Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tuition ruling will be devastating for Arizona's Dreamers

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today, Arizona State Senator Catherine Miranda expressed her deep concern regarding the recent ruling by the Arizona Court of Appeals that DACA recipients are not in this country legally and are, therefore, not eligible for in-state college tuition.

Sen. Miranda
Judge Kenton Jones argued that despite the fact that in 2006 Arizona voters approved Prop 300, which establishes that in-state tuition is reserved for those with "lawful immigration status", DACA is not a law and the legal status of those in the program has never been approved by Congress. Thus, since the Court does not consider "Dreamers" to be state residents for purposes of Prop 300, more than 28,000 current DACA beneficiaries in Arizona may be required to pay burdensome out-of-state tuition.

Arizona attorney Danny Ortega, who represents DACA recipient students said he was, “very disappointed in the decision because it will triple the students’ tuition costs and likely force many of them to not pursue their education. At this point, we urge the Maricopa Community College District to appeal the Court’s decision and we stand ready to continue the fight for justice in education.” 

Senator Miranda stated:

"I stand with DACA recipients and will continue to fight for justice for them,” said Senator Miranda. “For Arizona's Dreamers, our state is their home. They are decent, hard-working students who every day contribute to our society in positive ways. They love this country and have worked hard all their lives to one day have an economic impact in their community,” she continued.

“This ruling will not only impact the more than 2,200 DACA students currently attending our universities and community colleges. It will also impact those who are studying hard and saving up to enter college in the near future, but who may now be forced to put those plans aside. Our nation is strengthened by its diversity. Let us all work together and continue to reinforce our democracy by supporting those who seek a brighter tomorrow and are motivated by the dream of greater opportunity."

Friday, June 2, 2017

ADEQ school lead screening program deserves praise

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Catherine Miranda released the following statement as the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) wraps up its Public School Drinking Water Lead Screening Program, which is testing schools statewide:

  "I have been following ADEQ's Public School Drinking Water Lead Screening Program ever since I was first
Sen. Miranda
notified in March that a schools in my district was found to have excessive levels of lead in its drinking water," said Senator Miranda.
"Since then, ADEQ has kept me and the school superintendents in my district updated on test results and have provided prompt and clear instructions on how to remediate sources of lead. So far 12 schools in my district have been found to have high lead levels in sources of drinking water.
"Our Superintendent in the Roosevelt School District, Jeanne Koba, has been following ADEQ's directions explicitly regarding precautions to take where they have found lead. ADEQ has assured Superintendent Koba that they will be working with her on permanent fixes to remove sources of lead and that in the meantime shutting down the tainted fixtures and flushing water lines will keep everyone safe.
"Exposure to lead is a serious threat to developing children and ADEQ deserves praise for initiating this ambitious program to test every school in the state within just six months. I have been informed that they expect to receive the last test results by mid-July to ensure Arizona children will learn in lead-free schools by the beginning of next school year."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Climate agreement departure threatens AZ economy, future

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Leaders of the Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statement on President Trump removing the United States from the Paris Agreement:

"President Trump's decision to back out of the Paris Agreement is an act of ideological folly that will cause long-term damage to Arizona's environment and our economy.

The first decade of this millennium was warmer than any of the 20th century and temperatures are rising still. Multiple climate models show the Southwest will experience some of the worst climate change in the U.S. over the next 40 to 80 years. Those higher temperatures will amplify drought conditions, making water more scarce, and require more energy to cool buildings.

Of the historic "Five C's" of Arizona's economy, the one whose value has never fluctuated is climate. Arizona's weather and natural beauty still draw millions of visitors from around the world each year. In 2015 alone, those visitors put $21 billion into our economy and supported almost 180,000 jobs.

And Arizona's climate provides the nation and the world with fresh fruits, vegetables and grains from our $17 billion-per-year agriculture industry. A lack of water and shifting growing seasons would be devastating to Arizona's farms and the 77,000 jobs they create.

With our abundance of sunshine and our renowned entrepreneurial spirit, Arizona can benefit immensely by welcoming innovative clean power companies that will help us transition from fossil fuel dependency, safeguarding the health of our environment, our economy and our people while creating new, high-skilled jobs.

By pulling out of the Paris Agreement, President Trump is abandoning the majority of Arizonans, and Americans, who support the Agreement and acting counter to the advice of U.S. Senator John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Sticking your head in the sand is not leadership, it's cowardice. Climate change is an issue where the U.S. should be a world leader. Leading in this area can grow our economy at the same time as we protect our world for our children and grandchildren."

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Budget prioritizes partisanship over greater good

Senator Katie Hobbs, Senate Democratic Leader
Senator Steve Farley, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader
Senator Martin Quezada, Senate Democratic Whip
Senator Lupe Contreras, Senate Democratic Whip

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Leaders of the Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statement on the passage of this session's budget:

"A state's budget reflects the priorities of those in power and the priorities of Arizona's Republican legislators and governor are crystal clear.

Governor Ducey and Republican legislative leaders had every opportunity to work together with Democratic legislators, who represent more than 40% of our state, to find realistic solutions to the real problems facing our state.

But they chose to ignore us.

For weeks, legislative Democrats offered our support for Governor Ducey's forward-thinking university bonding plan. With our cities and counties held harmless, his plan is a reasonable start to restoring the billions of dollars Republicans have cut from our state universities.

But he chose to put partisanship over collaboration.

Without the full support on bonding from Republican legislators, Governor Ducey needed our votes. For our support, we asked for a meaningful four percent raise for Arizona teachers, who have the lowest salaries in the nation, and a clean restoration of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to 24 months.

Instead of prioritizing Arizona's struggling families and hard-working teachers, Governor Ducey chose to spend your hard-earned tax dollars buying off Republicans with $1 million to the Koch brothers' pet project at ASU, $10 million in tax cuts and a petty swipe at cities.

Governor Ducey proclaimed in his state of the state speech, "Along with Leaders Hobbs and Rios, I’m excited to continue working together on areas of common ground."

It's hard to imagine, but Governor Ducey must not consider teachers, the working poor and our universities to be areas of common concern.

The priorities reflected in this purely Republican budget are that of partisanship over democracy, special interests over the public interest and hollow talking points over meaningful substance.

Legislative Democrats, by contrast, have always stood for Arizona's poor, our students and teachers, our universities, our public servants and our businesses. We strive every day to serve all Arizonans.

Such was our intention with our gesture of bipartisanship, a missed opportunity to collaborate for the greater good of Arizona because of wrong priorities."

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Ducey, Republican leaders eschew real solutions for partisan politics

Sen. Katie Hobbs, Senate Democratic Leader
Sen. Steve Farley, Asst. Senate Democratic Leader
Sen. Martin Quezada, Senate Democratic Whip
Sen. Lupe Contreras, Senate Democratic Whip
 Rep. Rebecca Rios, House Democratic Leader
Rep. Randall Friese, Asst. House Democratic Leader
Rep. Charlene Fernandez, House Democratic Whip

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Democratic leaders of the Senate and House released the following statement on the introduction of budget bills:

"Yesterday Governor Ducey and legislative Republican leaders introduced their budget bills, including a separate bill on university bonding.

"Republicans have known they don't have enough votes of their own members to pass university bonding, so we have been negotiating in good faith to support it in exchange for a clean restoration of the cruel and unnecessary TANF cut made in 2015, and diverting the governor's inequitable results-based funding to go toward teacher raises of 4%.

"Instead of working across party lines, they have decided to play partisan politics and pulled university bonding out of the higher education budget bill with the hope that enough Dems will be willing to leave struggling families and teachers behind to pass the bonding.

"That will not happen.

"Dems have always and will always stand up for our state's universities, which have been seen their budgets negligently slashed by Republicans for years. But we have also always stood up for Arizona's poor families and hard-working teachers who have been scapegoated and sacrificed in the name of conservative ideology.

"There is still an opportunity to work together to achieve both of these goals. We do not disagree with Governor Ducey's university bonding proposal. So long as our cities and towns are held harmless, it is a reasonable way to put a meaningful band aid on the damage that years of Republican neglect have caused.

"But rather than work with Democrats in true bipartisanship, Governor Ducey and Republican legislative leaders have decided they would rather risk university bonding than make a humane gesture to poor Arizona families and give our teachers a truly meaningful raise.

"Until they are willing to put ugly partisan politics aside and work with us, they will lose that gamble."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

LD7 Senator Peshlakai's Resolution endorsing AZ Veterans Services and Navajo Nation MOU is unanimously adopted

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Senator Jamescita Peshlakai released the following statement on the Legislature's unanimous adoption of her Senate Concurrent Resolution 1028.

SCR 1028 expresses the Legislature's commitment to ensuring the cooperation of the Arizona Department of Veterans' Services and the Navajo Nation in an effort to increase the number of veteran service officers working within the Navajo Nation. The resolution officially recognizes the memorandum of understanding between the ADVS and the Navajo Nation that was signed on June 24, 2016.

Sen. Peshlakai
"SCR 1028 is a promise that the state of Arizona will collaborate with the Navajo Nation Veterans' Administration to have their staff federally accredited and working under the umbrella of the state Department of Veterans' Services. When implemented, this will be the first time tribal veteran service officers are able to file federal Veterans' Administration claims and benefits applications for our tribal veterans," said Senator Peshlakai. "This significant improvement will change the lives of many tribal veterans, their families and communities by not forcing them to travel many hours away from home to be able to receive these hard earned benefits.

"As a combat war veteran, I thank my legislative colleagues for stepping up to right an incredible wrong and oversight in our state. We must act now and purposely for our patriots and forgotten soldiers."

Thursday, April 6, 2017

ESA expansion is 'next step' in wholesale dismantling of Arizona public schools

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Leaders of the Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statement on the passage of SB 1431:

"Since taking office in 2014, this governor and his Republican legislators have gleefully claimed to support public education in Arizona, despite the hypocrisy of deliberately slashing funding for years and taking every opportunity to undermine our struggling schools.

"This year alone there are bills to remove $211 million from our schools, eliminate standards that ensure our children are taught by qualified teachers, and the governor's budget proposes an insultingly inadequate 4/10ths of a percent raise for Arizona teachers who are paid the least of any state.

"By passing this legislation Republicans are enabling a system that data show subsidizes affluent families, while poorer Arizonans are unable to use ESAs because they cannot afford the remaining costs of private-school tuition.

"94% of Arizona families choose public schools for their children and 77% of Arizonans believe the state should be investing more in those schools. It is long past time for the Legislature to honor their choice by adequately funding our public schools.

"But the Republicans who control Arizona continue to chronically underfund our public schools and have now chosen to further siphon money from them by expanding school vouchers.

"During today's floor debate Senate President Yarbrough stated, 'this is a very important day in the history of Arizona.' Sadly, he is correct. Today will be remembered as the 'next step' in the wholesale dismantling of public education in Arizona."