In May 2022, within 10 days of each other, there were two mass murders in the US.
On May 14, 10 black people were gunned down and three others injured in a neighborhood grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
On May 24, 2022, 19 children and two teachers were murdered and 17 wounded inside an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
When will the United States take meaningful steps to curb gun violence in this country?
Continue reading When Will the US Take Meaningful Steps to End Gun Violence (video)
The Arizona Legislature surpassed Day 150 this week. You’ll remember that the target length for a session is 100 days. That shipped sailed in mid April.
Season 2 Episode 8 of A View from the Left Side is a compilation of Legislative Updates recorded between April 18, 2022 and May 31, 2022.
Three of these updates focus on the stalled budget process. The House Republican Caucus is fractured and there is no collaboration between the House and Senate leadership teams.
There are rumors of another Republican budget but no bills have been dropped, and recent leaded spreadsheet likely doesn’t have the votes to pass.
Libertarians don’t want to spend money on anything — despite great need in the state and a $5 billion surplus.
Democrats aren’t likely to support a budget that doesn’t include a significant investment in public education. Prop 208, which the Republicans took down in court, would have provided $900 million in revenue for public education by assessing a fee on excessive income over $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for couples.
Continue reading Podcast Rep. PPH Capitol Updates: Back Story on the Budget
It is a sad state of affairs when our government’s most important decisions — how to wisely invest $5 billion and how to maintain our water supply into the future — are made behind closed doors by a tiny group of (primarily) white men.
The Libertarian and Corporate wings of the Arizona Republican Caucus in the Legislature have been battling each other over the budget, since the skinny austerity budget failed in April on a bipartisan vote.
While Republicans twist each other’s arms over the budget, water, and tax giveaways, floor action focuses on culture wars, 2020 election conspiracy theories, voter suppression and guns. Since April, the Legislature has had sketchy schedules with a handful of votes and many days of adjournment. (Don’t get me wrong the extra days working from home in Tucson are greatly appreciated.)
In 2021, Republican disarray over the budget dragged out the session until June 30 — the very last day to pass a budget. If the Republicans are going to make backroom deals until they get 100% of their members to agree on the budget, I prefer 2022’s the somewhat random scheduling to 2021’s 28 days of “Pledge and Pray” with no votes. (That was a real waste of time and money!) Although many Legislators (Ds and Rs) stated publicly that they didn’t want a repeat of 2021, that is where we are headed.
Continue reading House Hears Seven Election Bills … Budget Remains Stalled (video)
For more than a month, the Legislature hasn’t done much except pass a few bills and take random days off. The current glacial pace is the result of multiple feuds within the Republican Caucus of the Arizona Legislature.
The budget appears to be going no where. For weeks, the Republican leadership has been stuck between a rock (pleasing their Libertarian wing) and a hard place (negotiating with the Democrats). The Republican austerity budget died on a bipartisan vote in the House Appropriations Committee in late April. (Check out my late April blog post and video on that subject.)
Libertarians don’t want to spend money on anything — even to save lives. This is unrealistic and cruel when our state has $5 billion in the coffers and chronic poverty. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership wants to continue their tradition of not negotiating with the Democrats on the budget. Our ideas are not extreme; we have common sense spending proposals (like funding public education, basic healthcare, affordable housing, and infrastructure).
Continue reading Divided Republican Party Delays Budget & Drags Session Out (video)
According to Arizona’s financial advisory committee, the state has more than $1.3 billion in ongoing funds and $3.6 billion in one-time funds to work with as we begin the budget process. We have $5 billion.
Why are Republicans proposing an austerity budget in times of plenty? Their pet projects — like the Flat Tax, Koch Brothers Freedom Schools, results-based funding and fake pregnancy clinics — are included in this first pass at the budget.
What’s not in this budget? Funding for K-12 education (since the Republicans killed Prop 208 in the courts), maternal and child health, Housing Trust Fund, help for the homeless, eviction relief, major infrastructure projects, expansion of cash assistance to the poor (TANF), programs to address chronic poverty, etc.
When there is so much need, why aren’t we investing in the future? (This video was recorded on April 19, 2022. Read the April 26 update and see the video below.)
Continue reading Republicans Propose Austerity Budget. Why? (video)
I was surprised to find Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge on my desk on the Floor of the Arizona House on Monday. First of all, state employees like the Pages should not be distributing political propaganda to members in the House Chambers on state time.
That aside, Norquist’s pledge is completely unrealistic in a state that gives away as much tax revenue as possible in the form of tax advantages for big corporations, wealthy Arizonans, and private religious schools. Norquist’s tax pledge states that members pledge to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.” The problem is that Arizona has far too many lawmakers — on both sides of the aisle — who consistently vote to give your taxes away.
When they go overboard with tax breaks and are caught short during a financial disaster — like the Wall Street Crash of 2008-09 — the state is forced to cut vital programs or raise taxes to make up the difference. Arizona has been cutting taxes for decades; this resulted in massive across the board cuts under Governor Jan Brewer and Senate President Russell Pearce.
Let’s not go there again. Let’s learn from past mistakes, shall we?
Continue reading Grover Norquist Tax Pledge Is Unrealistic in Tax Giveaway State (video)