Tuesday, March 28, 2017

AZ Legislative Democrats FY18 Education Policy and Fiscal Priorities



Arizona Legislative Democrats
FY18 Education Policy & Fiscal Priorities
Education
Investing in public education, including K-12 schools and universities, is critical to changing the trajectory of the state. Democrats have prioritized efforts to reduce class sizes, correct the teacher shortage problem and develop long-term solutions that will provide our schools the resources they need.
This session, Democrats introduced a package of bills to properly invest in our educators, students, and schools. Taken together or individually, we strongly recommended that the Legislature consider these items in order to move our K-12 education system forward:  
Teacher Salary  
·         The first step in achieving these goals is providing our classroom teachers an immediate 4% salary increase starting in FY 2018.
·         Arizona ranks 50th in teacher pay, with teachers earning just $45,477 compared to the national median teacher salary of $54,120. (NEA 2015-2016)
·         We recognize the Executive's FY 2018 budget provides a raise for teachers, but the immediate impact is negligible – a mere .4% increase in the first year does little to address inadequate pay and alarming turnover rates.   
Building Renewal & Soft Capital
·         The building renewal funding formula to repair and maintain school buildings was repealed in 2013 and replaced with a grants program that is less than one-tenth of what the formula funded. Last September two Glendale elementary schools were forced to close due to emergency repairs.
·         The Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimates that the now-repealed formula would have generated $289 million for the current fiscal year. The FY 17 budget appropriated just $31.7 million to the building renewal grant program.
·         Governor Ducey's budget proposal continues hundreds of millions of dollars in annual direct cuts to schools for school maintenance and soft capital like technology, textbooks and classroom supplies.
·         Democrats propose reinstating the building renewal formula in statute and increasing funding 10% per year until the formula is fully restored.
·         Addressing soft capital needs is critical to supporting our schools and requires an intentional effort to reverse these devastating cuts to education. Suspensions of these district and charter additional assistance formulas have totaled more than $2 billion since 2009.
·         Democrats propose increasing funding to District Additional Assistance by 10% per year until the formula amount is fully restored.
Prop 301 Renewal
·         Approved by the voters on the 2000 general election ballot, Prop 301 monies provide a key source of financial support for schools and are scheduled to expire in June 2021.
·         Democrats propose referring Proposition 301 renewal to the 2018 General Election ballot and increasing the amount from .6 to 1 cent, which would generate over $400 million additional dollars to support teacher pay increases, reduce classroom sizes and begin to turn the corner on our statewide teacher recruitment and retention crisis.
·         77% of Arizonans want to renew Prop 301 and 65% agree with Democrats that we should renew at a full penny. Now is the time to make that commitment to the children of our state. (SFC).
Volkswagen Emissions Settlement
·         30% of our school buses fail safety inspections and schools are constantly forced to prioritize building repairs over basic needs because of lack of funding.
·         Democrats support using the $48 million in funding received from the Volkswagen Emissions Settlement for the purpose of purchasing or updating school buses in the K-12 education system.
Resources
With a population of nearly 7 million and growing, the need for vital state services and infrastructure will not diminish. Nonetheless, our current tax structure is stacked against the middle class and favors special interests. Reckless cuts have left Arizona without the revenue needed to meet the long-term needs of our state's population. We need tax reforms that more fairly impact taxpayers and create a consistent source of revenue to fund the priorities that voters have repeatedly said they value. Legislative Democrats are committed to starting a statewide conversation about how to fund the education system our voters and the business community strongly support. Our state's future economic development prospects are directly tied to educating the workforce needed for our businesses to grow and compete in a global marketplace.
Tax Credit Sunset Process
·         Establish a sunset review of all income tax credits to force the Legislature to proactively assess, debate and act to continue each individual credit
Tax Expenditure Review
·         Require the nonpartisan Joint Legislative Budget Committee to review the return-on-investment for all tax expenditures to determine if they create new economic activity, generate revenue and lead to quantifiable job creation.
STO Cap
·         Cap the School Tuition Organization (STO) corporate tax credit expansion and allocate the savings to teacher recruitment, retention and training. This will save $12 million in revenue in just the first year.        
Rehire Department of Revenue Compliance Staff
·         According to a recent study by the non-partisan Grand Canyon Institute, Arizona could increase annual revenue by $70-100 million dollars by hiring 100 additional collectors and auditors plus needed support staff. 
Finance Review Task Force
·         Create a state finance review task force comprised of legislators, agency representatives, economists, business and community leaders and stakeholders to review the expenditure and revenue sides of the state budget and recommend a reform package that provides for adequate and sustainable funding. The Legislature should ensure that the revenues of the state are sufficient to address the essential functions of government. Fund sweeps and other gimmicks are not an acceptable way to build a sustainable and structurally balanced budget.

Legislative Democrats
K-12 Funding Proposal- FY'18

Proposed Investments
Teacher Raises
$136 M
Reinstate the Building Renewal Formula*
$29 M
District Additional Assistance Formula increase*
$38 M
K-12 school buses
$48 M
TOTAL




$251 M

* First year of a 10-year, 10% per year funding restoration plan
Funding Sources
General Fund
$55.6 M
Shift funding from the Governor's "credit enhancement" funds
$24 M
Freeze growth in corporate STO tax credits for private school tuition
$12 M (20% growth per year)
General Fund lottery revenue
$50 M
Revenue from adding additional DOR tax collection staff
$61.4 M
VW settlement for K-12 school buses
$48 M
TOTAL



$251 M




Monday, March 27, 2017

ICYMI: Arizona Budget Town Hall in Flagstaff

This past weekend, Arizona democrats kicked off the first town hall regarding the state budget in Flagstaff. We look forward to continuing the conversation on our budget priorities: Education, Jobs, Health Care and Building a Better Future. Join the conversation using #BeHeard 

Click the on the picture to watch footage of the town hall:

PRESS RELEASE: National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators appoints Chavez, Rubalcava to leadership positions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2017
Contact: C. Murphy Hebert
602-926-5848

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Two Democratic members of the Arizona House of Representatives were recently appointed to leadership roles with the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, a membership organization that advocates for policy changes that address the issues facing Hispanic communities.

Rep. César Chávez, D-Phoenix (District 29), will serve as the vice chair of the Immigration, Human and Civil Rights Taskforce.  The taskforce is charged with keeping the organization up-to-date on trends and events related to immigration and human and civil rights. Taskforce members are also responsible for drafting resolutions intended to influence congressional actions.

"It is an honor to have been appointed as vice chair of the Immigration, Human and Civil Rights Taskforce. I am anxious to start working with my colleagues across the nation on issues that continue to oppress our communities," Chávez said.  "Many believe that we are at a standstill because of our current president, however by maintaining unity and building pressure on Congress, we can make a difference."

Rep. Jesus Rubalcava, D-Gila Bend (District 4), now serves on the Executive Committee as Arizona's representative. Executive committee members provide insight and advice to the NHCSL president and vice president on current issues affecting the Hispanic community.

"I am very humbled and honored to join the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators Executive Committee," Rubalcava said. "We have a lot of work ahead of us, and I am looking forward to representing Arizona in this capacity."

The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators was established in 1989. Its membership includes more than 300 elected Hispanic state legislators from across the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

For more information, go to www.nhcsl.org.


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Protect Our Care

Stories from people worried about losing access to affordable health are pouring in from across the state. As details of the plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act become more clear, so do the consequences.  The bottom line is that people in Congress know that Trumpcare is a bad deal.

A vote on the bill in U.S. House of Representatives was delayed twice.

This is good news for Arizonans, especially those living in Yuma, which would have been among the cities hardest hit by the Trumpcare fallout. Yuma residents would lose about $7,815 every year in health care costs.
The deal the president put on the table was particularly bad for older people and those living in rural areas.  For example, a 60-year-old person in our state could  lose up to $6,720 in tax credits. Also, in some cases, those living in rural areas could increase costs so much that  some people's plans could exceed their annual income. 

Trumpcare was likely going to bust our budget. Within the first year, it would have caused a $663.3 million budget shortfall while 413,000 Arizonans would have lost Medicaid coverage. At the same time, it would have severely impacted our economy by causing 33,900 Arizonans to lose their jobs, including 10,500 in the health care sector.

The folks who would benefit a great deal were the super-rich.  That was tough to sell to Congress last week – the push back in Arizona alone was loud and clear.  The president says he wants to move on from this debacle. But we must stay connected and involved. This bill is still on someone's desk – don't stop making your voice heard on this matter. We have fought too hard to lose our access to health care. Let your state and federal elected officials know that you want them to #ProtectOurCare.

 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

#ProtectOurCare Rally at the Capitol

Elected officials, community members and health care advocates gathered at the House of Representatives today to share their concerns about the affects of the #ACARepeal bill. 



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rep. Powers Hannley: Arizona Women Deserve Equality

Rep. Powers Hannley encourages Arizona lawmakers to pass and #EqualRightsAmendment bill. Nevada just passed one - meaning the country only needs two more states to agree to an amend for the Constitution to ensure equal protections for women.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Budget Town Halls: Your State, Your Priorities

ICYMI Democrats will be travelling across the state and holding town halls on community budget priorities. Democrats want to ensure that your voices are heard. We've worked with the community to create policies that reflect our shared values. We will continue to do this through the upcoming budget process.

Our vision for Arizona is inclusive, prosperous and fiscally responsible. We remain committed to investing in policies that will improve our quality of life now, while promoting a stronger, more sustainable future.

These policies start by focusing on education, jobs, health care and building a better future. Arizonans demand that our government invest in people, support families and businesses and establish a framework for Arizona to prosper. These solutions come from the community, and we need the community to continue to fight for our Arizona.

Democrats are looking forward to discussing our shared budget priorities with you at our budget town halls. Join the conversation using the hashtag #BeHeard. Our first town hall will be in Flagstaff.

UPDATED: Flagstaff, Arizona
When:     Saturday, March 25, 2017
               12:30 p.m.
Where:    Flagstaff City Hall Council Chambers
               211 W. Aspen Ave. Flagstaff, AZ 86001
To RSVP click here.




Dates for the rest of the town halls are below. Information will be updated regularly.
Tempe, Arizona
When:     Thursday, March 30, 2017
                5:30 p.m.
Where:   Pyle Adult Recreation Center
                655 E Southern Ave, Tempe, AZ 85282
To RSVP click here.

Yuma, Arizona
When:    Saturday, April 1, 2017
                12:30 p.m.
Where:   Yuma City Council Chambers
               1 City Plz, Yuma, AZ 85364
To RSVP click here.

Phoenix, Arizona 
When:   Wednesday, April 5, 2017                     
              5:30 p.m.
Where:  Pueblo Del Sol (Gymnasium)
              3449 N 39th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85019
*This presentation will be in Spanish *En español
To RSVP click here.

Tucson, Arizona 
When:    Saturday, April 8, 2017
                12:30 p.m.
Where:    University of Arizona
               Modern Languages Building Room 350
               1432  E University Blvd. Tucson, AZ 85721
To RSVP click here.

Phoenix, Arizona 
When: Wednesday, April 12, 2017
             5:30 p.m.
Where:  Alhambra Family Resource Center 6615 N. 39th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85019

To RSVP click here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

STATEMENT: Andrade praises AZ Supreme Court's decision on the minimum wage proposition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2017
Contact: C. Murphy Hebert
602-926-5848



STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Richard Andrade, D-Phoenix (District 29), released the following statement regarding the Arizona Supreme Court's decision to deny the challenge to Proposition 206:

"I support the Arizona Supreme Court Justices' unanimous decision to reject the attempt to overturn Proposition 206, which requires an increase in the minimum wage.  Voter-approved citizen initiatives are a vital part of a responsive, community-driven government.  This decision supports the will of the people and the well-being of Arizona families.

"I would like to also recognize the work of Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA). This group of dedicated community members brought urgency to this issue by creating a movement in Arizona. Their efforts have made the importance of an increased minimum wage well-known in this state. This is a victory for Arizona families."


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Monday, March 13, 2017

Budget Town Halls: Your State, Your Priorities

Democrats want to ensure that your voices are heard. We've worked with the community to create policies that reflect our shared values. We will continue to do this through the upcoming budget process. We will be travelling across the state and holding town halls on community budget priorities.

Our vision for Arizona is inclusive, prosperous and fiscally responsible. We remain committed to investing in policies that will improve our quality of life now, while promoting a stronger, more sustainable future.

These  policies start by focusing on education, jobs, health care and building a better future. Arizonans demand that our government invest in people, support families and businesses and establish a framework for Arizona to prosper. These solutions come from the community, and we need the community to continue to fight for our Arizona.

Democrats are looking forward to discussing our shared budget priorities with you at our budget town halls. Our first town hall will be in Flagstaff.

UPDATED: Flagstaff, Arizona
When:     Saturday, March 25, 2017
               12:30 p.m.
Where:    Flagstaff City Hall Council Chambers
               211 W. Aspen Ave. Flagstaff, AZ 86001






Dates for the rest of the town halls are below. Information will be updated regularly.

Tempe, Arizona
When:     Thursday, March 30, 2017
                5:30 p.m.
Where:   Pyle Adult Recreation Center
                655 E Southern Ave, Tempe, AZ 85282

Yuma, Arizona
When:    Saturday, April 1, 2017
                12:30 p.m.
Where:   Yuma City Council Chambers
               1 City Plz, Yuma, AZ 85364

Phoenix, Arizona  
When:   Wednesday, April 5, 2017
              5:30 p.m.
Where:  Pueblo Del Sol 
            3449 N. 39th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85019
*This presentation will be in Spanish.

Tucson, Arizona  
Where:    Saturday, April 8, 2017
                12:30 p.m.
Where:    University of Arizona 
               Modern Languages Building Room 350
               1432 E. University Blvd. Tucson, AZ 85721

Phoenix, Arizona 
When: Wednesday, April 12, 2017
             5:30 p.m.
Where:  Alhambra Family Resource Center 6615 N. 39th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85019

Thursday, March 09, 2017

STATEMENT: Indigenous Peoples Caucus stands in solidarity with those protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in Washington, D.C. and Arizona

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: C. Murphy Hebert
602-926-5848
cmhebert@azleg.gov


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX –  The members of Arizona's Indigenous Peoples Caucus issued this joint statement of support for those protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline both in Washington, D.C. and in Arizona.

"We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are bravely opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. There are members of American Indian nations from all over the country who have joined together at the U.S. Capitol for four days of protests. Tomorrow they will march on the White House. Ensuring our voices are heard is critical to protecting our values, our lands and our traditions. We commend those who are doing that work in Washington, as well as those who are working so hard to bring the same attention to these issues here in Arizona. This fight is not over and we must remain united."


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Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Promise Arizona hosts 100 Constituents at State Capitol


MEDIA ADVISORY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 7, 2017

Contact: petra@promiseaz.org, Petra Falcon, 520-360-6128; or David Ayala, david@promiseaz.org, 503-975-6138 To view original press release please click here


Promise Arizona to host 100 constituents for legislative Capitol visits today
Press conference, 10 a.m., Capitol Rose Garden, followed immediately by legislative visits

(PHOENIX) Promise Arizona will host about 100 constituents from Phoenix Valley and Tucson for the organization’s annual visits with state legislators today.

“Our community’s priorities are no different than those of all Arizonans. We care deeply about education, voting rights, immigration and other major issues. What is different is that whenever those issues go unaddressed, our families often suffer serious consequences,” said Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona.

WHO: Promise Arizona
WHAT: Press conference and legislative visits
WHERE: AZ State Capitol
WHEN: Today, March 7, 2017 / Press conference, 10 a.m.; legislative visits 10:30 to 1 p.m.; lunch meeting with legislators in the Rose Garden at noon.

Press Conference on Muslim Travel Ban at Arizona State Capitol



Media Advisory:
Press Conference on Muslim Ban at Arizona State Capitol on 3/7 at 9:00am
The Council on American Islamic Relations of Arizona (CAIR-AZ) along with local allies, leaders and interfaith partners will be holding a press conference tomorrow morning, addressing the revised Executive Order by the Trump Administration.
SEE ALSO:  Trump Signs New Immigration Executive Order

Who:  
Imraan Siddiqi -  Executive Director, CAIR-AZ
Reverend Erin Tamayo - Executive Director, Arizona Faith Network
Representative Athena Salman
Other local leaders representing the communities impacted by the travel ban will also be speaking at the press conference.

When:  Tuesday, March 7th - 9:00AM

Where:  Arizona State Capitol (Lawn)
1700 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ  85007

About CAIR

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a grassroots civil rights and advocacy group. CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties organization, with regional offices nationwide. CAIR's national headquarters are on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Since its establishment in 1994, CAIR has worked to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America. 

Media Contact:  
Imraan Siddiqi, Executive Director, CAIR-AZ

(480) 415-4652, isiddiqi@cair.com




Monday, March 06, 2017

"Teachers fear they won't get paid after Gov. Ducey rejects funding."


This is another recent headline this month reaffirming the crisis in our classrooms.  Apparently, the governor is refusing to fund the Arizona Department of Education's IT department, which, according to an ADE employee, is the "hub of the entire education system." It handles a host of vital projects, including keeping student attendance and issuing teachers' paychecks.  Some teachers and ADE employees are bracing for the fallout, according to Arizona Superintendent Diane Douglas, who criticized the state for failing to fund public education.


Funding the IT department is a real problem that needs a real solution – one that costs an estimated $17 million. This issue only exacerbates the fact that Arizona nationally is dead last in teacher pay.

The governor and his friends are patting themselves on the back for offering teachers an insulting raise that amounts to about $2 a paycheck.  Instead of finding substantive ways to correct this, Republicans have spent years pushing to expand controversial voucher programs that pull money away from public schools and are being recognized nationally as a shell game. This is a crisis that the Republicans have created. House Democrats are focused on creating solutions for Arizona, while Republicans are focused on advancing their political agenda.

House Democrats are committed to finding ways to pay our teachers a wage that reflects their contributions to our state and our kids. Finding the money to do so is a matter of priorities. House Democrats have offered a package of bills that will get teachers the 4 percent raise they are asking for while prioritize solutions for other problems facing our kids' schools.

These solutions come from the community, and we need the community to continue to fight for our kids' classrooms. Call your legislators and tell them you want the budget to reflect your values. We know what the right priorities are for Arizonians and we can do much better for our hardworking teachers and students.  Let us stop being the country's model for shell games that hurt our kids and our future. 

Video Message from your House Democrats

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Rep. Ken Clark's Classroom

Rep. Ken Clark walks us through the legislative process:

Then he goes over the attacks on the Voter Protection Act:


2017 Indigenous Peoples Caucus members

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 2, 2017
Contact: C. Murphy Hebert
602-926-5848


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The 2017 Indigenous Peoples Caucus announces membership for the 53rd Legislative Session. The contact information for the caucus members is below.

Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D- Tucson (District 3)
Arizona House of Representatives, Room 332
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Email: sgonzales@azleg.gov
Phone Number: 602-926-3278

Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (District 7)
Arizona Senate, Room 314
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Email: jpeshlakai@azleg.gov
Phone Number: 602-926-5160

Rep. Wenona Benally, D-Window Rock (District 7)
Arizona House of Representatives, Room 117
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Email: wbenally@azleg.gov
Phone Number: 602-926-5172

Rep. Eric Descheenie, D-Chinle (District 7)
Arizona House of Representatives, Room 323
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Email: edescheenie@azleg.gov
Phone Number: 602-926-4846


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