Monday, February 29, 2016

ICYMI: New Report Shows Higher Administration Charges at AZ Charter Schools Cost Taxpayers $128 Million a Year

ICYMI: New Report Shows Higher Administration Charges at AZ Charter Schools Cost Taxpayers $128 Million a Year 

Rep. Clark talks with Jim Hall, Arizonans for Charter School Accountability and 
Dr. Dave Wells, Research Director at Grand Canyon Institute

Click here to see full report

Rep. Plumlee wants to help working families and 18,000+ kids on SNAP

Rep. Celeste Plumlee, D-Tempe (District 26)

For more information on the HB2596, click here.
Click here to Be Heard.

UPDATE: House Rules Committee Approved HB2094

UPDATED: Feb. 26, 2016

House Democrats on Education Funding

Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28)

Rep. Celeste Plumlee, D-Tempe (District 26)

Rep.Matt Kopec, D-Tucson (District 9)

Rep. Richard Andrade, D-Phoenix (District 29)

Rep. Ken Clark, D-Phoenix (District 24)

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Democrats have been, and will continue be, the champions of public education and Arizona’s teachers and students. This legislative session, Democrats proposed that the state invest $219 million more in K-12 and higher education. Among the investments that Legislative Democrats would make is $35 million dedicated to keeping experienced and successful teachers in Arizona, so our kids have great teachers.  Arizona badly needs this, and Gov. Ducey neglected to include it in his budget proposal.

On May 17, Arizona voters will weigh in on Proposition 123, the proposed settlement in the public school inflation funding lawsuit that began in 2010. Gov. Ducey and Legislative Republicans have spent months congratulating themselves over Prop. 123. Their self-congratulatory attitude is misplaced. Arizona’s schools initiated the lawsuit in the first place because the state’s Republican leaders refused to fulfill their responsibilities in funding education. Plus, Prop. 123 would only restore 72 percent of the funding our schools are owed. Prop. 123 is an important first step in restoring education funding, but it is only a first step because it does not solve all of the serious problems facing Arizona’s schools.

Actions speak louder than words and, unfortunately, the actions of many Republicans in the Legislature suggest they are not interested in funding public education. Take, for instance, HB 2401, a bill signed by eight Republican representatives that would eliminate the desegregation funding that sustains 19 public school districts and their nearly quarter of a million students. Prop. 123 funding will do even less for Arizona’s students and teachers, especially those in poor districts, if those very same districts lose more than $211 million in annual desegregation funding.

Apparently wanting to leave no public school student untouched by funding cuts, 16 Republican legislators introduced HB 2482, which would make Empowerment Scholarship Accounts—vouchers—available to any and all students in Arizona. The loss of funding that this policy would permit could be catastrophic to public education. It also directly undermines the idea behind Prop. 123: that public students deserve more from the leaders here.  Dick Foreman, president and CEO of the Arizona Business and Education Coalition, recently explained why the Republican actions are contradictory in an Arizona Republic article. “Here we are trying to create some positive energy, and we’ve got current-year funding slashing, we’ve got unlimited ESAs, devastating the public schools, and we’ve got (desegregation) phase-out, which is closing public schools that are doing the most good for the low-income students,” he said. As usual, the actions of many Republican leaders in state government demonstrate that, whatever they say, public education is not one of their top priorities.

As long as the Republicans leaders in this state continue to prioritize special interest tax cuts over schools, we can expect our classroom sizes to continue to grow, our teachers to continue to leave the state and business executives will continue to see schools as a “key weakness” for our state. Arizona Legislative Democrats have provided a different option. To see how Democrats want to invest in schools and our future, click here

Friday, February 26, 2016

Native American Caucus discusses taxation

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Native American Caucus met yesterday for a presentation on the collection and distribution of transaction privilege tax, which is more commonly called sales tax, on Arizona’s Native American lands.

“I appreciate that so many people, including non-Native American legislators, attended our TPT presentation. Amending TPT collection and distribution has been a priority for the Native American caucus for years,” Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3), said.

At the meeting, Elain Smith, representing the Arizona Department of Revenue’s Office of Economic Research and Analysis, gave the caucus an overview of Arizona’s TPT system. In fiscal year 2015, the state collected more than $46.3 million in TPT revenue from Arizona’s Native American nations. However, Native American nations received only about $2.6 million in the form of state funding for the DinĂ© College and the Navajo Technical College.

“It is important to discuss this issue at the legislature because our current TPT collection and distribution system is racially biased and its inequity harms our Native American communities. Significant revenue is generated for the state on Indian land, but our reservations are left out of the distribution of that money,” Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), said.

Rep. Gonzales agreed that the return to Native American nations is too low.

“Currently, DinĂ© College and Navajo Technical College are the only Native American entities that receive TPT revenue. And the money they do receive is less than six percent of the TPT revenue collected on reservations. This system is totally unfair to Arizona’s Native American communities,” Rep. Gonzales said.

Rep. Jennifer D. Benally, D-Tuba City (District 7), reiterated the importance of the Native American Caucus meetings and said she hopes legislators and the public continue to attend.

“Arizonans need to know how much money is collected by the state from all of Arizona’s 22 Native American nations, and that the money going back to Indian nations does not reflect their contributions. This is not an issue just for members of the Native American Caucus, but for all state legislators and all Arizonans,” Rep. Benally said.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

PRESS RELEASE: House unanimously approves Hale’s measure to update the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Healthcare

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The House of Representatives unanimously approved HB 2312, a bill Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), sponsored to expand Native American representation on the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care. The bill would require the governor to appoint a member from each of Arizona’s 22 Indian Nations to the Council.

Hale said that he and Sen. Carlyle Begay, R-Ganado (District 7), who introduced a similar bill in the Arizona Senate, worked closely with the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care and the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona on this legislation.

“I would like to thank Sen. Begay, the Advisory Council and the ITCA for their work on this important legislation,” Hale said.

The bill also clarifies the Council’s purpose, which is to provide Native American governments and health care organizations a role in shaping the health care laws and policies that affect the communities they serve. The Council’s website, with information about upcoming meetings, can be found here.

“The Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care should be better connected to the communities it serves, and bringing more voices to the table will help to achieve that,” Rep. Hale said. “I appreciate the support my colleagues have shown for this issue, and I will continue to work with them to make this change happen.”

For more information on HB 2312, or to read it in full, click here.

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 24, 2016

Conflict of Interest Much?

Rep. Fernandez, D-Phoenix (District 27), and Attorney Tom Ryan

Monday, February 22, 2016

House Democrats on Protecting AZ's Natural Resources

Rep. Ken Clark, D-Phoenix (District 24)

Rep. Celeste Plumlee, D-Tempe (District 26)

Rep. Matt Kopec, D-Tucson (District 9)

Rep. Richard Andrade, D-Phoenix (District 29)

Strengthen the Economy and Keep Arizona Beautiful

Arizona’s natural beauty is undeniably impressive. We have the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Wonders of the World right here. We’re also fortunate to have a number of state and national parks that provide countless opportunities for Arizonans and tourists to experience the unique beauty of our state.

Although our natural resources are abundant, we must still protect them. It is incumbent upon all of us to be responsible stewards of the air, water, land and cultural heritage that contribute to our economy.

Legislative Democrats have a plan to ensure the future of our natural resources. First, we want to invest $20 million for one-time capital improvements to state parks. Our state parks contributed $226 million to the economy in 2014 and supported 2,367 jobs throughout the state.[1] This one-time money will be a down payment to restore and revitalize our park system, ensuring that the parks continue to be economic drivers for the state and to protect our environmental and cultural heritage into the future.

Legislative Democrats also propose investing $3 million for forest fire prevention and $5 million to protect our water supply by restoring funding for the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund (WQARF). This fund protects access to safe drinking water and promotes responsible stewardship of this critical resource.

Additionally, Legislative Democrats want to restore $3 million to the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR). The agency is in charge of ensuring our state has sufficient water supplies to support growth, and its funding has been slashed since 2008. Funding ADWR at the appropriate level is important to ensure we have professionals protecting Arizona’s share of water for farmers, cities and towns.

By reinvesting in our natural resources we can make sure our economy has a foundation from which to grow and that the state remains a beautiful place to live. To see a copy of the Legislative Democratic proposals to protect our natural resources, click here. To see a summary of the Democrats’ full, five-step plan for moving Arizona forward, click here.


[1] The Economic Impact of Arizona State Parks FY14, Arizona State Parks, page 11.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

UPDATE: House Rules Committee Passes Rep. Clark's HB 2656

UPDATE Feb. 23, 2016:
Feb. 18, 2015:

To see the full language of the bill, click here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

UPDATE: House passes Rep. Otondo's HB2455

UPDATE: Mar. 14, 2016

UPDATE: Feb. 18, 2016

UPDATE: Feb. 15, 2016

Feb. 11, 2016

To see the full language of the bill, click here.

It’s Still #EducationNotIncarceration for Dems

Arizonans have been demanding that the Legislature focus on education, not incarceration. But Republicans continue to dole out multi-million dollar private-prison contracts as our district schools struggle and the state’s per-pupil spending remains among the lowest in the country.  And the governor’s current budget proposal provides more general fund money for the Department of Corrections (DOC) than for the Department of Economic Security, Department of Health Services or state universities.

With that level of investment, there needs to be more accountability and transparency.  There is no question that prison reform should be a bipartisan issue. Other states are attempting to improve public safety and bring down the cost of incarceration by looking at sentencing, reducing recidivism and instituting drug treatment programs.

Public safety in Arizona could benefit from similar reforms.  We should invest in programs that reduce recidivism, instead of investing in private prison growth. To achieve this, Legislative Democrats have introduced a series of bills focused on public safety.  These bills would direct the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission to study the current system and make recommendations and would reinstate the Joint Select Committee on Corrections to provide oversight of the DOC and private prisons. These efforts would cost the state nothing. Democrats also proposed legislation to invest $7 million in drug treatment and Drug Treatment Alternative Programs (DTAP) and a Maricopa Community Corrections Center.

Every year, thousands of former inmates are sent back to prison for minor technical violations of their probation conditions. The Maricopa Community Corrections Center, modeled on Pima County’s successful community corrections center, would provide an alternative to returning these former inmates to prison and save the state significant sums of money.

To see a summary of the Democrats’ full, five-step plan for moving Arizona forward, including improvements to public safety and links to the legislation, click here.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Rep Friese with a #KidsCare Update

Rep. Randall, D-Tucson (District 9)

Dems have always supported Career & Tech Ed

House Minority Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28)
Dems Push for Career and Technical Education Funding Restoration 

The Arizona House of Representatives approved HB2642, restoring $28 million in career and technical education Funding, on Feb. 9, 2015

ICYMI: Update from CFA committee members on DCS bills

Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, Rep. Juan Mendez and Rep. Rios

Monday, February 08, 2016

UPDATE: Rep. Cardenas' HB 2055 Passes House

UPDATE Feb. 24, 2016:

To see the full language of the bill, click here.

UPDATE: Senate Government Committee passes Friese's HB 2156 on March 9, 2016

UPDATE: March 9, 2016

UPDATE: Feb. 25, 2016

UPDATE: Feb. 15, 2016

To see the full language of the bill, click here.

ICYMI: Rep. Bolding and Rep. Clark introduce new police accountability legislation

Rep. Reginald Bolding, D-Phoenix (District 27), and Rep. Ken Clark, D-Phoenix (District 24)

How to make a real comeback #DemsLead

Legislative Democrats have a plan that will develop a diverse and resilient economy. Although we are getting close, Arizona still has not regained all the jobs lost during the great recession. The rest of the nation recovered these jobs by 2014, and employment in most areas of the country has now surpassed pre-recession rates.

Arizona should be an economic leader. Moving our economy forward will require a reinvestment in innovation, infrastructure and job training so that the state can stand on solid ground and can weather future downturns. 

For example, it makes sense to recapitalize the Angel Investment Tax Credit.  Arizona’s technology industries rely on angel investors through this program to fuel new and continuing innovations.  Continuing investments under this program will generate thousands of jobs and millions in capital investments. Democrats also want to increase the cap on the refundable research and development investment cap because the program encourages small businesses to continue investing in research and development. This program supported over 11,000 Arizona jobs from 2011 to 2013[1].

Arizona also needs to reinvest in job-training programs and restore funding for tourism. Democrats propose $3.5 million in permanent funding each year to job-training programs, since their funding source was eliminated by the Republican-controlled Legislature last year. These programs helps attract new businesses, and support small and rural Arizona companies providing job training to new and existing employees. Additionally, Democrats are working to restore a Republican funding cut to the Office of Tourism, so we can better promote our state and attract visitors. This would show Arizona is open for business and help generate millions in economic activity.

Arizonans are independent and industrious. It’s time for the Legislature to reinvest in our greatest resource – the people who live here.

To see a copy of the economic proposal supported by the House Democrats, including additional information on infrastructure development, click here. To see a summary of the Democrats’ full, five-step plan for moving Arizona forward, click here.


[1] Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Research and Development Refundable Tax Credit Overview, January 2015 Update, page 4.

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 Future (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

Updated March 15, 2016

Updated March 9, 2016

Updated March 2, 2016

To see the full language of the bill, click here.