Arizona has a history of electing women to public office. In 1932, Arizona elected Isabella Greenway to the US House of Representatives. In 1972, State Senator Sandra Day O’Connor was the first female president of the Arizona Senate. In 1998, Arizona voters elected five women to run the state government— Jane Hull (Governor), Betsy Bayless (Secretary of State), Janet Napolitano (Attorney General), Carol Springer (Treasurer), and Lisa Graham-Keegan (Superintendent of Public Instruction). To this date, Arizona’s Fab Five remain the most number of women elected to state government at the same time. In 2017, the Arizona Legislature had the highest percentage of women (40 percent) of any state Legislature in the Country.
Most of the woman who won are Democrats but not all. In the Congressional races, US Senate was won by Kyrsten Sinema (D), Ann Kirkpatrick (D) took CD2, and Debby Lesko (R) was re-elected to CD8. On the statewide level, women took: Secretary of State (Katie Hobbs, D), Treasurer (Kimbery Yee, R), Superintendent of Public Instruction (Kathy Hoffman, D) and one of the Arizona Corporation Commission seats (Sandra Kennedy).
#RedForEd lifted the veil from our eyes and put the issue of corporate tax giveaways front and center in the fight to restore public education funding in Arizona.
As many of you are aware, the Arizona Legislature is giving away more than $13 billion in taxes every year and using only $10 billion to run the state. It is not sound fiscal policy to use accounting gimmicks and 50 fund transfers to “balance” the budget. It is no surprise that the state owes K-12 education around $1 billion. Thanks to scheduled corporate tax cuts passed by the Tea Party*, beginning in 2011, Arizona’s corporations got to keep an extra $1 billion in 2017. These corporate tax cuts continue through 2019, even though we can’t afford them.
As a result of the anger and frustration that many Tucsonans feel about the Arizona Legislature’s performance, the Stop Thief! Let’s Restore Fair Taxes Community Forum drew a standing room only crowd of diverse participants. The event was hosted by the Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF) and Progressive Democrats of America (PDA Tucson), with support from many other unions and community groups.
Heart-felt testimonies from current high school students, who explained how school budget cuts have impacted their lives and their schools, opened the forum.
LD9 Rep. Randy Friese gave a detailed presentation on tax revenue and how it has been siphoned off by special interest groups and corporate tax cuts for decades. (Video after the jump.)
My talk focused on specific tax giveaway votes in the 53rd Legislature. focused specific tax giveaway bills and the drama that swirled around the bills that passed and the ones that failed. (Video after the jump.) Excluding any votes related to budget appropriations, all of the tax giveaway votes in the 53rd Legislature were bipartisan— with Democrats and Republicans on both sides.
The Legislature’s mindset on tax giveaways shifted from January 2017– when two Progressive Democrats made a pact to vote against every tax giveaway until the schools were fully funded– to budget night in May 2018. The Progressive viewpoint was: If the state “can’t afford” to fully fund K-12 public education (due to self-imposed austerity), then we “can’t afford” to give away or excuse any more taxes until the schools are on stable footing and fully funded. Thanks to the #RedForEd movement, on budget night 2018, hundreds of teachers, parents, and supporters filled the House gallery and the Capitol lawn and demanded that public education take priority over corporate tax cuts.
As I mentioned in my talk, a thorough tax giveaway review bill and several tax reform or repeal bills were proposed in the Legislature in 2018. Unfortunately, due to the gamesmanship at the Capitol, these bills were not heard because they were proposed by Democrats: Senator Steve Farley and Reps. Mark Cardenas, Randy Friese, and Pamela Powers Hannley.
It’s time to review all of the tax cuts, tax exemptions, tax credits, tax subtractions, and other tax loopholes. Some of these tax giveaways benefit narrow interests– to the detriment of the general fund and the general public. We must determine which tax exemptions benefit the people of Arizona (like the TPT exemptions for food and prescription drugs); which ones benefit special interest groups (like gold bullion enthusiasts); which ones benefit individual corporations (like the infamous four-inch pipe); which ones we are effective and affordable; and how we can spark economic development without breaking our budget and starving all of our educational institutions, as we are now.
Several people told me that they felt hopeful after my talk because so many costly tax giveaways were stopped on a bipartisan vote. If fact, all of the tax giveaway votes were bipartisan— with Democrats and Republicans on both sides. This is why it is important to ask every candidate in the 2018 election what their stance is on tax giveaways, the #RedForEd movement, the Invest In Ed Citizens Initiative (to secure long-term funding for K-12), and the Outlaw Dirty Money Citizens Initiative. Will these candidates fight for the people or will they “take the money and run”?
I won’t be downtown for the birthday party because I am giving a talk on the Equal Rights Amendment on Saturday night in Tubac, but I hope you all will check out the festivities and the live music on the streetcar and along the route. Here are a few photos and a video from opening day.
We had a great crowd of about 50 people who came out for the Tanque Verde Democrats LD9 Forum on May 12. For those of you who couldn’t make it, my husband Jim manned me video camera, and we taped the whole thing.
You can watch the forum videos, as well as my one-minute updates and selected Arizona House Floor Videos on my YouTube Channel here. (There is also a link to subscribe if you want to follow me on YouTube.) Below the fold are the videos from the meeting. If you are wondering what that red cone is in several of the videos, it is a flag on an audience member’s wheelchair. At first when I saw the raw video footage, I thought, “Who was wearing a tiny red party hat?” Check out the videos after the jump.
I never imagined how wildly popular these videos would be. At the Capitol, #RedForEd advocates would randomly come up to me and say, “I love your videos!” Now that I am back in Tucson, people come up to me at events, at church and in stores, and say, “I love your videos!”
So… I will be keeping them up during the interim.
My first interim video is on the passage of dental therapy. To catch up, I am doing a few videos on some of the bills we passed in a flurry at the end of the 53rd Session last week.
On the very last day, we passed dental therapy as a striker on another bill. I played an integral role in getting dental therapy out of the sunrise committee hearing last fall. I believe it is good public health policy because it will offer affordable dental care in rural and urban areas. This will expand access to care, prevent tooth loss and offer a new career to residents of Arizona.
To Learn more about why dental therapy is important, you can read:
For the second year in a row, Arizona House Democrats used the “ninja parliamentary move” to force a vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). For the second year in a row, House Republicans chose to hide under their desks– rather than making history by ratifying the ERA.
In 2017, two Republican women, Reps. Michelle Ugenti-Rita and Heather Carter, voted for women’s rights, along with all of the House Democrats. For the 2018 vote, Ugenti-Rita and Carter were missing in action.
Zero Republicans voted for equal pay or equal rights for women.
People in suits chat in the halls, meet behind closed doors, debate on the floor, talk on camera, and vote to change our laws and our lives. News happens everyday at the Arizona Capitol, and on some days there is a perfect storm of debates, votes, protests, and intrigue.
To capture the spirit of the action in my own way, I have started recording daily one-minute video updates from the Arizona Legislature.
To date, I have posted 18 one-minute video updates on individual bills or hot topics of the day from the Capitol. These daily videos have been so popular on Facebook and Instagram, that I am cross-posting the entire collection on YouTube, so links can be more easily shared. Check out my YouTube page here. (You can subscribe to my YouTube channel and receive update notifications automatically.)
Stay tuned on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and this blog for more video updates through the interim and the election. Thanks for your support. If you live in my district and have not signed my petition, please do so here. Thanks!
The Tucson Festival of Books brings hundreds of authors to Tucson each year. For politicos, one of the hottest tickets at the Book Festival is author and historian John Nichols of The Nation.
If you want to hear Nichols speak in an informal setting– away from the Book Festival crowds, come to the IBEW Hall on Saturday night, March 10. Progressive Democrats of America (PDA Tucson) and the Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF) are hosting their annual An Evening with John Nichols. I am proud to be the warm-up act for Nichols again this year. Doors open at 6 p.m.
If you are a Progressive and you have never heard Nichols speak, you should make time for this evening talk. I had the pleasure of meeting Nichols years ago at a PDA retreat in Winslow, Arizona. Since then, I have heard him speak and videotaped him many times.
Today, January 20, 2016, President Barack Obama became our former president.
Today, Donald Trump entered the office of president with the worst approval rating ever– 40%.
For many months, different groups have been planning post-inauguration protests, teach-ins, marches, and other activism to greet the new president. (After all, many groups were alienated by him during his campaign, and we’re motivated.)
On Saturday, January 21– here in Tucson and nationwide–women (and others) will be marching in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. (Background below.) The Tucson event will start at 10 a.m. at Armory Park, and attendees will march to the main library downtown for booths, speeches and festivities. (Details here.)
The theme of the nationwide march is: “Become the soul of the nation.” This is taken from a quote by Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” – Coretta Scott King
We can’t continue to be depressed and bitter about the election. It’s time to push against the forces that want to keep us down. What better way to start the new year and the newest phase of the struggle than to march in solidarity, build community, and fight for equal rights?
To that end, I submitted a bill to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) on January 12. HCR2012 is the House bill, and Senator Martin Quezada submitted the same bill in the Arizona Senate (SCR1003).
The ERA needs only three states to ratify it before it can become the next amendment to the US Constitution, and Arizona is one of the 15 states that never passed it. Former Supreme Court Justice and former Arizona Legislator Sandra Day O’Connor was the first person to propose passage of the ERA in Arizona back in the 1970s. It’s time to finish the job. The ERA was originally proposed in 1923, and women need Constitutional protection now more than ever.
Unfortunately, the House version of the ERA is currently wallowing on Speaker J.D. Mesnard’s desk and has not been assigned to a committee. (Bills are killed by not being assigned to a committee, by being voted down in committee or by being voted down on the House or Senate floor. The Senate bill has been assigned to government and rules. You can use the Request to Speak system if it gets on the agenda or comment any time via email and telephone.)
The ERA deserves to be heard in committee and debated on the floor of the Arizona House and the Arizona Senate. If you agree, please call or email your representatives and senators and urge them to support ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Women will not have equal pay or full equal rights in the US without passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Even at the highest income levels, women make less than men. Overall, Latinas and African American women make far less. This is a societal economic issue; it’s not a “women’s issue.” When 51% of the population makes less than the prevailing wage, that suppresses the economy statewide and nationwide. When people have money in their pockets, the economy thrives. When people are scraping by due to low wages and high debt, the economy lags. It’s time to turn this ship around and give women equality and Constitutional protection.
For more than a year now, I have been running for the Legislature to serve Legislative District 9 in the Arizona House.
Along the campaign trail, I have met 1000s of you at community events, like the Hunger Walk, Cyclovia, the Garden District Porch Fest, the Labor Day picnic, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march, the Peace Fair, Poetry Center activities, and other events.
I’ve met you at dozens of house parties and coffees with the candidate events.
I’ve met you at meetings like Democrats of Greater Tucson, the Nucleus Club, the Democratic Party State Committee meetings, and the LD9 meetings.
I’ve seen your creativity when I stopped at your doorsteps, and I’ve heard your passion at rallies.
I understand you because I am one of you. I’m a Mom and a Grandma. I worked in a factory, in a laundry, on a landscape crew, and as a waitress. I have climbed the corporate career ladder, and I’ve been laid off.
I want to be your voice– the voice of workers and families– in the Arizona Legislature because I believe too many lawmakers represent big corporations and not the people of Arizona.