Is $1 Billion in New Tax Giveaways Too Much? (video)

AZ Tax Breaks

Crossover week– when hundreds of bad bills are pushed through both houses– is always difficult. In addition to four 12-hour days this past week, Democrats had the extra pressure of trying to stop the tax giveaway parade before it dances off the cliff with our state’s future.

I used to call these tax giveaways fiscally irresponsible, but with 18 tax breaks poised to pass the Arizona House and more coming our way from the Senate, we have crossed the line into insanity. Of the 18 tax giveaways, 11 have some cost estimate. Those 11 total close to $500,000 annually in new tax breaks starting next fiscal year; there are another 7 tax breaks with unknown costs. They’re not free; the Joint Legislative Budget Commission (JLBC) doesn’t know how to estimate their cost. You can read more detail about these bills these three articles herehere, and here. With so many unknowns, if they all pass, Arizona could be looking at $1 billion in new tax giveaways (AKA lost revenue) in next fiscal year or in the near future, since several of them automatically increase over time, and it takes a two-thirds majority to repeal any of them.

Continue reading Is $1 Billion in New Tax Giveaways Too Much? (video)

Arizona Republicans Attack Voting Rights & Clean Elections (video)

Clean Elections

Some aspects of the Arizona legislature are highly predictable– like the ideological bills from the left and the right that are proposed to show where members stand on the issues.

For the Republicans, attacks on Clean Elections, voting rights, and the Citizens Initiative are perennial favorites. There are multiple bills based upon voter suppression and unnecessary election tinkering from Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita (SB1014, SB1020, SB1032, SB1092, and SB1520) and House Elections Committee Chair Rep. Kelly Townsend (HB2043, HB2267, HB2268, HB2305, HB2306, HB2307, HB2308, HB2364, and HB2647). Although I do not have bill numbers, I hear that there are bad ballot referrals attacking the Citizens Initiative process and Independent Redistricting.

As in 2019, Rep. Leo Biasiucci from LD5 in Mohave County is carrying the anti-Clean Elections torch. Two years in a row, he proposed a bill to limit the independent watchdog function of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) by putting it under the Governor’s Regulatory Review Commission (GRRC), a political entity packed with Governor Ducey’s appointees. That bill narrowly lost in 2019 and is back again as HB2054 in 2020. It was debated in Committee of the Whole (COW) on Feb12 and will come up for a vote soon.

Biasiucci’s a second bad bill (HB2055), according to Legislative staff, would eliminate 80% of Clean Elections funding.

Why does Biasiucci hate Clean Elections? Why do Ugenti-Rita and Townsend attack voting rights… annually? Because they fear another Blue Wave in 2020. Republicans want to put roadblocks up against any Democratic paths to victory rather than compete on a level playing field of ideas.

Biasiucci is a freshman. He replaced one-term freshman Republican Rep. Paul “Lead Foot” Moseley in 2018. Biasiucci knows that his next opponent– whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat– who would likely run clean against him. In 2020, 35 Legislative candidates are running clean– 17 Republicans, 17 Democrats, and one Independent. Of those 35, only the five most Progressive Democrats run clean as incumbents: Senators Juan Mendez and Andrea Dalessandro and Reps. Athena Salmon, Isela Blanc, and me.  The Legislature is fueled by big-money politics and dirty money donations; the idea that anyone would dare to buck the the dirty money system is an anathema.

You’ll remember that in 2019 as a freshman, Biasiucci proposed several bills requiring driving school because, of course, his family owns a driving school. He’s not the only one of the Republicans who proposed bills that would directly benefit their businesses. (David Gordon of Blog for Arizona wrote about this.) He also fought to add a driving school requirement to teach people not to text and drive.

Every year when the Republicans attack Clean Elections, it’s my job to stand up and remind everybody that the citizens created the Clean Elections Commission with a Citizens Initiative. It was a direct response to corruption in the Arizona Legislature in the 1990s. The Maricopa County attorney’s office did a sting operation called AZSCAM. It made national news when several Arizona legislators (from both sides of the aisle) were charged with bribery and money laundering. Then Speaker of the House Jane Hull removed them from their seats and their chairmanships. Some of them were charged. The Legislature passed campaign finance reforms back then, and the voters created the Citizens Clean Elections Commission. The process to run as a clean candidate, CCEC’s voter education efforts, and the CCEC’s independent campaign finance watchdog functions were created in direct response to corruption in the Legislature. During the Tea Party Reign of Terror, some of those reforms were eliminated, campaign donations were dramatically increased, and Clean Elections was weakened repeatedly.

I’m sick of the Republican Party’s nationwide strategy of “if you can’t win, cheat” with voter suppression, gerrymandering, dirty money, and zero transparency.

Besides ignoring the will of the voters, the Republican Party is marching backwards and trying to drag the rest of us with them. Do you want our elections to be controlled by money or voters? Please voice your opinion on these bills on the Request to Speak System (RTS).

Protect Your Voting Rights by Backing the Fair Elections Act on Nov 3

If you want to protect your voting rights, make it easier to register to vote, and update Clean Elections, please support the Fair Elections Act, sponsored by the Arizona Advocacy Network. This Citizens Initiative will be on the 2020 ballot; signatures are being collected now.

LD9 Candidate Forum: July 14 (video)

Nucleus Club

If you missed the LD9 match-up a few weeks ago when we had the Clean Elections debate, you’re in luck. The Nucleus Club is hosting an LD9 forum on Thursday, July 14. Schmoozing starts at 5:30 at the Viscount, with the forum from 6-7 p.m. This is the third candidate forum that Nucleus has hosted this election season. Both the LD10 match-up and the Pima County School Superintendent forum were well-attended with 50-60 people.

At least one of my opponents doesn’t have many public opinions — so this is a good opportunity to learn where all of the candidates stand on the issues. (Nucleus allows the audience to submit questions, BTW.)

Here’s the Clean Elections video. (If you want to skip around to the high points, go to this recap post.)

Money, Money, Money… Setting the Record Straight

Pamela Powers Hannley

A recent political blurb in the Arizona Daily Star said that I had raised less money than the LD9 appointee:

In LD 9, a more expected pattern has held: Incumbents Randy Friese and Matt Kopec hold the fundraising advantage over challenger Pamela Powers Hannley. Friese reported raising $43,491, Kopec raised $11,566, and Hannley, also running as a clean elections candidate, reported raising $4,777 before her public money kicks in.

The problem with this statement is that my public funds have already kicked in. After expenses, I have nearly double the amount of money the appointee has– $9763 vs $17,780— and I will receive an additional $24,066 after the primary. How much will the appointee be able to raise dialing for dollars?

Clean Elections candidates must spend all of their funds or send them back. Consequently, you’ll be seeing my yard signs and banners soon. I’ve also got a postcard mailing and testimonial videos from supporters in the works. In addition, I have several coffee with the candidate events and two house parties coming up. Watch this blog and my campaign’s Facebook page for announcements. (Also– remember– when I invite you to an event, it’s not to get money from you. It’s to have a conversation.) Stay tuned!

To set the campaign finance record straight, I sent this letter to the editor, which the Star printed on Sunday.

Continue reading Money, Money, Money… Setting the Record Straight