Budget Paused as #AZLeg Focuses on Fire (video)

Telegraph fire near Globe

Governor Doug Ducey has called the Legislature into special session to address the seven fires raging across the state and their aftermath. This is obviously not Arizona’s worst fire season … yet … but this is the first special session to address fire. In fact, 2020 was our worst fire year on record. Why didn’t Ducey bring up fire suppression, mitigation and prevention during the budget process — or in his State of the State address? Arizona’s government doesn’t have to wait for homes, businesses, and hundreds — or thousands — of acres of farmland, ranchland, and desert to be destroyed before we act.

One bill will be heard in the special session, HB2001. If you want to read the one and a half page bill, it is on Request to Speak on the Legislature’s website. Pull down “55th Legislature, Special Session” to see it. There is not a lot of detail, beyond a list of dollar amounts and a general breakdown on how the proposed $100 million appropriation will be spent. For example …

Continue reading Budget Paused as #AZLeg Focuses on Fire (video)

#AZ Democratic Budget Shows Difference in Priorities, Values & Spending (video)

Arizona Democratic Budget

Arizona Republicans have been twisting arms for weeks to find 31 of their members in the House and 16 in the Senate to pass their budget that includes $12.5 billion in tax giveaways and a flat tax. (You didn’t expect the Republicans to actually “Invest in Ed,” did you?)

While the Republican budget is languishing, let’s talk alternatives. Governor Doug Ducey and the Republicans like to brag about how great the Arizona economy is, how much money the state has, and their plans to give money back to the “taxpayers”.

There are several major problems with the Republican narrative:

  • The “taxpayers” who benefit the most from the Republican budget are Arizona’s wealthiest. (You’ll remember Prop 208 required wealthy Arizonans to pay a fee to fund public education. Ever since that passed, Ducey and his cronies in the Legislature have proposed multiple methods to eliminate the impact of Prop 208 on the ~30,000 people who would otherwise have to pay it. )
  • The gap between rich and poor in Arizona has been widening, and their budget — particularly the $12.5 billion in tax breaks — would make that worse.
  • The state is currently flush with funds thanks to federal relief during the pandemic and online retail purchases by people who remained employed during the pandemic.
  • It’s NOT time to give our tax dollars to the rich and ignore the needs of the people of Arizona. The Democratic budget restores or increases funding for education, healthcare, housing, food and security; these priorities are left out of the Republican budget to make way for Welfare for the Wealthy.

Each year Legislative Democrats assemble their budget to show the people of Arizona that there are alternatives. Below are budget recommendations from Arizona’s Democratic Legislators. The full document can be found here. The JLBC overview of the Republican budget is here.

Continue reading #AZ Democratic Budget Shows Difference in Priorities, Values & Spending (video)

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)

#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)