striker #HB2321​ Is Massive Corporate Welfare Bill (video)

Economic Development Across Arizona (video)

Phoenix

Business incentives, also known as tax giveaways, are common up here in the Arizona Legislature. Today’s video is about three different economic development bills. I voted “no” on two of them and “yes” on one.

HB2834 is the ultimate in picking winners and losers. It would allow municipalities to determine projects that would be eligible for lower property taxes in order to reduce their expenses while the project is being developed. (This is similar to GPLET but different.) The upshot is that you could have one building that is getting a dramatically reduced property tax rate right next to another building whose owner is paying their fair share of property taxes. ATRA spoke against this bill and said it could be subject to gift clause legal challenges. This was billed as legislation that would help rural Arizona, but it was a statewide plan to allow municipalities to pick winners and losers. It died in committee with four Republicans and me voting “no,” and three Dems and two Republicans voting “yes”.

HB2282 is a small business assistance grant using federal dollars. It would distribute $5000 grants to truly small business to help them keep afloat or help them re-invent themselves for the post-COVID era. It has limited time frame, it will help Local First businesses, and it uses federal dollars we have. It easily passed on a bipartisan vote. This was also a state wide economic development plan, but the bill sponsor, Rep. Aaron Lieberman, had metrics built into it to make sure that rural Arizona gets their fair share.

HB2649 is the 10-year continuation of tax incentives for data centers. When you store your data and information on the cloud, it’s actually being stored in a giant facility in Phoenix. The Lobbyist said that this 10 year program have been really successful because now Arizona has 25 data centers that qualify for this tax giveaway. I asked where the data centers are located and how many jobs were created. The Lobbyist presentations were very thin considering this is a 10 year multi million dollar program. When I had my public relations business, one of my services was writing and designing annual reports. There should be a 10 year recap on what’s been accomplished by this program, how much it costs and how many jobs were created where — not just nebulous factoids and random data points.

Continue reading Economic Development Across Arizona (video)

Labor Day 2020: Protests against Corporate Welfare Replace Labor Picnic (video)

Labor Day Protest in Tucson

Labor Day 2020 in Tucson was … different.

Instead of hosting a giant picnic at Reid Park with games, food, and networking, the Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF) joined other groups for seven days of protests against corporate tax giveaways, gentrification, and expansion of Tucson’s Central Business District this Labor Day week.

Barrio Neighborhood Coalition activists, PALF members, Mi Familia Vota, Jobs with Justice, college students, neighbors, Catholic workers, and other progressives turned out to protest the upcoming Tucson Mayor and Council decision on Sept. 9 regarding expansion of the Central Business District (CBD) and expansion of GPLET tax giveaways in the CBD.

Tax Giveaway Protest
Ward 3 GPLET protest on Sept. 3.

The first protest was at the Ward 3 office in LD9. This office is located in the Opportunity Zone that conveniently runs along the path of destruction of the Grant Road Widening Project, which has been hanging in limbo for ~30 years just like the Broadway Blvd. Widening Project. In the days of increased online commuting, why are we knocking down all of the businesses on two major arteries, forcing businesses to move or close, and then incentivizing new businesses to go there? This is the ultimate in “picking winners and losers.” How is this friendly to local businesses when government forces many of them to go out of business or forces them to hang in limbo for decades while decisions are made in endless meetings, many of which are behind closed doors?

The Labor Day protest was at the Ward 6 office also in Midtown but in LD10. Approximately, 40 people came to that protest, including former City Councilwoman and former mayoral candidate Molly McKasson.  She lost the mayoral race to Republican and former Raytheon executive Bob Walkup. Years ago in the Arizona Daily Star, Molly said, “It’s too bad Tucson decided to put all of its eggs in the developers’ basket.” Ten years or more later, that statement is prophetic.

Continue reading Labor Day 2020: Protests against Corporate Welfare Replace Labor Picnic (video)