Monday, September 19, 2016

Most Arizonans & all House Democrats want more resources for public school students

The results of a recent survey published in The Arizona Republic showed that almost 75 percent of Arizona voters who participated believe there isn’t enough money going K-12 public and charter school students. And 100 percent of House Democrats agree.

The findings were similar to a 2015 poll conducted by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy and ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, which showed about 74 percent of Arizonans believe that the state is spending too little on K-12 education.  Arizona continues to rank near the bottom nationally for public school student spending and an official from the Arizona Department of Education recently said Prop. 123 money won’t be enough to boost the state’s standing.

We still need a comprehensive plan for ensuring our schools get the resources necessary to prepare Arizona kids for college, the job force and the modern economy. Republican leaders promised voters that Prop. 123 would be a first step, but they’ve neglected to show leadership in doing anything else for schools. AZ Schools Now, a growing coalition of education and community groups, has come forward with a long-term, sustainable revenue plan for education that will focus on three key areas:

  • Restoring funding for classroom supplies, updated technology and textbooks. This would require restoring district additional assistance.
  • Sustaining a workforce of quality, certified and caring teachers in the classroom by investing in competitive salaries and professional development.
  • Restoring capital funding to give our students schools and classrooms that are safe, clean and functional places to learn.

This is the kind of leadership that will help secure a better future for Arizona students and for the state’s economy. House Democrats will continue to champion public education. We will work with those willing to do more for our schools. This will remain a priority until students receive the resources needed to ensure they get a quality education.

#DemsLead


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Statements from House Democrats on the passing of former Governor Rose Mofford


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Several House Democrats released the following statements about the death of former Arizona Gov. Rose Mofford:

House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D- Paradise Valley (District 28)
“Gov. Mofford will remain an Arizona icon. She was more than Arizona’s first female governor. She was a true leader who could bring people together to see the best parts of our state.  Her enthusiasm and dedication to Arizona and the people in it will be remembered and missed.”





Rep. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix (District 24)

“For decades Rose Mofford has been my hero. She was also my friend and my supporter. I join many others in profoundly mourning her passing. The depth of her service to Arizona is immeasurable and the effects will influence the state for generations to come. She was truly one of the finest ladies in the state and will remain so in our memories.”



Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 30)

“There never was a better advocate for Arizona than Gov. Rose Mofford. I will always associate her with what is special about this place. Her love of this state was reflected in her actions as a leader and a trailblazer. Her willingness to provide a steady hand during some tumultuous times stands out both in my memory and in history. It was a privilege to know and work with her.”




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Monday, September 12, 2016

Speak Up and Speak Out for Arizona Schools

A new report keeps Arizona’s ranking at the bottom for public school student spending nationally again. The U.S. Census Bureau reported Arizona is 48th out of 50 states in spending for K-12 pupils in public schools, while the state ranks 15th in the country for the total number of students enrolled in public schools.

A KTAR article quoted a spokesperson from the Arizona Department of Education admitting that the money from Prop 123  would not be enough to increase Arizona’s ranking substantially.

Democrats are champions for public school resources. We have made it a priority to hold the governor and Republican leadership accountable for the next steps for our schools. We will be your voice here at the Capitol.

Arizonans have another chance speak up and speak out for our schools. The state Department of Education is asking people for their ideas about education for the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which will replace No Child Left Behind in the 2017-2018 school year.

Republicans have cut billions from schools since 2008, and now we have a chance to make it clear that we want that to change. Our kids deserve fully funded public schools, with up-to-date textbooks and technology, reasonable classroom sizes and quality teachers who are earning competitive wages.

The online survey is in English and Spanish and will be available until Sept. 30.  Participation is so important. It is a crucial time to ensure your priorities are included. #DemsLead


Friday, September 02, 2016

20 Years of TANF

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program hit the 20-year mark in August. When the program was designed two decades ago it was supposed to help poor families get back on track by providing support and resources, including job training programs.

But as Children’s Action Alliance recently pointed out, Arizona spends under 2 percent of its block grant funds on job training activities, compared to 6.5 percent nationally.

In 2015, Legislative Republicans reduced TANF benefits from a lifetime limit of 24 months to only 12 months. They said state did not have enough money to maintain the program. This cut was expected to save $9 million, but it looks it will actually only save $4 million.  What makes this move so disingenuous is that Gov. Ducey’s and Legislative Republican’s cuts to the TANF program went into effect the same day they gave away $138 million in big business tax cuts

Their decisions left 955 poor families—and their 1,660 children—with a little less money to put food on the table and with fewer resources to get the job training and skills needed to move families out of poverty and prevent crisis. In draining money out of the state coffers through special interest tax cuts, the governor and his supporters turned their backs on these families. As a columnist for the Arizona Republic recently wrote, “What the Legislature actually is telling such families – moms, dads and children – is: ‘We don’t care about you.’”

House Democrats are fighting for Arizona families. We advocated for restoring TANF benefits and providing additional resources to parents trying to get back to work. That will continue to be a priority as long as it is a priority for the people in our communities. 

#DemsLead


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

National Caucus of Native American State Legislators adopts Hale resolution urging the president and Congress to appoint federal judges and justices with experience in Indian Law

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Earlier this month the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators adopted a resolution Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), sponsored which urges the president and Congress to appoint federal court judges and Supreme Court justices with knowledge of federal Indian law.

“Attacks on the sovereignty of Indian nations are so often staged in federal courtrooms now,” Hale said. “It is absolutely imperative that all branches of government in the United States honor the sovereignty of Indian nations, and that can only happen if the judges presiding over the cases involving Native American people know and understand the inherent sovereign status of Indian nations.”

The Caucus sent a copy of this resolution to all branches of the federal government, all state governments and all Indian nation governments. Every year the members of the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators meet to encourage policymakers and the public to better understand state and tribal issues and to promote legislation to achieve a better quality of life for Native American people. This year, the Caucus met in Chicago and adopted three resolutions, including Hale’s. Another resolution calls on Congress to eliminate the disparity in criminal sentences and prison time served for those convicted in federal versus state courts and to address the disproportionate effects of these convictions on Native Americans and people of color.

“The legal system should be fair,” Hale said. “It’s as simple as that. If it is not, if there is disparity, we have an obligation to root it out and correct it.”

This Caucus delivered this resolution to the president, members of Congress and the commissioners of the United States Sentencing Commission. The third resolution offered support for the use of biosimilars, or biologic drugs, to help increase access to affordable medicine for Native American people. The Caucus agreed to educate legislators about the availability of biosimilar drugs.

“This is a step forward for Native American health care,” Hale said.

Hale served as the vice chairman and can continue to serve as vice chair emeritus of the Caucus for two more years. For more information on the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators, go to http://www.ncsl.org/research/state-tribal-institute/national-caucus-native-american-state-legislators.aspx.


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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.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

House Democrats Champion Local Control

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns, an organization that advocates for local self-government and independence on behalf of the state’s cities and towns, recently honored 12 House Democrats for their dedication to and support of cities and towns during the 2016 legislative session. Cooperation between the state and cities and towns is critical in keeping our communities safe and strong. Democrats recognize the important role that independent local governments play, and that is why we defend local control.

But local independence is increasingly threatened in Arizona—ironically by many of the same Republican legislators who so often complain about federal overreach. This year alone, Republicans passed legislation targeting cities that have tried to ban plastic bags and puppy mills. They also passed legislation that lets individual legislators threaten huge amounts of funding for cities that pass ordinances they don’t like. And we’ve already seen legislators use that power against Snowflake and Bisbee.

Trampling on local control should not be a legislative priority. Restoring the $1.2 billion each year our schools are still losing out on, even after Prop 123 funding, should be. Taking firm steps to increase accountability and transparency at the Department of Child Safety, which recently cut services in order to save money despite the 19,000 children it is still responsible for, should be. These are matters of state concern. Plastic bags in Bisbee are not.

House Democrats prioritize the serious problems facing our state. We know Arizonans want their local governments to do the jobs they were elected to do—why else elect local governments? So House Democrats will always support local control. These awards remind that we are partners in serving our communities and that Arizonans are best served when every level of government works together.

The League presented these awards on Aug. 25 during its 2016 Annual Conference, held in Scottsdale. The awards are listed below.

Three House Democrats were recognized as Champions of Cities and Towns:
·         Rep. Randy Friese, D-Tucson (District 9)
·         House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28)
·         House Democratic Whip Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix (District 27)

Nine additional legislators received Certificates of Appreciation:
·         Rep. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix (District 24)
·         Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix (District 19)
·         Rep. Diego Espinoza, D-Tolleson (District 19)
·         Rep. Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma (District 4)
·         Rep. Matt Kopec, D-Tucson (District 9)
·         Rep. Jonathan Larkin, D-Glendale (District 30)
·         Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 30)
·         Rep. Lisa Otondo, D-Yuma (District 4)
·         House Assistant Democratic Leader Bruce Wheeler, D-Tucson (District 10)


#DemsLead

Thursday, August 25, 2016

League of Arizona Cities and Towns Recognizes 12 House Democrats

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The League of Arizona Cities and Towns honored 12 House Democrats for their dedication to and support of cities and towns during the 2016 legislative session.

“Cooperation between the state and cities and towns keeps our communities safe and strong,” House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), said. “These awards remind us that we are partners in serving our communities and that Arizonans are best served when every level of government works together. My colleagues and I appreciate this recognition from the League, and we look forward to our continued close relationship.”

Three House Democrats were recognized as Champions of Cities and Towns:
·         Rep. Randall Friese, D-Tucson (District 9)
·         House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28)
·         House Democratic Whip Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix (District 27)

Nine additional legislators received Certificates of Appreciation:
·         Rep. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix (District 24)
·         Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix (District 19)
·         Rep. Diego Espinoza, D-Tolleson (District 19)
·         Rep. Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma (District 4)
·         Rep. Matt Kopec, D-Tucson (District 9)
·         Rep. Jonathan Larkin, D-Glendale (District 30)
·         Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 30)
·         Rep. Lisa Otondo, D-Yuma (District 4)
·         House Assistant Democratic Leader Bruce Wheeler, D-Tucson (District 10)

“I want to thank these legislators for their courageous votes in support of local decision making,” League of Arizona Cities and Towns Executive Director Ken Strobeck said. “They are helping Arizona cities and towns be able to serve their residents effectively while respecting local community values.”

The League presented these awards on Aug. 25 during its 2016 Annual Conference, held in Scottsdale this year. The conference is a three-day event from Aug. 24-26, with hundreds of officials from across the state. For more information about the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, visit http://www.azleague.org/.


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