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)
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)
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)
Arizona House Democrats made a substitute motion to suspend the rules and bring HCR2010 Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to an immediate vote today (May 19, 2021). Republicans have been bringing us to the floor for one or two votes for several days in a row while they work their backroom budget deals, far from watchful eyes of voters, reporters and Democrats.
The Floor drama went a bit differently than the ERA vote has in past years. The newly elected Democratic women Legislators really wanted to propose the ERA. I agreed and said it would be better if someone else made the motion, this year since they’re on to me after four years of motions. Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham didn’t recognize Rep. Melody Hernandez, but a few minutes later, just as Majority Leader Ben Toma made the motion to adjourn, Grantham recognized mild mannered, former school teacher Rep. Judy Schwiebert, who rose to make a substitute motion to suspend the rules to bring HCR2010 to a vote. Republicans didn’t try to substitute her substitute motion. Consequently, we voted on the Schwiebert amendment, unlike other years. (Later Grantham said he goofed on the parliamentary procedures; Toma’s motion to adjourn should have taken precedent.)
This has been a tough year for women in the Legislature with multiple attacks on our rights, passage of the Draconian anti-abortion bill SB1457, and no additional funding for housing, maternal and child health, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). In this toxic, anti-woman environment, I think it is only fitting to propose ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
The vast majority of people living in poverty in Arizona and in the US are women and their children. Why are we purposefully shortchanging future generations by forcing working mothers to struggle to put food on the table and a roof over their heads?
Continue reading Arizona Republicans Vote Down ERA (video)
The 55th Legislative First Session has been filled with crazy, right-wing ideological bills attacking voting rights, reproductive rights, patients, doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, teachers, engineers, professionals, unions, public education, the Permanent Early Voting List, the Citizens Initiative, Clean Elections, and transparency in campaign finance. Adding insult to injury, these bad bills are passing on party line votes￼ — often with little or no debates and no public input. This is tyranny of the minority. Yes, Republicans are in the majority with 31 members in the House compared to the Democrats 29, but these extremist views are not held by the majority of Arizonans.
Wednesday was Cinco de Mayo and the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Given the importance of this day to other cultures, it is appalling that we would spend most of the day debating bills that would limit speech regarding racism, sexism and other “controversial issues” in schools (SB1532) and in government, including community colleges (SB1074). The floor debates for these two bills lasted at least five hours. The Democrats offered many eloquent speeches, while the Republicans insisted they aren’t racist. In addition to limiting speech, SB1532 also bans critical race theory and would make it difficult — if not impossible — for schools to use programs like the 1619 Project.
Continue reading Cinco de Mayo in #AZLeg: House Passes Bills Attacking Free Speech (video)
For years, Arizona￼ has been one of the worst states in the country for affordable housing.
A recent research survey, published in March 2021, ranked Tucson #1 in the world for worst change in property affordability, with Phoenix coming in #7. The survey by Online Mortgage Advisors reported on housing affordability in 200 US cities over the past five years. It shows that “house prices have quickly become unaffordable for workers making average wages for their specific city,” according to a report by KOLD TV.
In the five years that I have been in the Legislature, affordable housing has been a hot topic which generated a lot of talk and a fair number of Democratic bills but not much Legislation that made it to the finish line. (Heaven forbid that any meaningful Democratic legislation would be signed into law — regardless of how much it would help the people of Arizona.) Unfortunately, little has been done to raise stingy benefits for the poor and the unemployed OR to tackle homelessness, housing affordability, or evictions. One positive step by the Legislature was restoration of partial funding to the Housing Trust Fund. (Also worth noting: thank goodness the voters raised the minimum wage in 2016, or Arizona residents’ income to housing ratio cost would be even worse.)
In the five years the Legislature has been talking about housing, affordability has gotten significantly worse in the state’s two major cities.￼ The video below discusses two bad bills from the past that have contributed to Phoenix and Tucson becoming less affordable. These bills should be repealed.￼ It also includes four current housing-related bills in the Legislature.
Continue reading Arizona Needs a Comprehensive Approach to Affordable Housing (video)