Friday, January 18, 2019

Democratic Leaders Respond to Ducey Budget Plan

PHOENIX, State Capitol – Senate Democratic Leader David Bradley and House Democratic Leader Charlene Fernandez released this statement on Gov. Ducey's budget proposal issued today

"Governor Ducey takes several steps in the right direction with this budget, incorporating a number of Democratic ideas from past sessions. With public sentiment strongly in support of the inspiring Red for Ed movement, and following an election that saw the Republican majority shrink, it's clear the Governor will need Democratic votes to pass his plan. While making moves in the right direction, his budget is still wanting for a sustainable path to fully fund public education, reduce class sizes and bring teacher pay to the national average. We've presented our blueprint for Arizona and this is the governor's blueprint. Now it's time for us to find the common ground where we can get real work done. The key to success for hard-working Arizona families who are counting on us lies in working together, which must begin today, not at the end of an otherwise Republican-only process as it has in years past. It's a new day, we share the same love for our state and its people, so let's get to work."

Democrats will provide more detailed analysis and questions as we spend more time with the governor's plan, but initial takeaways include:

  • K-12. We are happy to see funding for the School Facilities Board shored up and returning new school construction to a three-year model. We applaud another Democratic idea, funding the Teachers Academy to improve recruitment. We must work together to deliver a tangible second step toward retaining existing teachers, to holistically address capital needs and provide a sustainable long-term funding solution.

  • The Rainy Day Fund. With a $1.1 billion available, it is responsible to put a significant portion away in the Rainy Day Fund up to the statutory cap of 7 percent of the general fund (an additional $260 million). But to increase it to $1 billion while the state still has crumbling schools, roads in need of repair and other critical infrastructure needs that will go unmet makes no sense.
  • Charter school reform. Hiring more Charter Board staff is good but will do nothing to stop the corruption, self-dealing and conflicts of interest that have outraged the public unless we also pass true accountability reform. We hope the Governor is ready to work on real reforms, which he shied away from in his State of the State speech.
  • School safety and reducing gun violence. The governor made no policy suggestions to keep weapons of mass murder out of dangerous hands. His proposal puts the majority of "school safety" funds toward school resource officers rather than counselors and social workers. The funds should be combined so that schools may apply for the best-suited solution for their students.

Senate Democratic Leader David Bradley, D-Tucson:

“There are many things in this budget that reflect the Democratic ideals we’ve espoused over the years, so we’re thankful. It’s also good that Governor Ducey understands that the economy moves in cycles and is willing to save for the next downturn. But there are critical needs facing the state, not in his budget, that would be more cost effective to address now rather than squirrel away into the Rainy Day Fund. You don’t save money by not fixing a leaky roof because you’ll eventually have to pay to have the whole roof replaced later.

“Let’s work together to find long-term sustainable funding for education, social services, public safety and infrastructure so we can put the days of budget gimmicks behind us. To do that we must be willing to put all revenue sources on the table, starting with the billions we give away in corporate tax cuts.”

House Democratic Leader Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma:

"This budget contains many Democratic proposals from past years – like increasing childcare subsidies, covering tuition for National Guard members, restoring cuts to career and technical education, and increasing school counselors for example – so it seems like this past election has impacted the Governor's thinking. However, we still don't see a clear second step to reducing the teacher retention crisis, and no restoration of cuts to our community colleges and universities. That will hold back our long-term economic competitiveness. And his proposal to add more investigators to the Charter School Board will mean nothing if we don't also reform the procurement irregularities, self-dealing and conflicts of interest at the same time. We are ready to work with the Governor to improve and move this plan forward. We should start right away because he will need Democratic votes to pass it."


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Cano introduces legislation to fund Arizona’s community colleges and increase STEM funding

PHOENIX— Rep. Andrés Cano, D-Tucson, today introduced legislation to restore funding to all of Arizona’s community colleges, increasing appropriations for Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics fields throughout Arizona.

House Bill 2268 will allocate $21 million from the general fund in the 2020 budget to restore cuts to Pima and Maricopa Community Colleges, in addition a $5 million increase to S.T.E.M. funding and workforce programs to community colleges throughout the state.

“Arizona’s path to creating jobs and economic prosperity is directly correlated with fully-funding our community colleges,” Cano said. “This bill prioritizes workforce development and the gaps where Arizonans can have an opportunity to thrive, and to prosper.”

Overall, state funding for community colleges is $114 million less now than it was in 2008, a 66 percent drop.


Thursday, December 20, 2018

Chavez, Navarrete Elected Latino Caucus Co-Chairs

PHOENIX, State Capitol Senator-elect Tony Navarrete and Representative Cesar Chavez were elected on Wednesday to lead the bi-partisan Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus as co-chairs. Navarrete, of Phoenix, was just elected to the Senate after serving District 30 in the House for two years. Chavez, also of Phoenix, has served District 29 since 2017. Both Navarrete and Chavez are also members of the Arizona LGBTQ Caucus.
Incoming House member Lorenzo Sierra of Avondale in District 19 was elected Caucus Secretary. Sierra was a longtime member of the Avondale City Council before running for the Legislature.
“Latinos comprise more than 31 percent of Arizona’s population, which means that policy should be representative of its community," Chavez said. "As Co-Chair of the Caucus, my promise is to advocate for parity whether it is for employment, education, or healthcare. We need to ensure that the Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus is not overlooked when these decisions are being made within the legislature or within the numerous industries that Latinos represent.”  

"The Latino community represents the future of Arizona," Navarrete said. "It is critical that the Governor and Legislature work closely with the Latino Caucus to ensure all Arizona families have an opportunity to live healthy lives and thrive economically. As the newly elected Co- Chair along with Representative Chavez and Secretary Representative-Elect Sierra, we are committed to leading the state's largest legislative caucus with transparency and collaboration." 

Sierra added, "According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, it was found that Latino Americans are more likely than the general U.S. population to believe in the core elements of the mythical American Dream. As legislators from majority Latino districts, Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus co-chairs Senator-elect Tony Navarrete, Representative Cesar Chavez and I see this in the people we are privileged to serve. We intend to work with the entire ALLC to ensure we are doing all we can to ensure Arizona Latinos have a fair shot at achieving the American Dream."

The bipartisan Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus has 27 members from both the state House and Senate. Members hold strategic leadership positions and promote legislation and policies that directly affect Latinos in Arizona. The caucus also encourages Latinos to engage in the political process through public policy and community events.


Friday, December 07, 2018

Arizona Indigenous Peoples Caucus Statements on Murder of Amanda Dakota Webster

PHOENIX, State Capitol Current members and members-elect of the Arizona Legislative Indigenous Peoples Caucus today released the following statements regarding the murder investigation of Amanda Dakota Webster, a 26-year-old mother of three from Cameron on the Navajo Nation. Webster's life was taken Dec. 2 in Kentucky, where she was employed as a welder. A suspect is in custody.

From Senator Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Window Rock
“Amanda Dakota Webster, of the Diné people, child of Towering House and Bitterwater clans, was a daughter, granddaughter, mother and welder working for the American dream. Our country failed her with the nightmare of hardship and violence, but we cannot fail to act for her three children as they begin their journey of life motherless. Public safety, mental healthcare, social justice and political leadership are all equally up for scrutiny, accountability and change.”  

From Senator-elect Victoria Steele, D-Tucson
"We implore the State of Kentucky to fully investigate the death of Amanda Dakota Webster. The lives of Indigenous women are precious and should be honored, not dismissed or disregarded."

From Senator-elect Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson
"We must honor Amanda's life by ensuring that her death is fully investigated, therefore we ask all the Kentucky State authorities to do their jobs to bring justice to Amanda, her three children, her family and community." 

From Representative Eric Descheenie, D-Chinle
"My heart goes out to the family of Amanda Webster, especially her sons, as they grieve during this very difficult time. The outpouring of sentiments expressed by those who knew Amanda show that we lost someone very special. May our Creator be with her soul and all those who begin the long road to healing and recovery. We must deliver justice to the neglected epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and ensure perpetrators are held fully accountable for their actions. We owe it to the many families who've suffered great loss."

From Representative Wenona Benally, D-Window Rock
"The Native community has lost another beautiful life, taken tragically by senseless violence. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and children of Amanda Dakota Webster. We call on the state of Kentucky to join us in seeking justice for Amanda’s loved ones. We must continue to seek justice for her and the countless number of Indigenous women and girls whose lives continue to be stolen from us each day."

From Representative-elect Jennifer Jermaine, D-Chandler
"My heart aches for the family of Amanda Webster and the Diné people. We implore the State of Kentucky to fully investigate her murder." 

From Representative-elect Myron Tsosie, D-Chinle & Representative-elect Arlando Teller, D- Chinle
"Our sincerest condolences to Ms. Amanda Dakota Webster's Family, especially to her three children. We stand in unity to demand the State of Kentucky seek justice. We will address the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women. As Diné, we are obligated to care for Ms. Webster's three children and keep them close to our hearts.


Thursday, November 08, 2018

Fernandez Chosen to Lead Largest Arizona House Democratic Caucus in Decades

PHOENIX, State Capitol – House Democrats today elected Rep. Charlene Fernandez of Yuma to lead their expanded caucus in the 54th Legislature. Rep. Randy Friese of Tucson was re-elected Assistant Democratic Leader and Reps. Athena Salman of Tempe and Reginald Bolding of Phoenix were elected Democratic Co-Whips. House Democrats potentially added four seats in Tuesday's election and, pending final election results, could seat their largest caucus since 1966, which would shrink the Republican majority to a razor-thin 31-29.

"We’ve got a mandate from the State of Arizona that they want us to work together to solve problems for working families, to make sure they have access to quality healthcare and quality public education no matter where in our state they live. We will run with that mandate," said Fernandez. " I don't care what district you live in, what city or town, where you're from or how old you are, Arizonans just want their leaders to get things done. So, with the largest representation Democrats have had since the 1960s, that's just what we are going to do."

Fernandez was first elected in 2014 and served last session as Democratic Whip. She previously worked for both Congressmen Raul Grijalva and Ed Pastor, where she served as a constituent services coordinator and spearheaded an effort to bring a Veteran Administration clinic to Yuma County for the first time in history. She also served Governor Janet Napolitano's administration in the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

Dr. Friese returns as the Democratic Assistant Leader and was first elected in 2014. This past session he served on the Appropriations Committee. Dr. Friese served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps. He is a trauma surgeon and professor of surgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He was one of the surgeons who cared for the victims of the 2011 shooting in Tucson that wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Bolding is an educator, community leader and social entrepreneur. He was first elected to the House in 2014 and last session was the ranking member on the House Education and served on the Ways & Means Committee. He has founded and led two community engagement non-profits. His legislative work has focused on education, business, criminal justice and civil rights.

Salman was first elected to the House in 2016. Last session she served as ranking member on the Banking and Insurance Committee and served on the Government Committee. In her first term as member of the House she successfully had the Arizona Department of Corrections revisit its policies to increase the number of feminine hygiene products for female inmates are allotted every month.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

We Are Hiring! Policy Advisor

The Arizona House Democratic Caucus seeks an experienced and hardworking individual to join our team of policy advisors.

Position Description:
A Policy Advisor provides strategic guidance to the chief of staff and elected officials regarding specific policy area issues. A policy advisor is required to research, analyze and offer advice about potential and existing legislation. The ideal candidate will be proactive, work well in a fast-paced environment, and have experience in public policy and the legislative process.

Duties and Responsibilities:
· Staff legislative committees and policy issues.
· Monitor bills as they proceed through the legislative process.
· Draft bills and amendments with assistance from legislative drafting attorneys.
· Compile information about the impact of legislation through research and discussion with stakeholders,
lobbyists, and allied groups.
· Brief Democratic House Members on legislation.
· Prepare written summaries and make oral presentations about legislation.
· Respond to constituent inquiries.
· Draft briefing papers and talking points on assigned issues and legislation.
· Assist other lead staff with community outreach and media relations efforts as needed in assigned
legislative subject areas.
· Support other team members on other duties as assigned or required.

Preferred Qualifications:
· Bachelor’s degree (Master’s degree or Law degree preferred).
· Knowledge of and experience with legislative processes and government institutions.
· Strong analytical, research, writing and oral presentation skills.
· Professionalism, confidentiality, and integrity.
· Ability to succeed in a busy and demanding work environment, juggling multiple projects and deadlines
· Willingness to be part of a team that works closely and collectively to advance the goals of Caucus
Members and colleagues.
· Knowledge of policy issues currently being considered by the Arizona Legislature.
· Knowledge of health, human services and/or veteran issues preferred.

Salary is negotiable based on experience and education. Benefits include health, dental, vision, and retirement.

To Apply:
Please submit a cover letter, resume, and three references to by Friday, November 2, 2018. Please include “Policy Advisor Candidate, YOUR NAME” in the subject line. For questions please call 602-926-5848.

Monday, September 24, 2018

House Democrats Statement on 'Disgraceful' Trump Refugee Cap

Sept. 24, 2018

PHOENIX House Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix, released the following statement regarding last week's decision by the Trump Administration to cap the number of refugees allowed into the country to a near-record low of 30,000.

“Arizonans take pride in being one of the most welcoming and supportive communities in the country for refugees fleeing war and famine around the world. Amid the largest human displacement crisis in modern history, President Donald Trump has made another disgraceful, arbitrary and self-defeating reduction in the number of refugees allowed into our country, reducing the number to its historical lowest of 30,000 for 2019, down from 45,000 in 2018, and 110,000 in 2017. Refugees are thoroughly vetted and eager to work and contribute to their new communities. Arizona is a stronger and better place because of their contributions.

We applaud the efforts of our Arizona Congressmen Raul Grijalva and Ruben Gallego for joining dozens of their colleagues in support of a resolution introduced by Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia to increase the cap back to 110,000. Efforts like these show that we can and must be a better country for them, and for others still suffering who look to us as a beacon of hope and leadership.”