Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Patterson, Heinz chosen for 2010 Western Legislative Academy

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson (District 29), and Rep. Matt Heinz, D-Tucson (District 29) have been selected to participate in a prestigious training institute for lawmakers in their first four years of service.

The Western Legislative Academy, put on by the Council of State Governments-WEST (CSG-WEST), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization serving Western state legislators, will build excellence and effectiveness in state legislators in the Western region.

“I’m honored to be selected for this academy, to have the opportunity to learn from legislators from other states and to build stronger bipartisanship in our state legislature,” Patterson said. “Arizona is on the wrong track and I hope to work toward moving our state forward next year.”

Admission to the Western Legislative Academy is competitive and is based on commitment to public service, desire to improve personal legislative effectiveness and interest in improving the legislative process. CSG-WEST chose 39 state legislators as members of the Class of 2010.

The Western Legislative Academy will convene July 12-15 in Colorado Springs, Colo. and will include intensive training in ethics, team building, communications, negotiations and time management. Faculty will include the Eagleton Institute’s Alan Rosenthal, a nationally recognized authority on state legislatures; Washington, D.C. communications expert Arch Lustberg, and a leading team building trainer for the U.S. Air Force.

“This is an excellent opportunity for skill building and I hope to put to work what I learn from the academy,” Heinz said.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Brewer has driven up state debt to the highest it has been in Arizona history. Talk about wrong track...

Worries increase along with Arizona's debt

by Mary Jo Pitzl - Jun. 9, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Imagine selling your house to raise money - and then leasing it back, with interest, over 30 years.
That's essentially what Arizona is doing this week as it conducts a two-day sale of state buildings. The sale, which concludes today, is expected to net the state $300 million. But it will cost much more to repay when interest is added, and it will contribute to raising the state's total debt load to more than $10 billion, a figure five times as great as a decade ago.
Paying off that debt will strain state budgets for years to come. For the fiscal year that starts July 1, the state must make a $232 million debt payment out of its general fund.
This latest borrowing to help cover the state's massive budget deficit is a stopgap measure, which some politicians say will leave Arizona having to spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on repayments that could have been spent on programs or used to reduce taxes.
"For a conservative Legislature, which is what we've tagged ourselves, we've borrowed a huge amount," said state Rep. Bill Konopnicki, R-Safford.
He tried in vain to get the Legislature to consider a budget plan that would have aggressively paid down the debt, retiring most of it in five years instead of the current 20- and 30-year time frames. It would have required tax hikes, but it would have been more honest than saddling future legislatures and taxpayers with tax increases to pay for today's spending, he argued.
The state budget, he said, is headed for a car breakdown by adding debt.
And Konopnicki said the breakdown is fast approaching.
"All the lights are on the dash - oil, gas - and we're driving as fast as we can," he said.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

SB 1070 failing to solve state's real problems

by Kyrsten Sinema - Jun. 8, 2010 12:00 AM
Special for the Republic

Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, reprinted June 1 in The Arizona Republic ("Arizona faced with battle vs. ignorance," Opinions) that people aren't taking the time to read the facts about SB 1070 - Arizona's new immigration law - but he failed to discuss the real facts about the new law.

Adams left out the most important point of all: SB 1070 fails to solve Arizona's real immigration problems - crime and violence along the border and in our neighborhoods.

But it's typical of Adams and his Republican friends in Arizona who consistently have failed to crack down on the violent and criminal acts that accompany illegal immigration. Their patchwork policies do nothing to solve the real problem that Arizonans experience every day.

Adams failed to point out that the new law will do nothing to stop the coyotes, human traffickers and drugs and arms dealers that cross our border every day.

Adams didn't mention that the new law is an unfunded mandate and gives police no resources or funding to implement the new law. Gov. Jan Brewer and Republicans took police officers off the streets when they massively cut public-safety funding this year.

Law enforcement also can be sued if they don't enforce the law and no doubt will be sued if they do. The law actually ties the hands of police officers instead of enabling them to protect our communities.

We need tough immigration reform on the national level that cracks down on human smugglers, the illegal sale of weapons to drug cartels and other violent criminals, and we need to give law enforcement the tools they need to secure our border. We also need to sanction employers who hire illegal immigrants and require immigrants to pay back taxes, learn English, pass a criminal background check and then get on a path to legalization.

Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the nation, and we should do everything we can to make sure law enforcement can do their job and protect our kids and neighborhoods. We also need to make sure those who are here legally are treated fairly and respectfully.

Arizona's economy cannot handle the expense of a law that does not provide a real solution to the problem. We need to focus on laws that actually do something to combat the violence.

For example, my bill that was signed into law, House Bill 2763, substituted by Senate Bill 1059, cracks down on human smuggling. It eliminates a requirement to prove that a trafficked individual be obtained "for transport" to qualify as being trafficked for sex or labor. The bill gives police more tools to arrest criminals who traffic people for sex or slave labor.

It's time to get to work and deal with the real immigration problems in Arizona.

SB 1070 fails to do any of that.

Kyrsten Sinema is assistant House Democratic leader in the Arizona House of Representatives.

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