Two #AZGOP Budget Bills Defeated in #AZHouse (video)

Flat tax is bad for Arizona

Two of the 11 bills that make up the Republican budget for Arizona — HB2899 and HB2900 — were defeated 30-30 in the Arizona House on Monday, June 7.

These bills include the disastrous Flat Tax proposal and the income tax cap at 4.5%. Together, they are an attack on the will of the voters because they reduce the impact of Prop 208 (Invest in Ed) on Arizona’s wealthiest residents. Arizona’s 1% (about 30,000 people) would have been the biggest beneficiaries of the Republican’s $1.5 billion in tax cuts in their budget. This state has over 7 million people. Why are the Republicans working for 30,000 people? These bills — and the other nine that make up their budget deal — deserve to die.

I am so thankful for Rep. David Cook who voted “no” on both bills along with all 29 Democrats. The flat tax would have really hurt cities and towns across Arizona. They would have lost more than $200 million in shared revenue if the Flat Tax had passed. It would have forced them to cut services or raise sales taxes dramatically. Rep. Steve Kaiser stood up and gave a short but impassioned speech about how glorious it would be to live in a state like Texas or Nevada with no income tax. He failed to add how high the sales taxes and miscellaneous fees are in states that have low personal and/or corporate income taxes. (Somebody pays. Roads and schools are not free.)

Continue reading Two #AZGOP Budget Bills Defeated in #AZHouse (video)

#AZGOP Budget Has Flat Tax & Tax Breaks But Lacks Votes (video)

The House Appropriations Committee was debating the budget as I drove to the Capitol on Tuesday morning. The Republicans started the budget process by introducing the 11 bills that make up the coming fiscal year’s budget on Monday, May 24. Except for leaked documents and rumors, this was the first time the Democrats and the public were able to see the whole proposal (available here).

Rumors have been swirling around the Capitol for weeks about the massive tax cut — biggest ever in Arizona history — and the flat tax proposal that the Republicans were planning. The rumor mill also said they didn’t have the votes to pass it. Republicans need ALL of their members to get in line on the budget, since the flat tax and other shortcomings make their budget a non-starter with Democrats, who make up 48% of the Arizona Legislature.

Continue reading #AZGOP Budget Has Flat Tax & Tax Breaks But Lacks Votes (video)

#AZHouse Adjourns with No Budget. Et Tu, #AZSenate? (video)

Still Red for Ed

UPDATE:

On the afternoon of May 27, 2021, the Arizona Senate adjourned until June 10 because the Republicans don’t have the votes to pass their budget, which was created behind closed doors by a handful of their members.

ORIGINAL POST from earlier that day:

As I reported yesterday, some Arizona Republicans are feeling the heat from constituents on their horrible budget, the $1.5 bullion in tax cuts (primarily benefiting the wealthy), and the flat tax. What do they expect when an extremist budget crafted behind closed doors by handful of Republicans is revealed to the media and the voters? Of course, people will be outraged. Republicans have their tax cut blinders on. They are ignoring so many needs that could be funded with the money we now have.

On May 26, the House adjourned until June 10 because the Republicans did not have the votes to cram the budget through both houses in the middle of the night (standard operating procedure for Arizona Republicans). This is historic! Stopping the budget process because Republicans are in disarray has not happened in years.

Continue reading #AZHouse Adjourns with No Budget. Et Tu, #AZSenate? (video)

Arizona Needs a Comprehensive Approach to Affordable Housing (video)

affordable housing

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)

Arizona Republicans Pass More Voter Suppression Bills (video)

voter suppression in Arizona

Each session has a pattern. This year, everything seems more orderly. We have had only one night where we were on the floor past 7 PM. Mondays generally have a leisurely pace, now that there are no committee meetings, but Thursday’s make up for it with rousing debates.

Arizona House members had several debates on voter suppression and unnecessary election tinkering on April 29. Three bad election bills passed on a party line vote. The worst one sets up a differential system for paper ballots that have missing, messed up or non-matching signatures. Ballots with missing signatures can be cured only up to 7 PM on the night of the election, while messed up signatures can be cured for up to five days after the election.

People whose first language is not English are more likely to not sign their ballots, according to Rep. Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren from LD7. People, who are older and whose handwriting may be impaired or changing due to a medical diagnosis, would end up in the five-day signature resolution pile. You can see why this two-tiered system for signature curing matters. Also, many people drop their completed paper ballots off at the polling place. Those ballots are usually counted AFTER election day. Any of those ballots without signatures wouldn’t be counted at all if SB1003 is signed into law.

The Navajo Nation sued the state of Arizona over this issue in 2018 and won. Why are the Republicans putting into law, the very system on which we lost in court? SB1003 is a terrible bill.
Continue reading Arizona Republicans Pass More Voter Suppression Bills (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?