Today’s video starts with a walk down memory lane to HB 2365. This was a very complicated, major telecom bill that passed the Legislature in 2017. I was the only person in the Legislature who voted “no” on the final read.￼ I believe I was the last person to vote. Rep. Isela Blanc turned to me and said “You’re voting ‘no’? You should explain your vote.”
I didn’t explain my vote because my stance was part hunch.￼
I originally voted “yes” on HB2365. (I remember being skeptical, but it was sold as no big deal.) I voted “no” when it came back from the Senate with amendments for two reasons. 1) The bill included a lot of accelerated depreciation, which I interpreted as a tax break for the telecom corporations.￼￼ I remember asking questions of the staff regarding the cost, and there wasn’t really any clear answer about cost. 2) The bill was very complicated. I remember the explanation alone being pages long, and we had to make a decision very quickly. I voted “no” because I thought we really didn’t know￼￼ what we were voting on.
Continue reading Is 5G ‘Risky Business’? (video)
The sheer volume of tax credits, tax cuts, tax shifts, and miscellaneous tax giveaways in this Legislative session is mind boggling. Will the Arizona House pass one billion dollars in tax giveaways in 2020? It could happen. To say that this behavior is fiscally irresponsible is a gross understatement.
The House Ways and Means Committee has passed 18 tax giveaways in 2020, and those bills are now hitting the House floor for debate and votes. Six of the 18 already have passed the House: HB2355, HB2356, HB2293, HB2732, HB2778, and HB2779. (See descriptions below.) These six will eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue from the General Fund, and there are 12 more tax giveaways to be voted on. As noted in previous blog posts, these tax giveaways primarily benefit large corporations– like Microsoft, APS, TEP, SRP, SW Gas– specific business groups or industries, and wealthy Arizonans.
It is often said that a budget is a moral document. In our state budget, the Legislature supports corporations and wealthy Arizonans with never-ending, multi-year tax giveaways, that often have inflation adjusters. Arizona wouldn’t have an affordable housing problem, crumbling infrastructure, and grossly underfunded education system if the Legislature had long-term plans and multi-year, inflation-adjusted budgets to address those problems. Instead, programs and services that benefit the people of Arizona are lucky to get one-time funding and beg for more each year (or pass citizens initiatives). We don’t have a budget surplus; we have chronically underfunded programs.
Continue reading What Is the Cost? 18 Tax Giveaways Pass #AZ House Ways & Means (video)
All 12 tax giveaways or revenue reductions heard in the House Ways and Means Committee in the past three weeks passed– many on bipartisan votes. For the record, I was the only person who voted “no” on all of the tax giveaways.
To be clear, none of these tax reductions do anything to: increase education funding, increase access to healthcare, increase prenatal care, reduce adverse birth outcomes, reduce Adverse Childhood Experiences, reduce student debt, increase wages, foster workforce development, reduce poverty, or provide food and housing security for Arizonans. If you are not Microsoft, APS, TEP, SRP, SW Gas, qualified investors, resort owners, developers, contractors, or just rich people, you are not getting a tax break from the Republican Party.
In fact, to pay for education, the Republican Party wants to raise your sales tax while lowering taxes for corporations and elites.￼ Do you want to pay 10 or 11% of sales tax on every purchase? If you don’t, just say no to tax breaks for Microsoft, APS, SRP, TEP, SW Gas, and the richest Arizonans.
- Many of these tax breaks increase over time.
- Most of them have no sunset date.
- Most of them have no cost estimate.
- None of them have clear economic impact or job creation numbers– beyond the nebulous trickledown economics figures normally given by the Arizona Commerce Authority.
- None of them have clear performance measures.
- It takes 2/3 vote to get rid of them.
- No one has done the math on the total cost of all of them on an annual basis going forward.
We are creating a giant revenue hole in the future. This is fiscal irresponsibility.
Continue reading #AZLeg UPDATE: 12 Tax Giveaways Pass House W&M Committee in 3 Weeks (video)
How can a “pro-life” state be #50 for Adverse Childhood Experiences? Because the Arizona Legislature prioritizes corporate welfare over child welfare. It’s that simple.
The House Ways and Means Committee has passed six tax breaks in the past two weeks. Tomorrow’s agenda has 12 bills, including eight additional bills that are tax breaks or other means to reduce revenue. The Microsoft tax break (HB2771) that I warned you about a few weeks ago in on the agenda.
Ways and Means has passed six tax cuts so far in 2020. Has anyone done the math to determine the future annual hit if all of these tax breaks are passed. Probably not. We don’t have any JLBC costs estimates for some of them, and several are structured to automatically increase over time. The Tea Party– under Governor Jan Brewer, Senate President Russell Pearce, and several Legislators who are still in office– passed massive annual decreases in corporate income taxes, the results of which have been felt in the classrooms. When she left office, Brewer suggested that they may have gone overboard with the tax cuts. When Governor Dough Ducey took over, he said real men aren’t afraid to cuts taxes and has continued to cut, cut, cut. Let’s stop cutting and start investing. We have hundreds of millions of dollars in extra funds this year. Don’t let them give it away like they did last year.
Just to be clear– none of these 14 tax reductions would do anything to directly help public education, access to healthcare, reduction in poverty, workforce development or infrastructure. They are all about cutting taxes or giving tax credits to business.
Here are the bills that could reduce general fund revenue in the queue for Feb. 12. If you want the Legislature to invest in education, healthcare, and infrastructure– the People’s To Do List– instead of the corporate wish list, please voice your opinion on Request to Speak (RTS) or by phone or email to your Legislators (regardless of party).
Continue reading Tax Cuts R Us: Third Round of Massive Tax Cuts in House Ways & Means (video)
With big data surveillance, church recruitment, government-funded, incomplete and biased medical information, and unregulated clinics providing “all wrap-around pregnancy, counseling and post-childbirth services”, HB2388 is Big Brother and Aunt Lydia’s love child.
Last week was draining– with multiple tax cuts in Ways and Means, fake pregnancy centers in Health and Human Services (HB2388), and passage of the Build Your Own Border Wall on the House floor on reconsideration. (Another Zombie Bill brought back from the dead).
I recorded the video (below) late in the day on Thursday after the end of a two-part, marathon health committee meeting with multiple ideological debates. I am proud to serve with Dr. Amish Shah, and Reps. Kelli Butler and Alma Hernandez. The four of us did a great job standing up for patient choice, reproductive rights, medically accurate and unbiased information, science, privacy and separation of church and state.
Continue reading #HB2388: Big Brother Meets Aunt Lydia (video)
Should the Arizona Legislature help Microsoft pay its APS bills?
Tuesday was a light day at the Capital. There was no floor action, but I had time to catch up with colleagues and sign some of their bills. I wanted to tell you about the conversation I had with two Microsoft lobbyists about the tax break that Microsoft wants.
You may remember my blog post on Powers For The People (back in December) about the tax review committee that I was on, due to my membership on the Ways and Means Committee. One of the income tax credits that we reviewed was for an Apple international data center to be built with renewable energy in Mesa. At the time, Apple was offered a TPT (sales tax) break also, but the committee reviewed only the income tax break.
The lobbyists were in my office because Microsoft wants the TPT tax break that was offered to Apple. I told them that I really don’t support tax giveaways to multinational corporations. ￼Period. I don’t support any tax giveaways when ~68% of Arizona women aren’t getting first trimester prenatal care, and that is contributing to AHCCCS wasting $2-4 billion dollars on premature births (Not to mention the long-term health effects of prematurity.) When thousands of Arizona mothers and their children are living in poverty with food and housing insecurity, why would I prioritize a tax break for one of the most successful corporations in the US?
The lobbyist told me that the reason Microsoft needed a TPT tax break because “electricity is too expensive in the state of Arizona.” Microsoft doesn’t want to pay sales tax on electricity for this giant data center. International data centers take a use a lot of electricity because it is a building full of servers and cooled to ~65 degrees. This particular tax break is related to data centers built with renewable (solar) energy, which will already lower their energy cost significantly.
Continue reading Microsoft Wants a Sales Tax Break Because ‘Electricity Is Too Expensive in Arizona’ (video)
It has been a little more than a month since the 53rd Legislature ended with a 40-hour marathon, passing the budget in the middle of the night, under the watchful eye of Red for Ed teachers and supporters.
What did the Legislature do in the 53rd Session?
- We passed the comprehensive Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, to attack the opioid epidemic in Arizona.
- We passed dental therapy, expanding access to affordable dental care for urban and rural residents and creating new healthcare jobs. (Video.)
- We stopped several corporate tax giveaway bills that would have further drained the general fund and taken money from public education. (Video.)
- We stopped an untested technology from being used on Arizona workers. After Uber and Theranos, hopefully we have learned our lesson on putting untested technologies into statute. (Video.)
What didn’t we do?
- We failed to adequately fund k-12 public education, community colleges or the university system. In fact, the Republican response to the Red for Ed movement was to make 50 fund transfers to pay the teachers a bit more (but not as much as they deserve). It’s time to restore k-12 public education funds for personnel and infrastructure to pre-recession levels. Funding education is economic development. (Video.)
Continue reading What Did the 53rd Arizona Legislature Accomplish? (video)
On a lighter note, today’s video focuses on drone delivery devices. These are not flying taco copters. These are fancy ice chests on all-terrain baby buggy tires. Soon they will be making remote-controlled deliveries using our sidewalks, bike paths, intersections, and side streets with speed limits of 25 or less. Watch where you’re walking!
Many of you know that some of my ancestors were abolitionists, but did you know that I also come from a family of electricians? In the Powers Family (of course)– Grand Dad, Grandpa, and Dad were all electricians. As Powers Electric, three of them wired most of the houses in Oberlin, Ohio, during the first half of the 20th century. (That is Grandpa behind the counter of the Powers Electric store in downtown Oberlin, Ohio in the early 1920s.)
Given my family history, I thought it fitting that my first real public relations job was working at Arizona Electric Power Cooperative in Benson in the early 1980s– not long after we moved to Arizona. Even back then, I had misgivings about working for a coal-fired utility because I saw the devastation that coal strip-mining caused in Appalachia– including Southern Ohio where rolling wooded hills were transformed to miles of piles of rubble. (Hopefully, that travesty has been cleaned up by now.) I took the job at AEPCO because the pay was great, the job description fit my skills perfectly, and my partner had been laid-off– leaving us both unemployed with baby. (A few months before I took that job, we were denied AHCCCS and food stamps because we weren’t completely broke.)
Fast forward to 2016, and I’m running for the Arizona House. I have met with lobbyists from Tucson Electric Power (TEP), Arizona Public Service (APS), and now Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative (GCSEC). I believe that it is valuable to meet with them because I am one of the few candidates who understands their industry and whose job it was to explain electric generation to consumers. Also– what’s going in the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) and its relationship with APS, the heated race for ACC, proposed demand charges and increased electric rates, and the life of the solar industry are all HOT topics in the 2016 election.
Yesterday, I had a congenial meeting with the GCSEC lobbyist. This is the umbrella group for the electric cooperatives in this area. Electric cooperatives were created by President Franklin Roosevelt to bring electricity to rural America through the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). The lobbyist said that I was the first ever candidate whom he has met who knows about electric co-ops and has actually worked for one.
Continue reading The Electricity Candidate?