Monday, April 14, 2014

House supports HJR 2002

House supports HJR 2002

Republicans consistently push wrong priorities in the House

Republicans consistently push wrong priorities in the House

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – After passing a disappointing, shortsighted budget, House Republicans continue to ignore pressing issues, including child safety and public education, choosing instead to focus on matters that do not move the priorities of the state forward.

“The Republicans have made bad choices throughout this legislative session,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), said. “House Democrats had a plan that would keep Arizona’s budget balanced and would support public education so all our kids could have access to schools that would ensure they’re prepared for college and the workforce. The Republicans ignored this plan, choosing partisanship over the priorities of the people. They continue to claim that we do not have the resources to adequately fund public education. At the same time, they tried to get nearly a million additional dollars for private prisons this year. Think of what a school district could do with that money. Choices like this show that the Republicans here are out of touch.”

Assistant House Minority Leader Bruce Wheeler, D-Tucson (District 10), added that instead of trying to solve the child safety issues plaguing the state, Republicans wasted time on legislation like SB 1062.

“Our state is struggling to recover from a recession and, instead of promoting legislation that would create jobs and attract business to Arizona, the extremists at the Capitol put their energy into fast-tracking SB 1062, a discriminatory bill that took direct aim at the LGBTQ community and cities like Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff that have expanded civil rights protections,” Wheeler said. “Not only was this bill offensive, but it threatened our state’s economic stability. It was clear that this legislation was bad for business, and that was reinforced by a number of companies including Intel, Apple, JPMorgan Chase, GoDaddy and PetSmart that voiced opposition to SB 1062.

“Although the Republicans rushed SB 1062 through the process, they were not able to sneak it by the public, and it was vetoed. It does, however, serve as an indication of what is important to Republicans - their partisan agenda. They also just passed a budget that fails to provide funding to hire enough child welfare caseworkers. At the beginning of the session, the Republicans claimed that solving the CPS crisis was a priority. Around 6,000 reports of neglect and abuse went uninvestigated partially because there weren’t enough caseworkers after years of Republican budget cuts. But they passed a budget that did not include enough money to increase the number of caseworkers. We know the situation is dire now. We should not be waiting to find solutions in a special session later this year.”

House Minority Whip Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), said the Republicans made choices that reflect their values.

“The state’s budget is the most direct indication of our values. The Republican budget shows that they value an ideological agenda above all else. They have prioritized funding for special interests over child safety and education. This is unacceptable, especially considering that Arizona has the second highest child welfare caseload growth in the country and our schools are still dealing with the $3 billion cut from their budgets since 2008.

“The Republicans had other options. There were real solutions on the table, but they made the wrong choice and opted for promoting partisanship over what would work for our state. The bottom line is that we should be demanding more for our children, our schools and our state.”


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

House Democrats protecting public schools

Public education in our state is in jeopardy, and Arizona House Democrats are working to stop tax dollars from being syphoned out of the public school system.

Rep. Mach on protecting public schools

Extremists at the Capitol are pushing legislation that could pull millions of dollars out of our public schools through the use of student tuition organizations and a private school voucher program called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, which were developed by the Goldwater Institute and supported by the Center for Arizona Policy. ESAs do little more than continue the attack on public schools that extremists at the Capitol have waged for years. 

Rep. Quezada on protecting public schools

Since 2009, Republicans have cut about $3 billion from education. We can’t afford to continue to starve Arizona schools. Our state is working its way back from an economic crisis. We should be investing in a foundation that will protect our future. But the Republicans here have other priorities – like trying to get almost a million extra dollars for private prisons in our state.

If we want our kids to be ready for college and to compete in a global economy, we have to make sure they are prepared. That means funding our public schools and investing in the Common Core so all kids have the skills necessary to compete for 21st century jobs. It also means making sure our teachers have the resources they need to do their jobs.

Please join us in helping to stop these attacks on public education. 

Rep. Alston on protecting public schools

Monday, April 07, 2014

Republicans pass shortsighted budget that protects status quo instead of state’s priorities

Republicans pass shortsighted budget that protects status quo instead of state’s priorities

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Whip Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), who represented the House Democrats in the budget conference committees, released this statement about the budget Republicans passed in the Arizona House and which is scheduled for a vote in the Arizona Senate tonight.

“The budget Republicans passed today is a disappointment. It is shortsighted and fails to move the priorities of the state forward. The Republicans at the Legislature consistently make the wrong choices for the state and our children, and they continued this trend by prioritizing tax cuts and funding for special interests. All this budget does is protect the status quo.

“Earlier this year, Arizona House Democrats proposed a balanced budget that would have funded public K-12 schools and higher education. Our schools have had to deal with some of the deepest budget cuts in the nation. Their budgets have been slashed by $3 billion since 2008. Now that Arizona is working its way out of the economic recession, we must reinvest in education. That investment should also include higher education and help for students struggling to pay college tuition.

“The current budget bows to extremists by not funding Common Core implementation. These standards are in place to prepare our students for college and for the workforce. It also lacks adequate funding for universities, further jeopardizing our students’ ability to compete in the global economy.

“The Democrats’ proposal also included $193 million for child safety and health and human services. This money would have been used to restore preventative services, like the childcare subsidy, so that working families would have access to reliable, safe childcare. The funding would also have provided enough money to hire child welfare caseworkers to handle the growing caseloads in this state. Arizona has the second highest caseload growth in the country and we’ve seen the tragic results of underfunding this crucial safety net. This is not an issue that can wait until a special session.

“There were other options and other choices, but partisanship prevailed today. Our kids, our schools and our state deserve better.”

Democrats in the House and the Senate have submitted a minority report formally protesting this budget.


Native American Caucus meeting focuses on transportation issues

Native American Caucus meeting focuses on
transportation issues

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Arizona Legislature’s Native American Caucus recently hosted a discussion on the transportation issues facing Native American Nations. Legislators heard presentations from experts on transportation funding and the expectations of indigenous communities.

The Division Director of the Navajo Division of Transportation, Paulson Chaco, gave an overview of what is needed to resolve the transportation issues in the Navajo Nation. The presentation focused on the need for road improvements. The majority of the Navajo Nation’s roads are unpaved which has resulted in variety of community problems. For example, some children miss school because busses often get stuck in the mud on rainy days. Chaco stated that the division of transportation is lacking adequate funding to deal with what he referred to as a transportation crisis.

Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3), shared her concerns about the transportation situation affecting education.

“When we have thousands of children riding two hours to school on bad roads and miss 20 days of school on average, due to road conditions, we have bigger problems!” Gonzales said.  “Let’s get to work on roads in Arizona!”

Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9), added that it is also important for indigenous leaders be included in the decision-making process.

“Arizona’s transportation infrastructure is in crisis, and nowhere is that crisis felt more than on Native American tribal lands,” Steele said.  “As we address these issues, we must do so with Native American representation at the table.”  

Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), agreed. He highlighted the importance of Indian nations having a seat at the table for road development decisions.

“Transportation is essential to the economic development of any area,” Hale said. “Roads and other transportation systems need our constant attention so they do not adversely affect economic development. Indian nations are part of the economy of the state of Arizona. It is, therefore, important that Indian nations have a seat at the table when road development planning takes place at the state level. Too many times, we hear about traffic accidents that result in fatalities because the roads on Indian nations are unsafe. The state needs to pay attention to the safety of its Native American citizens and work with Indian nations to address safety issues and provide economic development through transportation infrastructure development.”

The Assistant Director of the Arizona Department of Transportation, Kevin Biesty, also spoke about state funding for transportation and the importance of improving Arizona’s transportation system. He said that Arizona is poised to become a manufacturing powerhouse, and in order to benefit from new businesses, the state must invest in its transportation infrastructure.

Sen. Carlyle Begay, D-Ganado (District 7), said that investing in transportation is important to economic growth.

“Transportation is the tie that binds us together as a state and is the backbone of Arizona’s tribal communities by helping to drive growth, create jobs, and provide more livable communities. Our roads, bridges, and transit systems quite literally carry people across a network that supports a multitude of economic interests, including tourism, agriculture, energy production and manufacturing,” Begay said. “However, progress within Arizona’s tribal communities does not travel down dirt roads and broken bridges. There is a dire need for further investments in transportation infrastructure in both rural and tribal communities. It is time, in this 21st century, for opportunity to be able to travel safely down our roads and connect the commerce and culture of our tribal communities.  Asphalt is the great equalizer.”

Gonzales agreed.

“Transportation is critical. Good roads are how we get to work, school, the doctors and hospitals, and how goods and products are transported,” Gonzales said. “If we can’t get through, there is a big problem! Transportation needs to receive more attention here at the Legislature for all of these reasons and for a good economy.”

Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (District 7), added that transportation contributes to tourism, which benefits Native American Nations and the state.

“Much of rural Arizona and especially Native American reservations are dependent upon tourism,” Peshlakai said. “Arizona’s natural beauty and cultural diversity ought to be accessible for all so that the state can remain a global destination point on every person’s bucket list.”

The Native American Caucus would like to encourage people to get involved in the legislative process and to make sure their voices are heard. To receive a registration form for a Request to Speak System account, please email Melissa Upshaw at or call the office of Rep. Hale at 602-926-4323. Once your account is created, you will receive the Request to Speak System Manual by email and you can comment on bills being heard in committees through your online access by going to and clicking the Request to Speak System link.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Clinco selected for Vanguard Class of 2014

Clinco selected for Vanguard Class of 2014

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Demion Clinco, D-Tucson (District 2), is among 43 people selected from across the country to join the prestigious Vanguard Class of 2014.

Clinco was chosen for his commitment to community service and leadership.

“I am honored to represent our communities at the Vanguard Conference this year,” Clinco said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn from other community leaders about innovative ways of making our communities better places.”

The Vanguard Class attends a conference hosted by Next City, a non-profit media organization, which selects leaders from around the nation whose ideas, experience in the field and ambition for the future show great promise. These individuals gather for an intensive series of presentations, workshops, neighborhood tours and more.

As the only Vanguard Class participant from Arizona this year, Clinco says he is committed to sharing his experience with other leaders from around the country.

“There are so many positive things that are happening in Arizona that often go unnoticed,” Clinco said. “I am thrilled to be able to inform others of the positive progress we have made in this state with people from around the nation.”

For more information about the Vanguard Class, go to:


Monday, March 31, 2014

Republicans block Hale’s attempt to fund construction of Navajo Nation Supreme Court Complex

Republicans block Hale’s attempt to fund construction of Navajo Nation Supreme Court Complex

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Arizona House Republicans rejected an attempt by Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), to amend the state’s budget to include $7.5 million to help build a Supreme Court Complex on the Navajo Nation. This amendment initially received a passing vote of 29 to 28 when Speaker of the House Andy Tobin, D-Paulden (District 1), voted in favor of the appropriation.  Tobin then changed his vote to no, failing the amendment.

“For too long, the Navajo Nation Supreme Court has been operating out of substandard facilities, and the people working for the Supreme Court have been making the best of this situation,” Hale said. “The highest court of this nation lacks a home that appropriately reflects the values of the community it serves. The plans for the new Supreme Court Complex would correct these issues.”

The design plans for the new complex show that the buildings will incorporate Navajo teachings and promote peacemaking sessions. Hale said it would be a point of pride. The entire construction project is expected to cost about $15 million. Hale’s amendment would have allocated money for half of the project. The Navajo Nation is expected to contribute the other $7.5 million to complete construction.

Chief Justice Herb Yazzie of the Navajo Nation highlighted the importance of state collaboration to support necessary resources on indigenous reservations.

“The Navajo Nation Supreme Court thanks Rep. Hale for his effort to have the State of Arizona act collaboratively with the Navajo Nation to fund the construction of facilities that would recognize the need to express the dignity and respect for laws. The need remains,” Yazzie said.

Hale said that he will continue to advocate for the funding in the future.

“It is unacceptable that the needs of the people of the Navajo Nation, although they contribute to this state’s general fund by paying Transaction Privilege Tax, are not being recognized.  The Navajo Nation Supreme Court plays a critical and essential role in resolving disputes for all who come before it. This includes non-Indians and non-Indian owned businesses from outside of the Navajo Nation,” Hale said.

Rep. Hale is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He was born in Ganado and raised in Klagetoh, Arizona. He is Ashiihi (Salt), born for Todichiini (Bitter Water). His maternal grandparents are Hanaghani (Walk About clan). His paternal grandparents are Kiyanii (Tall House clan). He is a 1969 graduate of Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school located east of Gallup, New Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (1973), and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1977), and an honorary Juris Doctor degree from Phoenix School of Law (2012).  He is the former President of the Navajo Nation.