Tuesday, April 28, 2015

McGuire on the 2016 Arizona Budget

Note: This editorial appeared in the March 12th edition of the Casa Grande Dispatch

This year's budget, which was rammed through the legislative process in just over 48 hours, trades
Sen. McGuire
short-sighted cuts for long-term damage to our state. The harm done to rural Arizona will be especially acute.

My LD 8 seatmates in the House initially sided with me to oppose the budget, but traded their votes for protecting Pinal Community College's budget from elimination. While I am grateful that funding to our community college was restored, the overall net result of the budget is hardly a good deal for the people of Pinal County.

Left on the cutting board was vital funding for public education. Our state universities will see a $99 million cut (fully 14% of their classroom funding), and our public schools will get a new $113.5 million reduction to their fund for classroom materials and supplies and capital dollars. This new cut is on top of reductions already in place to district additional assistance and will leave our schools financially struggling to retain quality teachers. In addition, the education funding lawsuit remains unresolved despite the fact that Arizona’s Legislature has been ordered to increase funding to our K-12 schools. This budget also phases out funding to the Casa Verde High School STEM Academy and eliminates all the additional aid they receive for this program by fiscal year 2017.

The Department of Child Safety will see a $10 million reduction despite 16,900 kids currently in state care, and the backlog of cases is rising, not falling.

Even more damaging to Arizona's rural communities is the 5% provider rate reduction for Medicaid. Coupled with the loss of federal matching dollars, that cut adds up to more than half a billion dollars that will disappear from our state's economy. This will put the many rural clinics and hospitals at risk of closing, in areas where there are often no alternatives.

In their blind quest for "fiscal responsibility," the crafters of this budget decided to shirk as much burden on to counties and towns as possible. Counties must now house all juvenile inmates in their own facilities and we also have to pay the state more than $10 million for collecting our own taxes. Does that sound fiscally responsible to you?

A common thread throughout all of their budget cuts was targeting programs that help Arizona's young, our rural areas and our needy. With cuts to counties, schools, health care and programs like the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, we can see who our state's leaders do not consider to be a priority.

Many legislators sold their votes for small things here and there. In doing so, they endorsed a short-sighted budget that will detrimentally affect Arizona for years to come.

I stood with the families of my district and refused to sell out their future in exchange for a few silver coins in the budget. I've got your back, and no one can convince me to back down.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Statements on the passing of Governor Raul H. Castro

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Senate Democratic leaders released the following statements on the passing of former Arizona Governor Raul H. Castro.

Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs:
“From the humble Sonoran mining town of Cananea to our state's highest office and representing our nation abroad as ambassador, Governor Castro was a true Renaissance man. A public servant with compassion for every member of his community, he understood the power of education for those who dream big,” said Senator Hobbs.

“He was a leader who demonstrated the dignity of selfless service in pursuit of equal opportunity for all, a quality to which all of Arizona’s leaders should aspire.”

Senate Democratic Whip Martin Quezada:
“Governor Castro was a man who embodied many things to many people. For young Latinos like myself, who grew up in this state and wanted to be leaders, who wanted to create opportunities for our people and to have a voice in determining the future of our state, Gov. Castro served as a beacon - a living example of what our potential could actually be,” said Sen. Quezada.

“As we mourn the loss of a great man like Raul Castro, we also see these young leaders and know that through it all, Raul Castro broke down a barrier and opened a door that can never be closed. Descanse en paz SeƱor Castro.”

Senator Catherine Miranda, chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus:
“Governor Raul Hector Castro, Arizona's first and only Hispanic governor, was an influential leader whose career spanned international borders, ethnic barriers and generations. With tenacity and dignity he worked his way through college, earned a law degree and used his professional career to serve his state and nation,” said Sen. Miranda.

“Next session I will introduce a proclamation to honor Governor Castro’s memory and recognize his legacy as a pioneer in Latino leadership – a legacy that continues with every young Latino who chooses to serve their community and make it a better place for future generations. Governor Castro will be dearly missed but his contributions to Arizona and the world, and his groundbreaking legacy for Hispanics everywhere, will last far beyond his rich lifetime.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Senator Barbara McGuire statement on HB 2246

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Barbara McGuire, LD8, released the following statement on today's failure of HB2246 in the Senate. The bill would have allowed a parent to opt-out their child from the statewide student assessment system beginning next school year.

Sen. McGuire
“I understand that there are many parents who are concerned about our state's educational assessment tests and HB2246 was another in parents’ educational tool box giving them a choice when it comes to the specific needs of their child. This bill would have allowed those parents to opt-out their children instead of missing class to avoid the tests, which would have penalized our teachers and district schools. It also would have afforded the state time to discuss its No Child Left Behind waiver with the U.S. Department of Education,” said Sen. McGuire.

“I know that every child learns differently and each have unique talents and challenges with their education. I will work closely with our Department of Education and the Board to ensure both parents and schools are not penalized for doing what’s right for a child.”

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Budget shirks difficult decisions, passes burden to Arizona families

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement on today’s passage of the fiscal year 2016 budget.

Sen. Hobbs
“The budget passed today is not a document of sound fiscal policy crafted with the best interests of Arizona in mind. It is a ransom note to the people of Arizona, putting them on notice that there are no longer checks and balances in this state,” said Senator Hobbs.

“While we often disagreed with Governor Brewer, she ultimately served as a backstop to the worst elements of her party. With this budget, the ninth floor has demonstrated that they cannot be counted on to restrain the most extreme policies our state has ever seen.

“Arizona's Republican leaders have avoided making difficult fiscal decisions in this budget. Instead, they chose to pass that burden on to counties, cities, schools, universities, hospitals and ultimately on to the backs of middle class Arizona families and the poor.

“The damage done by this budget will echo for generations and hamper our economic competitiveness in the region.

“By ignoring the universal outrage from every corner of our state, ignoring the masses of parents and children protesting more cuts to their schools, and ignoring the painfully obvious detrimental impact this will have to our economy, Republican leaders have demonstrated their willful disregard for the people they have been elected to serve.

“The Legislature and the Governor should be above this. Our state deserves better.

“We believe that the people of Arizona are the only special interests that matter and we will continue to be their voice at the Capitol, fighting to protect our children, our schools and a prosperous future for everyone.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

GOP leaders ask Arizonans to "tighten their belts" while special interest handouts continue

On Monday, Governor Ducey told a reporter:

"We're doing what we're asking all of the citizens to do and small businesses, is to tighten their belt and to live within their means."

Governor Ducey is right, Arizonans have been tightening their belts. And he's also correct that we should expect the state to do the same. But this disingenuous statement is just another move in Republican leaders’ shell game where they say one thing and do another.

This statement ignores the fact that while state agency budgets were cut and our schools and universities slashed, the Republicans who made those cuts with one hand were handing out tax cuts for corporations and the rich with the other.

In 2010 voters approved a one-cent sales tax, which was sold as saving education but very little of which end up in our schools. Instead, a good portion of it was used to build more private prisons and give away more tax cuts.

Those tax cuts were sold as "jobs bills," yet our state still lags behind neighboring states in economic recovery. If Republican leaders at the Capitol had spent the one-cent tax revenues on education as promised, Arizona would possibly be more competitive than we are now.

A May 2012 report by ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business explains:

"Regional economic competitiveness is a function of many factors, the most important of which are the quality and availability of the workforce, the quality and availability of infrastructure, and costs. Labor costs are most significant; the tax burden is relatively unimportant."

When the people of Arizona tried to pass another one-cent sales tax in 2012 to support our kids’ education, Ducey and his dark money groups rallied to defeat it.

So here we are, once again, facing a budget crisis and calls for our schools, state agencies and the people of Arizona to "tighten their belts" and make sacrifices.

And here we see, once again, Republican leaders demanding this sacrifice of us while they give away more money for private prisons and as another $675.5 million in tax breaks for corporations are set to go into effect over the next three years.

The people of Arizona don’t want more private prisons and they don’t want more cuts to education. A Morrison Institute for Public Policy poll conducted in late January showed that Arizonans rank education as their top priority and feel that more should be spent on our schools.

It's time for the people of Arizona to say enough is enough and demand their government stop giving away their hard-earned tax dollars and start funding the agencies that protect our citizens and the schools that prepare our children to be competitive in a modern economy.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Senate approves Begay bill that protects Tribal children

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Carlyle Begay, LD7, released the following statement on the passage of his bill SB1080 (tribal social services agencies; information).

About SB1080:
SB1080 allows mandatory reporters to report child abuse or neglect to tribal law enforcement or social services agency if they suspect an Indian minor who lives on a reservation has suffered abuse. Mandatory reporters include medical practitioners, peace officers, child safety workers, the parent or guardian, school personnel and any other person who has responsibility for the care and treatment of the minor.

The bill also authorizes the Department of Public Safety to share criminal justice information with tribal social services agencies for the purposes of background checks on prospective adoptive parents and custodians of juveniles, and to investigate or respond to reports of child abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Senator Carlyle Begay:
Sen. Begay

"In every community there exists the critical need to build robust collaborative partnerships between government, law enforcement and social service agencies - both state and tribal. SB1080 will strengthen that collaboration and help ensure children on tribal lands are just as protected as those who reside on state land," said Senator Begay.

"By working together, sharing resources and information, our state and tribal social service agencies will handle life-changing situations in ways that make a positive difference in the lives of the people they serve.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Senate Approps passes Begay bill to help Tribal students attain higher education


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Carlyle Begay, LD7, released the following statement on the passage of his bill SB1220, including the strike-everything amendment that would create the Tribal College Dual Enrollment Program Fund.

Background
The strike-everything amendment to SB1220 would allow Arizona’s Tribal colleges to help offset costs for dual-enrolled students. Dual enrollment permits a high school student to earn community college credit at both their high school and Tribal college. Arizona's three Tribal community colleges (Dine College, Navajo Technical University and Tohono O’odham Community College) each offer dual enrollment programs.

Tribal colleges would be reimbursed from the Tribal College Dual Enrollment Program Fund for tuition and fees that are waived for dual-enrolled students.

Senator Carlyle Begay:
Sen. Begay
"Dual enrollment proves advantageous for students in our Tribal communities. It allows them to ease the transition from high school to college and get a head start on a college career," said Senator Begay. "There is evidence that it also promotes high school graduation and improves a student's likelihood of remaining in college.

"We need to encourage more of these programs in rural and Tribal areas and this bill does just that."