Friday, February 05, 2016

Democratic Budget and Policy Priorities for Fiscal Year 2017

Arizona Legislative Democrats have a clear vision for improving our state. By making strategic on-going investments and utilizing the one-time resources currently available, we can strengthen our economy, create jobs, and improve our schools while keeping reserves in place. Democrats have listened to Arizonans and identified the need for reform, restoration and reinvestment in five critical areas:

Public Education: Prop 123 is Only the First Step (HB2624/SB1465)
When Arizona public schools prevailed in the K12-inflation lawsuit, the courts confirmed that schools have been underfunded for years. Providing additional resources for programs with a proven track record of student success and teacher retention will help address the critical needs schools are facing. Our higher education institutions also pay a critical role in turning Arizona studetns into workforce-ready professionals. The state must invest in our higher education system for Arizona to remain competitive in the 21st century. Legislative Democrats recommend the following: 

JTED Restoration/Career and Technical Education (HB2642/SB1525)
Teacher Mentoring Program
Starting Teacher Retention Bonuses
Classroom Resources
Restore and Stabilize University Funding
Invest in UA Large Animal Veterinary School
Arizona Financial Aid Trust
Restore Graduate Medical Education Funding

Community: Strengthening Programs for Vulnerable Arizonas (HB2630/SB1467)
Building better communities means helping families and planning for the future. We need strong leadership to keep Arizona kids safe and families whole. The Department of Child Safety remains in crisis. If the DCS Director and Governor follow the recommendations from independent experts and stakeholders, trust can be reestablished. We also need to restore the vital safety net services that protect vulnerable families. Democrats recommend the following: 

Implement Chapin Hall Recommendations and DCS Accountability Measures
No Cost
Fund Healthy Families, In-Home Family Supports and DCS Case Manager Wages
Restore TANF to 24 Months (HB2327/SB1138)
Expand Low-Income Childcare
Restore KidsCare (HB2309/SB1385)
No Cost

Economy: Moving Arizona Forward (HB2625)
Making targeted, one-time investments that will create jobs and strengthen Arizona's competitiveness makes sense. Arizona needs a diversified, innovative and resilient economy to weather future downturns. Our plan will invest in economic development, education and capital projects to restore our lagging economy, broaden its industrial base, incentivize high-tech growth and ultimately strengthen our ability to create high-wage jobs. Democrats recommend the following: 

Recapitalize Angel Investment Tax Credit
Increase Refundable R & D Investment Credit Cap
Enhance Funding for Business Attraction/Retention (HB2232/SB1469)
Restore Tourism Funding
Reduce the Sweep of the Highway User Revenue Fund (HB2606)
Accelerate Construction on Highway 189 for the Mariposa Port of Entry

Public Safety: Education not Incarceration (HB2626/SB1468)
Arizona has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country, and the Department of Corrections has surpassed the Department of Economic Security, Department of Health Services and state universities in terms of general fund spending. Prison reform should be a bipartisan issue. Even conservative states like Utah are taking the lead in bringing down the cost of incarceration by revisiting sentencing, reducing recidivism and providing drug treatment. Arizona would benefit from a similar study of potential reforms and should invest in programs that have been shown to reduce recidivism instead of throwing money at private prison growth. Democrats recommend the following: 

Direct the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission to Study the Current System and Recommend Reforms (HB2627/SB1275)
No Cost
Reinstate the Joint Select Committee on Corrections to Provide the Legislature with Oversight of the Department of Corrections and Private Prisons (HB2628/SB1472)
No Cost
Invest in Drug Treatment and DTAP Programs, and a Maricopa Corrections Center

Natural Resources: Protecting our Futures (HB2605/SB1470)
Arizona is blessed when it comes to natural resources and natural beauty. It is incumbent upon us to be responsible stewards of our air, water, land and cultural heritage as they are the foundation of a strong economy. We cannot afford to neglect our reponsibilities. Planning for our water future now is the only way to ensure our continued prosperity. Democrats recommend the following: 

State Parks Capital Investments
Water Quality Assurace Revolving Fund
Arizona Department of Water Resources Staff Restoration
Forest Fire Prevention

Total On-Going Expenses: $195M                             Total One-Time Expenses: $178M

To find the complete bill language for the legislation in this proposal, go to

Larkin's bill would create a Veterans State Park. The first state park in the Phx-Metro Area

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Rep. Clark and Rep. Fernandez on why they want to stop #BallotBlocking Bill HB2023

Rep. Andrade's HCM 2006 Unanimously Passes Committee

Rep. Juan Mendez's Chicano History Week bill passes committee

Hale continues to work for Native American nations, all Arizonans

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), introduced legislation to continue in his effort to provide Native American nations with good representation. 

“The state and Native American nations need to work in partnership for the best outcome for our communities. The people who live in Native American nations pay taxes and contribute to our state’s economy; Arizona has a responsibility to contribute to the Native American nations’ infrastructure,” Hale said.

A summary of the bills is below:

HB 2587 - appropriation; Hopi route 60 construction
Provides $3 million for the improvement of Hopi route 60

HB 2588 - water resources; appropriation; Kayenta dam
Designates $1.5 million for the reconstruction of the Kayenta dam

HB 2589 - transportation board; tribal infrastructure; recommendations
Establishes the Tribal Infrastructure Board to work with the state Transportation Board to provide representation to the Native American nations

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in both the House and the Senate to give these issues the attention they deserve,” 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.


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Rep. McCune Davis proposes white-collar crime registry

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 30), introduced a bill that would establish a registry of convicted white-collar criminals in Arizona. The registry would be maintained by the attorney general and would make available to the public information about an offender’s convictions and victims.

“This registry would serve, first and foremost, as a tool for consumers. It would give consumers the opportunity to know whether the people they do business with have a history of illegal and harmful behavior. Informing Arizona’s consumers empowers them, makes them safer and makes them more effective economic forces,” McCune Davis said.

Residential mortgage and securities fraud, business or commercial fraud and money laundering are all among the offenses that would require registration with the attorney general. Offenders would be listed on the registry for ten years following a first conviction, an additional ten years for a second conviction and for life after subsequent convictions. The registry would be publically accessible and may serve to deter potential white-collar crime.

“Giving consumers easy access to the identities of white-collar criminals should also deter potential crime before it takes place. Everyone except white-collar criminals is better off if we know exactly who those criminals are,” McCune Davis said.