Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rep. Benally: ‘His decision to join the GOP is not surprising’

Rep. Benally: ‘His decision to join the GOP is not surprising’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Representative Jennifer Benally, D-Tuba City (District 7), released the following statement regarding Senator Begay’s announcement that he is switching his party affiliation to Republican:

“Considering Senator Begay’s voting record, his decision to join the GOP is not surprising. Now all the cards are out in the open, and next November voters in my district will have the final say on whom they want to represent them at the Legislature.”

“I will continue to be a voice for my constituents and work at the capitol to further the interests of my district. Addressing the diverse needs of my community is my priority.”


Friday, November 20, 2015

The Holiday Season Is A Time For Compassion: Reverse TANF Cuts

The Holiday Season Is A Time For Compassion: Reverse TANF Cuts

The holiday season is here, and Gov. Ducey seemed to be in the holiday spirit last month when he told Department of Economic Security employees, "Our Number 1 obligation not only as public servants but as human beings is to care for those who cannot care for themselves." His actions paint a different picture.

Just before claiming a moral obligation to care for those in need, Gov. Ducey announced that the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, cuts passed in March would be implemented despite a large budget surplus. And the legislative Republicans who made Arizona’s temporary assistance program the most restricted in the country are the same Republicans who approved almost $60 million in tax cuts this fiscal year and almost $112 million for next fiscal year.

The average TANF recipient in Arizona receives only $195 per month. Yet for thousands of families, that money makes all the difference in the world. So when at least 1,600 families are cut off from TANF next year, they will be losing the support that often means the difference between eating or not. That means that, come next year, Arizona will be home to 2,700 more children who might not get a warm meal on Thanksgiving, or any other day.

Don’t these children sound exactly like those “who cannot care for themselves?” Click here to find out how to contact the governor and encourage him to get into the holiday spirit and do more for those in need.

Monday, November 16, 2015

UPDATED: Making up the Rules

Making up the Rules

Recently, Arizona Secretary of State Michelle Reagan railed against dark money and issued a statement vowing to “unveil faux corporations disguised as political committees.” 

“Her words sound disingenuous,” Rep. Ken Clark, D-Phoenix (District 24), said. “I’ve had several conversations with constituents and community groups who have pointed out that her targets seem selective, at best, and potentially politically driven, at worst.”

This year, Republicans revised Arizona election law regarding who must register as political committees and disclose where they get their money and how they spend it in elections. That new law allows an organization whose “primary purpose” is not influencing an election to hide its spending from the public. But how do you know what an organization’s “primary purpose” is? The new law doesn’t answer that question. And that’s just the way the Secretary of State’s office wants it.

The Clean Elections Commission stepped in and took action against shady groups that want to influence your vote and not tell you where they get their money or what their agenda is. The Commission adopted a rule that defines “primary purpose” and will require disclosure by organizations who meet that definition. This will allow voters to know who’s playing in their elections.

Arizonans deserve to know who is behind the curtain when it comes to campaign contributions. Since the secretary of state seems uninterested in pursuing this issue across the board, the Commission is taking the lead to #StopDarkMoney. 

Following Rep. Ken Clark’s concerns about Secretary Reagan’s refusal to enforce many campaign finance complaints while vigorously enforcing a single campaign finance complaint against the Committee for Justice and Fairness, Rep. Clark looked further into which cases were dropped and whether there is a pattern.

Rep. Clark wants to make it clear that any group acting in an election, Republican or Democratic, should fully disclose its donors and its expenses, and it should be brought before the law if it does not.

“This is a very complex issue, but it is critical that folks understand. The secretary of state is right to ask the Committee for Justice and Fairness to follow the rules. But she needs to avoid the appearance of favoritism and to enforce the law even when groups on her side of the aisle are involved,” Clark said.

However, the appearance now is that the secretary of state is enforcing the law against only one group, which is a Democratic group, but is doing her utmost to avoid going after Republican groups that also failed to disclose their activity as required by the law.

The secretary of state points to the Galassini case as the reason she cannot enforce the laws against upwards of 20 groups. Yet there is another part of statute that was not part of that case, which has not been challenged (A.R.S. § 16-914.02(k)) and which could be used to bring light to these cases. 

Here is a small sample of those cases:

  •           Save Our Future Now for possibly violating A.R.S. § 16-914.02(K)
  •           Arizona Public Integrity Alliance for possibly violating A.R.S. § 16-914.02(K)
  •           AG Brnovich and State Conservative Reform Action PAC for illegal coordination (Symington                 complaint)
  •           State Conservative Reform Action PAC for possibly violating A.R.S. § 16-914.02(K)                            (Symington complaint)
  •           Failure to provide copies of IE ads via mail (A.R.S. § 16-917 violations)
    •     Arizona Liberty Alliance PAC mailers against Mitchell and Stevens (Querard complaint)
    •     60 Plus Association ads against Terry Goddard (Goddard complaint)

Some of these groups represent Republican-on-Republican battles. Two of them are cases where groups were targeting Democrats. 

In other words, the secretary of state is conveniently going after groups on the left, but letting off the hook groups on the right — some of which may have helped her friends get into office.

“This is a great example of why we need to have an independent campaign finance enforcement body in Arizona,” Clark said.

Monday, November 09, 2015

This solves nothing

This solves nothing 

The education inflation lawsuit settlement just isn’t enough to help our schools recover from years of Republican budget cuts. As the details about the settlement come to light, it’s even clearer that this cannot be the last word on education funding.

A Republic columnist recently pointed out that the GOP should get “no prize for past-due payments,” because the settlement “won’t give anything new to schools” and only provides a portion of “what schools were already owed under voter-mandated obligation that lawmakers ignored during the recession.”

The columnist also wrote that, “paying a past-due bill – mostly out of the state land trust - does not boost school funding beyond where it should have been” and “Arizona school funding will remain near the bottom nationally.”

Another columnist shared the sentiment and wrote, the settlement moves “Arizona up from dead last in the nation for state funding of public education to maybe 48th” because “since 2008, Arizona has slashed per-student funding of K-12 schools by more than all but three other states.”

This settlement does not solve all of Arizona’s school problems. It gives schools just over 70 percent of the court-ordered back payment. And 70 percent is a “C” average – our kids deserve better than that.
A corporate executive also sent a letter to The Arizona Republic, expressing her concern about the state’s habit of cutting taxes for special interests, which reduces money for schools. She said, “We need a governor and legislators who will address this… rather than continue scrimping on public education, the driver of Arizona’s future."

Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs summed it up, saying “students deserve better than this shell game.”  We’ll keep working for our schools and our kids. #KidsDeserveBetter