The Arizona Republic’s politics team discusses teachers’ “boat parade,” a protest for pay raises; the upcoming state budget; and what’s up with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.
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The Republic’s political team on April 25, 2017, talks about the latest political news affecting Arizona, including the protests surrounding the future of school vouchers and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s donation controversy.
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The Republic’s political team on April 18, 2017, talks about the latest political news affecting Arizona, including 2018 candidates, Sen. Jeff Flake’s town hall and how a bill to require child-welfare officials to get warrants fell apart.
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The Republic’s political team on April 11, 2017, talks about “zombie” health care reform in Congress, and the expansion of the school voucher program headed by Gov. Doug Ducey.
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The Republic’s political team on April 4, 2017, talks about the state of the filibuster and the latest on Secretary of State Michele Reagan’s “Show Me the Money” campaign.
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The Republic’s political team on March 28, 2017, talks about funding for teacher raises in the state budget, what comes next after the non-vote on the ‘Obamacare’ repeal bill in Congress and proposed restrictions on citizen initiatives in Arizona.
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The Republic’s political team on March 21, 2017, talks about the possible impact on the president’s blueprint for a budget, and the lack of female representation in Arizona’s legislative leadership.
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The Republic’s political team on March 14, 2017, talks about how much of Arizona’s delegation has been quiet about the “Obamacare” replacement, but even Republicans don’t seem to like it.
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The Republic’s political team on March 8, 2017, talks about the latest political news affecting Arizona, including a failed tax-cut bill, a congressman’s tweets and how a former state senator isn’t working at the White House after all.
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The Republic’s political team on March 1, 2017, talks about the latest political news affecting Arizona, including the state of Senate Bill 1142 and the rowdy crowds at U.S. Rep. Martha McSally’s Town Hall.
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The Republic’s political team on Feb. 21, 2017, talks about recent political news, including Trump’s Arizona announcement about Intel, McCain and Obamacare, and House Bill 2404 targeting voter initiatives.
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The Republic’s political team on Feb. 6, 2017, talks about the latest political news affecting Arizona, including how much debt is too much for the state and which lawmaker wants to be shot.
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The Gaggle: Teachers protesting, a budget afoot and what’s up with Stanton?
The Gaggle: Voucher vote, Arizona university funding
The Gaggle: DCS warrants and Flake gets scorched
The Gaggle: Health care in Congress and school voucher expansion
The Gaggle: Is the filibuster busted and will Michele Reagan show us the money?
The Gaggle: Teacher raises, ACA repeal and ballot initiatives
The Gaggle: Federal budget and few women in the Legislature
The Gaggle: Obamacare replacement, George W. in town and TANF benefits
The Gaggle: Tax that did not get cut, tweets from Gosar and a non-job
The Gaggle: SB 1142 is dead and town halls get rowdy
The Gaggle: Bigfooted, McCain and HB 2404
The Gaggle: How much debt is too much?
The public will have a chance to weigh in Wednesday on the tentative $9.8 billion budget deal agreed to this week by Gov. Doug Ducey and Republican lawmakers.
The tentative budget deal encompasses 11 pieces of legislation, including a proposal to give universities $27 million a year for 25 years to help underwrite extra bonding authority and pay for capital needs.
It will be publicly debated starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday in the House of Representative’s Appropriations Committee. The Senate’s Appropriations Committee is scheduled to debate the budget package at 12:30 p.m.
Separately, the Senate Education Committee is set to meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday to consider Senate Bill 1532, the university bonding package. The House of Representative’s Education Committee will take the issue up at 2 p.m.
Lawmakers crafted language for and formally introduced the budget legislation Tuesday, offering the first comprehensive public viewing of the substantial legislation.
The centerpiece of the budget might be 2 percent raises for public school teachers phased in over two years. Ducey initially proposed phasing them in over five years.
The most contentious portion of the budget — the university bonding plan worth up to $1 billion — will be taken up as a standalone bill. Its fate remains unclear.
Ducey has battled fellow Republicans, who opposed the initial plan to set aside certain sales tax revenues to help pay the debt. Now, the measure will need at least some Democratic votes.
The budget plan would also give localities $30 million in annual road funds that had been routinely taken by the state to help fund the state police budget since the Great Recession. This had been a sore spot for rural lawmakers.
Several of Ducey’s education proposals, intended to build on the extra money sent to public schools under last year’s Proposition 123, are included in the budget as well. Chiefly, there is $38 million for a results-based funding program that rewards schools with bonuses ranging from $225 to $400 per student for meeting certain performance measures.
The state is adding $33 million to its Medicaid program and the Department of Economic Security to help cover the higher labor costs brought about by the boost to the minimum wage under last year’s Proposition 206.
The state will spend $100 million over the next two years to help build six schools in Chandler, Vail and Queen Creek.
While public school teachers would get a raise, state employees will not. And the universities will get the same amount for operations they received in this year’s budget.
Input shapes budget, aide says
Daniel Scarpinato, a deputy chief of staff to Ducey, welcomed public input on the budget.
“There’s been a lot of public discussion and input,” he said. “To the extent that that continues … that’s important. There’s been positive feedback, and I think there’s been feedback that has shaped the budget itself.”
Public input contributed to the decision to speed up the teacher raises from Ducey’s original five-year timetable.
“It’s one of the things the governor heard was one of the most important issues in education, and that’s why you’ve seen it prioritized,” Scarpinato said.
Scarpinato said support for the budget is “headed in the right direction,” and that Ducey wants to see it passed this week.
House Speaker J.D. Mensard, R-Chandler, braced lawmakers for a long day — and likely, a long week.
Mesnard said he expected committees to spend most of Wednesday contemplating the measures, and lawmakers would spend Thursday debating the bills on the floor. He said a “healthy number” of Republicans in the House support the deal.
Mesnard said there is strong GOP support for the budget, but some members don’t support the university bonding plan as part of the overall package.
“Whether or not there’s 31 Republicans, I’m not so sure that there are at the moment,” he said, referencing the number of votes needed in the House of Representatives
Mesnard, who said he plans to vote for the bonding bill, said multiple Republicans are wavering on the bonding and budget tandem deal, “so I think it will be a moment-of-truth kind of thing” when the measures are put up on the board for votes.
“I suspect that my friends on the other side of the aisle are going to try to leverage this issue for more than the Legislature and the Republicans here at the Legislature and the governor can stomach,” he said. “Then the university bonding proposal is in serious jeopardy.”
And, Mesnard indicated, the budget deal could fall apart if lawmakers do not reach a consensus on the university funding package, which has divided Republican lawmakers. While some support the measure, others question whether the state should take on more debt.
Late Monday, Rep. Anthony Kern, a Republican from Glendale, told The Arizona Republic he opposed the bonding proposal.
“The House of Representatives has the power of the purse and when we give that away, we give away the power that we have to negotiate things that go on within the universities,” Kern said. “I just think that the people that elect us lose the power, also … and I just fundamentally disagree with that.”
But Rep. Jay Lawrence, a Scottsdale Republican, said he now fully supports the university bonding plan, and the budget.
“I think the speaker and the gov and the Senate president have done an incredible job of bargaining,” he said. Lawrence had viewed the original bonding proposal as “ridiculous” but said he now sees the overall package as one that boosts education, especially in his district, and invests in the universities, which brings broader economic benefits.
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