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)
The Legislative District 9 Team– Senator Victoria Steele, Rep. Randy Friese, and myself– held our first virtual town hall on Thursday, April 30, 2020. Except for getting hacked at the end [more on that below], it was a great meeting. Many LD9 precinct committee people were on the call. Over the course of the hour, 125 people jumped on the virtual meeting, and for most of the meeting there were close to 90 participants. If you have been to one of our town halls, we’re lucky to get 25 people, so the attendance was amazing, as far as we are concerned. If you were unable to attend online, I broke the town hall into three videos. You can view them below the fold.
Continue reading LD9 #COVID19 Town Hall on Testing, Unemployment & the #AZ Budget (video)
Since it’s Wednesday, I am wearing red, and today’s video about public education funding.
Yesterday, I was filling out an endorsement questionnaire, and one of the questions was: do you support raising sales taxes to pay for public education?￼
This question is so January 2020. When we were in session, there was much discussion about extending Prop 301 (Governor Jan Brewer’s “temporary sales tax to save public education”) and raising it to one cent.
This is April 29, 2020. The novel Coronavirus is running rampant throughout the United States and throughout the state of Arizona. We are seeing firsthand what a bad idea it is to balance the state budget on the backs of consumers. Arizona has high sales taxes and low corporate taxes compared to other states. With the shelter in place order and high unemployment, sales and sales taxes are down across the board. Consequently, state and local revenues are down across the board.￼
Arizona has one of the most volatile state budgets in the country because if it’s over reliance on sales tax– coupled with low corporate income taxes, billions of dollars in corporate tax giveaways, and lack of a state property tax.￼ When regular folks don’t have cash to spend, the whole state suffers because the government is relying on YOU to buy stuff and pay tax on those sales. Corporate Arizona… not so much… besides low corporate income taxes, they regularly ask for and get TPT (sales tax) breaks from the Arizona Legislature. Remember this story from the beginning of session: Microsoft Wants a Sales Tax Break Because ‘Electricity Is Too Expensive in Arizona’ (video).
Continue reading #COVID19 Shows #AZ that Over Reliance on Sales Tax Is Bad Policy (video)
For the politicians and businesses who are in a hurry to open up Arizona’s economy… SOON… the data, the computer models, and the small-government Arizona Way are not on your side.
Arizonans are suffering through a perfect storm of economic, ideological and medical circumstances that are working against us as our state government limply responds to the Coronavirus outbreak. First and most glaring, Arizona’s small-government Republican governors and legislators have been cutting taxes for corporations and the rich and balancing the budget on the backs of the people for decades. This has resulted in:
- One of the most volatile state budgets in the country
- An over-reliance on high sales taxes at state and local levels
- Extremely low corporate taxes
- Annual budgets riddled with corporate carveouts and tax giveaways
- Economic vulnerability when there are interruptions in retail sales
- Wages that are 85% of the national average
- Far too many residents holding multiple gig economy jobs
- Stingy social safety net programs (TANF, childcare subsidies, pre- and post- natal care, housing assistance)
- High poverty
- Underfunded public health, public education, and higher education systems
- Statewide healthcare provider shortages
- Counties declared as healthcare deserts
- The worst rate of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in the US
- The least transparent state Legislature.
So… even before the novel Coronavirus hit the planet, many Arizonans were living on the edge economically, thanks to the Republican Party’s fixation with small, stingy government, privatization, deregulation, and tax giveaways. Add the state’s slow response to the COVID19 pandemic to the ideological economic mess we were already in, thanks to years of austerity, and it’s obvious why Arizona’s COVID19 cases are still increasing and getting “back to business” isn’t happening soon.
Continue reading Computer Models Predict Dire #COVID19 Conditions for #AZ Residents & Prisoners (video)
Thanks so much to Greer Warren, Merrill Eisenberg, and everyone who has been volunteering for weeks to make 1000s of cloth face masks to give away.
You may have heard that the Arizona Legislature has been called back to work on May1 (next Friday). On Thursday, the word on the street was that the Senate Democrats and Republicans wanted to come in on May 1, sine die (end the session), and come back in the future for a special session on the coronavirus and related budget issues.
Many House Dems and an unknown number of House Republicans agreed with that plan. I agree with that plan; I also am open to passing a limited number of consensus bills that are related to COVID19, help the people, and have support of at least 3/4 of House members.
The drama among Republican Legislators last week was the rift between House Republicans who wanted to do a week’s worth of committee hearings (without public testimony) and a week of floor debate to pass some more of their bills– and the vast majority of the rest if us who want to end the session and go into a special COVID19 response session later when public health and budgetary needs are clearer. (For the record, the Legislature appropriate $55 million from the skinny budget and $50 million from the Rainy Day fund for COVID19, and the feds have given Arizona billions to fight the virus. The problem is that the decisions are being made by an ice cream salesman– and not by the state’s disaster response chief, who resigned a few weeks ago.)
Between the three of us, Merrill, Greer and I volunteered to make 30 masks for House Democrats and staff if we have to be there on May 1. Phoenix volunteers are also making some masks.
I don’t think it’s going to be safe in the Arizona House without a mask, gloves and social distancing. They have guaranteed that there will be social distancing on the floor. Some members will be voting remotely from home or from their offices. My plan is to be on the floor, wearing mask and gloves. Hopefully, people won’t try to drag this out with partisan vanity bills– like voter suppression, racing, license plates or tax giveaways.
We should be focused on the tasks at hand and the safety of the people of Arizona– not on passing vanity bills and corporate carveouts.
Forty percent of Arkansas’ COVID19 cases are prisoners. In a Marion, Ohio prison, more than 1800 prisoners and 100 guards have tested positive for novel Coronavirus. That is 73% of the inmates in that prison. Although prisons and jails are hotspots for the novel Coronavirus across the country, Arizona has no clue what in happening in our prisons with COVID19.
We have tested only 0.4% of the 41,594 prisoners in Arizona. NONE of the nearly 5000 women at the Perryville prison have been tested. Only six of the 5000 prisoners in the Yuma prison have been tested. Arizona is in the dark about the extent of the novel Coronavirus spread in our prison system, and Governor Ducey and the Department of Corrections (DOC) are making no moves toward improving the situation or the lack of transparency. The DOC has a dashboard up, but the data are minimalist.
In addition to not knowing what’s going on in the prisons, there is no transparency in the Arizona data related to COVID19 in long-term care facilities. In New York, 25% of the COVID19 cases are in long-term care (LTC) facilities including the senior living centers. Arizona long-term care providers tell me they are providing data to federal, state and county governments, but those data are not on the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) website.
The people of Arizona are being kept in the dark about COVID19 in prisons and LTC centers. Many of us have loved ones in an assisted living center, a nursing home, a skilled nursing facility, a jail, or a prison– or who work there.
Until we know the extent of infection in these high-risk facilities, we have no idea what the spread of the novel coronavirus is in the state of Arizona. The caregivers and prison guards are unknowingly working with infected patients and inmates without protective gear. This situation puts prisoners, guards and all of their families at risk.
Continue reading Prison & Long-Term Care #COVID19 Data Needed to Judge Virus Spread in #AZ (video)