Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Senate passes Rep. Steele's HB 2553

Senate Committee of the Whole passes Rep. Cardenas' HB 2240

Monday, March 30, 2015

Senate Committee of the Whole passes Rep. Steele's HB 2553

Democrats Urge President Obama to Protect the Grand Canyon's watershed as a National Monument

Democrats recently sent this letter to President Barack Obama urging him to protect the Grand Canyon's watershed as a National Monument. 

Republicans pushing voucher bills, jeopardizing public schools

Not only does the Republican’s new budget jeopardize our state’s economic future by cutting critical funding from K-12 public schools, they continue to push bills that will syphon additional money from public education.

Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) and School Tuition Organizations (STO) are two of the better-disguised methods Republican leaders use to divert money away from our public schools. Arizona’s public schools are still funded below pre-recession levels, and instead of investing in education Republican leaders have prioritized private school voucher programs above the public district schools that educate more than 80 percent of Arizona school children.

This session, Republican legislators have made several attempts to expand ESAs and STOs. Every one of the following bills was introduced by a legislator who voted for the budget:

ESA & STO bills
Estimated Cost 
  • HB 2152
  • HB 2174
  • SB 1088
  • SB 1332
  • SB 1434
  • $1.6 million
  • $230,000
  • $5,200 per student
  • $50,000
  • $160,000
These bills together would cost Arizona more than $3 million each year beginning in fiscal year 2017

Republican rhetoric about increasing classroom spending rings hollow after they have  systematically disinvested from schools - leaving teachers with outdated or no textbooks, schools in disrepair, and classroom sizes growing. Fully funding inflation would give schools an extra $246 per student that could be used for teacher salaries and other classroom spending, but our Republican leaders continue to fight against meeting that obligation.

State leaders have a constitutional and moral responsibility to support the public education system that serves a vast majority of Arizona’s students. But instead of fulfilling this responsibility, they turn away from it. This legislative session, thousands of Arizonans voiced their support for public education. If we keep making noise, eventually the Republicans will have to listen.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

A link to video of the full event is coming soon!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rep. Alston criticizes attempts to make it illegal for some people to collect early ballots

Alston criticizes attempts to make it illegal for some people to collect early ballots

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXRep. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix (District 24), voted no on a last-minute amendment to SB 1339 in the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, saying that the bill will punish people for civic engagement. A bill with the same language faced bipartisan opposition and failed last week.

“This reckless process to pass legislation is leading to bad policies that are going to negatively impact our vulnerable populations,” said Alston. “It will criminalize teachers for working in their communities to improve schools, and make it more difficult for the elderly, disabled, poor and disadvantaged to vote.”

Opponents argue that this bill offers a solution in search of a problem and that there is no evidence that the voter fraud the legislation claims to prevent even exists. Alston added that the legislation is also unnecessary because current law makes tampering with a ballot illegal. Republicans passed SB 1339.

“This bill goes way too far, making felons of those trying to improve their community based on speculation of voter fraud when there is no evidence it exists,” said Alston.