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
Should Arizona community colleges be allowed to offer four-year degrees? I would like to hear your opinions on this. I am on the fence.
“COVID orphan” bill HB2523 would allow Arizona community colleges to offer four-year degrees. According to supporters, besides being cheaper (because students would be local and rates would be lower), expanded capabilities for community colleges would allow them to offer degrees in subjects not offered by the universities.
I asked the sponsor Rep. Becky Nutt what subjects they would offer, and she said it was up to them. The problem with that reply is that the Legislature eliminated the community college oversight board several years ago. The university system has the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) to oversee the system. Community colleges have no ABOR. I think they need oversight and coordination if they’re going to be allowed to expand like this.
Continue reading Should Community Colleges Offer 4-Year Degrees? (video)
Each election season, there is an endorsement process. Organizations, groups and causes conduct their endorsement processes differently. Some just hand out endorsements. Some require candidates to answer questions and do interviews.
Last week, the Arizona Daily Star conducted their endorsement interview with the three Legislative District 9 candidates: Democratic incumbent Reps. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley and Republican challenger Brendan Lyons. In the before times, these interviews were conducted behind closed doors with only Star personnel and candidates at the newspaper’s office. In the COVID19 era, the endorsement interview was an online forum with ~15 constituents and Star staff in the audience. Having even a handful of constituents “in the room, was a worthwhile addition. As you’ll see in the video, the people had good questions about reproductive choice, education funding and other topics.
The interview is an hour long. Pop some popcorn, pour your favorite beverage, and watch the video here. For your convenience, below are the question time stamps. (You can check out my other endorsements, honors and candidate statements here. Watch the whole collection of Star endorsement interviews here.)
Continue reading Arizona Daily Star Editors Interview LD9 Candidates (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)
Three and a half months of sheltering in place — with the novel Coronavirus just one chance encounter away — have given us time to perfect our strategies for survival during the current government-created public health crisis and to make plans for a safe, more equitable, more enlightened future.
COVID19 turned the spotlight on the glaring disparities in our social and economic systems. The virus smashed open those broken systems and refused to let us turn away from the inequities of who gets sick, who lives, who dies, who goes broke, who loses their home, and who is forced to work in unsafe conditions. Blacks in the US have the highest death rates from COVID19 across all age groups, followed by Latinos, and with whites trailing behind. Your ZipCode, your income, and your race should not determine your healthcare access or your health outcomes.
On top of this outrage within the health care delivery system, we witness the unnecessary deaths of George Floyd (Minneapolis), Dion Johnson (Phoenix), Rayshard Brooks (Atlanta), Carlos Ingram Lopez (in Tucson) and others at the hands of law enforcement officers and the out-sized police response to the George Floyd/Black Lives Matter protests around the country. Also, don’t get me started about my fears for the widening achievement gap between K-12 students whose parents have a reliable Internet connection and adequate computing power for online learning and the students who don’t.
All of these systems were broken before COVID19. The pandemic and related system failures tell us we can no longer ignore and enable the structural racism, sexism, and widespread discrimination in our systems and laws. Excuse my language, but this sh*t’s gotta change. Now is the time to strategize for a better, more equitable, more inclusive future. Where are the wizards to help us re-imagine our country and create the vision?
Continue reading Where Are the COVID19 Wizards to Help Us Re-Imagine Ourselves & Our Future? (video)
The Legislative District 9 Team — Senator Victoria Steele and Reps. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley — held a virtual town hall on Thursday, June 18. In order to avoid being hacked again, this event required preregistration and other precautions. The 100 free tickets went fast. Unfortunately, the security measures created a barrier for some of the attendees. Hopefully, we can create a happy medium with our next online event.
The June town hall followed the same format as previous events. Each of us gave a 10 minute presentation on a specific topic, followed buy a question and answer period. There are four parts to the video series from the June 18 Legislative District 9 Virtual Town Hall on COVID19 in Arizona. In part one, Friese discusses the status of the pandemic and the importance of wearing face masks. In part two, Steele discusses housing challenges, evictions, and police reform. In part three, Powers Hannley discusses the Arizona Department of Education’s plans to open up Arizona’s K-12 schools. Part four is 30 minutes of questions and answers on a variety of topics.
Continue reading Did You Miss the June LD9 Town Hall? Check Out the Videos (video)