Category Archives: Legislature

We Told You So, Now Let’s Tell Them!

SellOut-1

News broke earlier today that Arizona Legislature leadership and the Governor had reached a deal on the budget.  Of course, knowing that the taxpayers do not want a tax increase, the Governor must have backed down, right?!  WRONG!!!

Instead legislative leaders have agreed to ask the voters to decide whether they want a tax increase on sales tax.  Here is the reason that Senate President Bob Burns gave (from the Capitol Media Service article by Howie Fischer):

Burns acknowledged that he has, until now, been adamantly opposed to hiking taxes, even to the point of simply referring the question to voters. But he said there really is no choice, saying even that $600 million in cuts, even coupled with federal stimulus dollars and other accounting maneuvers, is insufficient to deal with an anticipated $3 billion deficit.

“So my belief now is that we need to put that out there for the voters,” he said.

“If they pass the tax increase, obviously we’ll have more revenues,” Burns continued. “If they don’t I think that sends a pretty strong message to the Legislature that we’re going to have to make significant reductions.”

If they don’t, it will send a pretty strong message to the Legislature?!  We seem to recall 10,000 plus taking time out of their schedule on April 15th to protest big government, big spending, high taxes, and lack of accountability.  Now that wasn’t a message?

You know, we always hear that Republicans are going to be strong leaders for small government, less taxes and spending, etc.  Now we are hearing that they want maintain the size, growth, and spending of the current government.  Have they forgotten what they promised?

We are ripped!  Yet, we can still do something about it.  Everyone of us needs to get on the phone to our state legislators and demand that this tax increase NOT be sent to the ballot.  We have already spoken.  Call them today and tell them NO!

Arizona State Senate
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890

Info Desk: 602.926.3559
Fax: 602.926.3429
Toll Free: 800.352.8404

Arizona House of Representatives
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890
Info Desk: 602.926.4221
Toll Free: 800.352.8404

If you are unsure who are legislators are, please visit here: http://www.azleg.gov/

Please contact your legislator today!

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Look Out Taxpayers, They Are Going to Blow It

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We are not happy.  Nope, not one bit.  Zilch.  Zero. Nada.

We have all watched intently on the budget discussions over the past several months unfold in the legislature concerning the budget fix of 2009 and the budget for 2010.  Many of us have spoken with our legislators, attended Townhall forums, and listened to economists say that raising taxes (even temporary ones) during a recession is a very bad idea (and could be catastrophic).

In fact, we would even opine that the communication has never been better between our elected representatives and the voters in many regards.  Legislators have heard our voices loudly and clearly to NOT raise taxes.  Many of us expressed what a great opportunity we have to shrink the big government of the Napolitano administration.  Many legislators spent long hours figuring out ways to cover the huge gaps between income and expenses.  They even came up with a plan and a budget was sent to Governor Brewer for approval.

And then…

Early in the week, we heard that Governor Brewer is not happy with the budget proposal sent to her and will even shut down government if an agreement cannot be reached by July 1.  The latest word now is that Senate President Bob Burns said that there is a tentative agreement to ask lawmakers to refer a sales-tax to the ballot, though no specifics have been outlined or official announcements have been made.

Say what?!  We think we made it pretty clear at the TEA parties in Tucson and Phoenix and in our conversations with our legislators that we don’t want more taxes — even if they are temporary.

Let us point out a few points to the Governor and the legislature:

  • We don’t want more taxes.
  • We want small government.
  • We don’t want more taxes.
  • We don’t care if you shut down government.  We don’t want more taxes.
  • We don’t want more taxes.  We are taxed too much already.

Also, what is interesting to note is that the tentative agreement indicated that if the vote went to the ballot, the language would provide directives where the money, if approved, would be sent to specific accounts like education.  Here’s a problem… the vast majority of the spending for education is in administrative costs not in the classroom.  So, even if the vote passes, money still would not be going to the classroom.  Rather, it just would be eaten up by administrative costs.

If the legislature and the governor want to do right by the taxpayers and for Arizona, they need to remain focused on a very simple thought — Shrink Government.  Then, and maybe then, our mood will change to happy.

Robbing the Taxpayers — Or How We Can Save Money and Promote Liberty

azcapitolWhen Diane Sikokis’ does her job the taxpayers lose.  When Diane does her job well, the taxpayers lose doubly.  She serves as the Director of Government Relations for Maricopa County, making her the lead lobbyist for its policy issues.

Over the weekend, the Arizona Republic had a puff piece interview with Ms. Sikokis discussing how difficult it is for her to do her job in this present political and economic climate.  As if the interview were not disgusting enough because of its lack of substance, there was gross negligence for failing to ask reasonable questions like “Why does Maricopa County need a lobbyist?”.

There are two excerpts from the interview that I would like to draw your attention to.  The first question is a follow up to a discussion of Maricopa County not being able to cut any further because of mandates:

Q: Would Maricopa County consider legal action?

A: Yes. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that if the state approaches us in such a way . . . this board is no longer to be accountable and answerable to the taxpayers who elected them to do the jobs that they need to do because they’ve taken all of the revenue that we count on and depend on. Then yes, I think this board would look at all of their options.Sikokis

The second excerpt that I think is worth pointing out is:

Q: Who do you consider the county’s allies at the Capitol, and which relationships need some work?

A: Certainly the governor. Our board strongly considers both the Senate president and House speaker friends. We feel like we have an excellent relationship with all of the legislative leadership and certainly the members that comprise the Maricopa delegation. We really appreciate the out-of-county members as well. The problem seems to be those legislators who perhaps are not keeping an open mind on the governor’s five-point plan . . . the more conservative Republican legislators in both bodies.

[emphasis added]

In other words, Ms. Sikokis is not only openly admitting that the county is advocating for a tax increase during a recession, which in turn will trigger an economic depression, but is also blaming conservatives for being a roadblock to the tax increase flying through the Legislature.

As I mentioned above, there is one element that is not being discussed.  Why is it that we even need taxpayer-funded lobbyists?  Essentially, we are paying for employees of government to head to the legislature to lobby for more of our money.  That, my fellow patriots, is insane.

GI BuildingThe Goldwater Institute has a great report that they published in 2007 by Benjamin Barr.  I strongly urge you to visit their site and download a copy.

Here is the dirty little secret that Maricopa County is not telling you but the Goldwater Institute discovered.  Maricopa County, as of 2007 when this report was published, had 85 taxpayer-funded lobbyists.  Now, imagine the tax dollars that are allocated just to pay for salaries.

Thus, we are left with a natural conclusion.  Maricopa County can make more cuts — starting with reducing the number of lobbyists on staff — if they were interested in doing what is best for the taxpayers of Maricopa County.  Unfortunately, much like the empty rhetoric Ms. Sikokis in this train-wreck of an interview, Maricopa County is only interested in growing government on the backs of an already stressed economic base — us.

Monday News Update

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 Here are the top stories that we are following today.  If we missed one, please let us know.  Please check back later for our commentary on today’s news story.

Arizona Daily Star

Consultants rap Kino Hospital’s tab to taxpayers

Supreme Court needs new look, senators say

School districts plan for all-day kindergarten

State resolution to feds a silly waste of time

 

Arizona Republic

Follow the cash: Charities spent bulk of it on salaries, expenses

An Arizona Republic investigation examines how a charity network is able to legally inflate its finances.
Guide | Don Stewart: In pursuit of God’s reward | More
Day 1: Charities benefit from loopholes | The series

Senators want justice with wide experience

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s search to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter should extend beyond the current roster of federal judges, senators from both political parties said Sunday.

Full-day kindergarten program to continue

School districts across the Valley are preparing to continue offering full-day kindergarten next school year because they’ve been assured the popular program won’t be cut by the Legislature.

Hopis fighting to keep ruins open to public

As the Legislature grapples with a $3 billion budget shortfall for fiscal 2010, Homolovi Ruins, the only state park dedicated to Native American culture, is among facilities that could face closure as Arizona State Parks anticipates budget cuts.
Tour Homolovi Ruins State Park

Pima County considers parks closures, fee hikes

Pima County supervisors are expected to consider closing facilities and making other cuts to its parks department in an attempt to head off a budget deficit.

Phoenix news briefs

PHOENIX – The Arizona Supreme Court will consider the CityNorth incentive-agreement case on June 1

Scottsdale/Northeast Valley news briefs

SCOTTSDALE – Residents are invited to a pair of open-house meetings this month to learn about a proposal to improve Pima Road from McDowell Road to Via Linda.

Scottsdale tourism budget takes big hit

The city bureau expects a 25% drop in funding.

Don’t slash funding for education in Ariz.

John Wright: Don’t cut funding for education.

  

Mohave Daily News

Supervisors to discuss salvage yard
KINGMAN – A Mohave Valley recycling and salvage yard will get a look Monday by the county supervisors.
FULL STORY

 

Phoenix Business Journal

Grand Canyon University planning major expansion

University pays $50M for site it had been leasing, plans to build new 5,000-seat event center, dormitory and library, as well as expanding its classroom facilities.

 

Sierra Vista Herald

Property tax reformers prepare to hit streets

Monday, May 4, 2009 2:15 AM MST
ELFRIDA — As supporters of property tax reform prepare to hit the streets with petitions in hand, organizers are visiting communities to get the word out about Prop 13 Arizona.

Fast Facts from AZ Department of Education

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Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the legislature and budgets but I think it is important to note some fast facts.  Our facts today come from the AZ Department of Education and they are worth noting:

ADM went from 859,023 in 2004 to 951,117 in 2008.   This is an INCREASE OF 10.7%.

Number of Administrators went from 2,804 in 2004 to 3,305 in 2008.  This is an INCREASE OF 17.9%.

Number of Classified Managers went from 2,374 in 2004 to 3,030 in 2008.  This is an INCREASE OF  27.6%.

Number of Teachers went from 47,396 in 2004 to 53,883 in 2008.  This is an INCREASE OF 13.7%.

Average Teacher salary went from $42,324 in 2004 to $49,331 in 2008.  This is an INCREASE OF 16.5%.

Superintendents salaries went from $12,837,427 in 2004 to $19,188,361 in 2008.  This is an INCREASE OF 49.5%.

Total state aid went from $3,179,994,562 in 2004 to $4,453,747,156 in 2008.  This is an INCREASE OF 40%.

Based on this information from the Arizona Department of Education, it appears that those areas that saw the biggest increases were in administration not the classroom despite the dramatic increase of state aid.  Sometimes the facts just speak for themselves.

Thursday News Stories

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Here are the news stories that we are following today.  Please, if we have missed one, let us know!  Commentary will arrive later today.

Arizona Daily Star

§  County officials foresee tax increase

§  AZ sales tax collections declined again in March

§  Montana set to challenge gun control

§  Charter change would tie officials’ hands

§  Catalina Foothills crisis is rooted at Legislature

 

Arizona Daily Sun

§  City layoffs down to a dozen
In the end, it will be an even dozen. That’s how many Flagstaff city employees are likely to be laid off starting July 1, City Manager Kevin Burke said Wednesday.
 

§  FUSD readies budget override
Flagstaff Unified School District officials are taking the first steps toward putting a budget override on this fall’s ballot.

 

§  Maricopa Co. checking its take-home fleet
PHOENIX (AP) — In these tough economic times, Maricopa County is assessing the need for taking a county-owned car home.

 

Arizona Republic

§  State treasurer sheds light on Ariz.’s loans

Arizona’s first foray in borrowing in its modern history cost just over $38,500 in interest, state Treasurer Dean Martin reports. He warned that more borrowing is on the horizon as the state grapples with budget shortfalls.

§  Bennett unsold on Gov. Brewer’s tax plan

Secretary of State Ken Bennett, whom Brewer appointed to his current job, parted company with his patron on the tax-increase issue, saying he could not swallow a central piece of the governor’s plan to address a $3 billion budget shortfall for 2010.

§  One U.S. agency didn’t get memo about openness

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has ignored repeated requests from The Arizona Republic for information about sexual assaults. The BIA needs to release its investigative records and save time, taxpayer dollars and embarrassment.

§  Group challenges state to ‘expect more’

To combat the quite-real perception that too many Arizonans are indifferent to quality education, a business-education-philanthropic coalition has launched ”Expect More Arizona,” a campaign to entice the state’s students and parents to raise their performance expectations.

 

The Daily Courier

§  Cities worry about state plans for local impact fees 

§  State water agency faces 56-percent cut

 

East Valley Tribune

§  Ariz. Democrats assail Republicans over flu

House Democrats are trying to make political hay out of the swine flu outbreak, saying Republican budget cuts have left Arizonans more at risk.

 

Phoenix Business Journal

§  ADOT gets first stimulus money

The Arizona Department of Transportation is one of the first state agencies to start awarding contracts with stimulus money. The Phoenix Business Journal will have extended coverage of the stimulus efforts and the economy starting in this week’s edition.

 

Sierra Vista Herald

§  Fort gets more stimulus money

FORT HUACHUCA — More than $4.5 million of federal economic recovery funds have been approved for eight construction projects aimed at making the fort more energy efficient, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ office said Wednesday.

Judge Shows That Some Workers Are NOT More Equal Than Others

You Are Fired 

There was an important article in today’s East Valley Tribune about the recent layoffs of government employees because of the severe financial constraints that we are experiencing.  Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Andrew Klein ruled on Monday that the union request to reinstate workers let go due to the state financial issues and to halt future layoffs has been denied allowing for the firings to stand and the layoffs — should they be necessary — to continue.

Klein, in his opinion said that the agencies “did their best to make informed, good faith decisions as to which employees had to be let go.’’  According to the article, this does not resolve the issue as there is still litigation that is ongoing to test whether the firings were legal.

However, the biggest news of this article was not necessarily the decision of the court but that the true intentions of the union appeared.  The state director of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Scott Washburn had this to say after the ruling when asked about the union’s next move:

“We don’t have a friend in the governor, we don’t have friends in the Legislature,’’ he said. Washburn said the ultimate solution would be to “change the politicalSEIU Logo makeup’’ of state government.

“The people that are running it now are ideologically opposed to government,’’ Washburn said. “And the people that we represent work for government.’’

The dirty little secret is what is buried within this comment.  To SEIU, this is about growing big government, growing the number of members to their union, and ultimately growing the amount of money and power of the SEIU.  This had little to do with what is best for Arizona taxpayers who are stuck footing the bill.

In his comments, we also see what the intended plan is for 2010 election cycle.  The governor and the legislature are now in the crosshairs of the unions who will do everything that they can to steal away the power from the taxpayers and the elected officials that we put in office so that the SEIU can pad their pockets with more union dues and big government jobs.  It is up to us to maintain our pressure and beat back the unions from getting established within Arizona state government.