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.