The Grand Canyon Institute is a “centrist think tank” that provides a great service to our state by analyzing economic issues and producing independent reports. (You can read many of these reports at this link on their website.)
Below is June 8, 2021 press release from the Grand Canyon Institute. It incudes key findings from an research paper about educational funding and attainment and related declines in state revenue and productivity. You’ll note that decline in educational attainment among Arizona residents tracks with the state’s decline in school funding and the decline in state revenue. In 1970, Arizona had 18% more college graduates than the national average; by 2018, we had 9% fewer college graduates than the national average. When I moved to Arizona in 1981, I remember reading a quote in the newspaper from then Governor Bruce Babbit. He said the state’s economy was poised for greatness because Arizona had so many college graduates. Well, decades of budget cuts took care of that!
If you scroll all the way down at the bottom of the ASU graphic you’ll find the “money quote” in tiny type: “It is highly likely that the state’s relative declines in educational attainment contribute to declines in productivity and prosperity and have increased Arizonans enrollment in public assistance programs.”
The graphic also notes that if Arizona had not continued to cut taxes each year — thus maintaining the tax base — “the state general fund would have taken in 44% more in revenue.”
As I have said many times: the state of Arizona creates its own problems with short-sighted decisions that are rooted in ideology … not in data, science, or compassion for the people.
Continue reading Grand Canyon Inst – AZ Budget Priorities: Tax Cuts v. Productivity & Prosperity
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)
Corporate America, was it something I said?
Are you putting tens of thousands of dollars in big money donations behind my pro Trump, pro deregulation, pro tax giveaway, pro privatized insurance, pro Open Up Arizona (and masks are a personal choice) Republican opponent because I told the people of Arizona the truth about tax giveaways? That we were poised to giveaway $1 billion in taxes to corporations, special interest groups and wealthy Arizonans in 2020, after giving them $400 million in 2019?
Or was it because I said (repeatedly) that we should fund the People’s To-Do List — Education, Infrastructure, Healthcare and Safety and Security — instead of the Corporate Wish List?
Or maybe you didn’t like my video on raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for public education, instead of continuing to raise sales taxes on the poor to fund the state government?
Or maybe you didn’t like it when I exposed the GPLET tax shell game or the $13 billion in state tax giveaways?
Or was it my speeches against voter suppression and against attacks on Clean Elections, the Citizen’s Initiative, Independent Redistricting and Medical Marijuana?
Or was it because I opposed the sub-minimum wage of $7.25/hour, fake pregnancy clinics, dangerous deregulation, and Reefer Madness anti-marijuana legalization efforts?
Or was it when I said that Arizona chose a short-term economic boost over common sense, opened up the economy too soon, and gave our state the worst COVID19 record in the world ?
Continue reading Big Money Politics Targets the ‘Tucson Progressive’ in 2020 Election (video)
What does “defund the police” mean to you?
Following the tragic and unnecessary deaths of George Floyd, Dion Johnson, Rayshard Brooks, Carlos Ingram Lopez and others at the hands of law enforcement officers, there have been calls to “defund the police.”
Often the same people who say “defund the police” also add “that doesn’t mean take away all of the funding.” When I ask what it does mean, the explanations often get mushy. Recently, I read “What Defund Police Really Means: Replacing Social Control with Investment” by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
In this Guardian article, Reich talks about increased spending in social investment beginning in the mid 1960s through President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Beginning in 1964, the War on Poverty efforts rolled out Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, Food Stamps, cash assistance to the poor, equal opportunity programs, the voting rights act and more. By the early 1970s, these programs were working to reduce poverty, particularly among African Americans.
In 1971, future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell wrote the now infamous “Powell Memo,” which author and historian Bill Moyers labels a “Call to Arms for Corporations, “ excerpted …
Continue reading Defund the Police? Balancing ‘Social Control’ & ‘Social Investment’ (video)
Usually, sine die is an orderly but sometimes drama-filled end to the Legislative session. Historically, the Arizona House and the Senate vote to sine die (end the session) on the same night and often under the cloak of darkness.
The second session of the 54th Legislature was… different… even before the novel Coronavirus hit the world. Although Democrats made up 48 percent of the House members in the 54th Legislature, the Republican leadership refused to work with Democrats and refused to put any bills up for a vote unless all 31 of their members were in their chairs and ready to vote in lock step with their party. The Republican leadership’s attempts to tightly control the action resulted in chaotic schedules (when all Republicans were present), several closed-door Republican caucus meetings, and long stretches of inaction because one or more R votes were missing. This is no way to run a government.
The Arizona House of Representatives was adjourned from March 23, 2020 to May 19, 2020, due to the COVID19 pandemic. Some of us wanted to sine die on March 23 and go back into for special session(s) focused on COVID19 public health and economic issues, later when we know the economics of our situation better. Others– mostly Republicans– wanted to stay in session and pause the action by adjourning because they had hopes that their bills would still pass during this session.
Continue reading Arizona’s 54th Legislative Session Ends: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
President Trump and Congress have been bailing out businesses with multiple Coronavirus relief packages. One business they haven’t helped is the US Postal Service. In fact, Trump has suggested shutting down the post office and privatizing the services.
I think that is a terrible idea for the American public. The US Postal Service (USPS) is the general public’s most cost-effective and convenient way to send letters and packages to other people in this country. The Postal Service was created by the Founding Fathers because they realized how important it was for us to stay in communication with each other and with the government.￼ President Thomas Jefferson even wanted the newspaper to be delivered free to every person in the US to keep us informed.
Privatization of government services never benefits the people. I can’t think of any instance in which a service was privatized, and the people actually got better service and/or more cost-effective service. With privatization, the service always gets worse, more expensive, and less widespread and universal.￼ It’s costs 55 cents for one first class postage stamp; that is the cost to mail a letter to anyone in the US. To send a Fed Ex letter, it costs $8.50– or $11 if the letter’s destination is more than 601 miles away. Plus, you have to take the letter to Fed Ex to mail it. Privatization is about making money. It’s not about providing quality, low-cost services in a non-discriminatory way, across the entire country equally for everybody.￼ That’s what the Postal Service gives us. If Trump succeeds in privatizing the postal service, thousands of union workers will lose their jobs, costs will skyrocket, convenience will be lost, and people in remote areas will lose mail service or pay ridiculous prices in order to guarantee a profit.
Continue reading Dump Trump. Save & Expand Postal Services (video)