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 battle over the budget this year at the Arizona Legislature created some clear winners and losers.
Some of them were the usual suspects — Democrats lost again this year, but in some new ways. Others were new to the budget game — the conservative Center for Arizona Policy is used to winning via legislation, but a successful push to defund Planned Parenthood came as a last-minute budget surprise.
READ MORE: Arizona lawmakers pass $9.8 billion budget
These are the budget’s biggest winners and losers:
Gov. Doug Ducey: The governor, who wants to be known as the “Education Governor,” walked away a clear winner, getting nearly everything he asked for in the $9.8 billion budget.
Although the Legislature made changes to some of his big asks — such as the $1 billion university-bonding package and the speediness of the teacher raises — in the end, the Republican governor dominated. He gets extra points for passage of a bipartisan university package, with the majority of Senate Democrats jumping on board when it became clear Republicans in the chamber would pass the measure even without the minority party’s support.
Even better, the measure gives him political cover dating to 2015, when he slashed their budgets. Expect this to be a dominant theme in his 2018 bid for re-election.
“Freedom schools”: The billionaire Koch brothers, whose network of so-called “dark money” supported Ducey’s 2014 campaign for governor, have provided funding for these centers at Arizona State University and University of Arizona.
To woo conservative Republicans to support the university-funding package, Republicans agreed to give the schools $2 million — however, the money came at the expense of the universities’ general expenditures. The schools are aimed at advancing free-enterprise ideals, and conservatives think they are a counterbalance to what they see as liberal-leaning state universities.
Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and the Arizona Board of Regents: The state’s public schools will get extra bonding authority that will allow them to build new research facilities, attract more federal grants and forge new business partnerships.
Cities and towns: They successfully fought a proposal to divert their share of sales-tax collections to the universities. The cities that are home to the public universities will benefit from the expected construction projects that the $1 billion bonding package will fund.
Rural Arizona: Rural communities successfully secured the other half of highway money — $30 million annually — that has been routinely taken since the Great Recession to help pay for the state police.
Taxpayers: They will get a small tax break, estimated at $4 per family, due to a $100 increase in the individual income-tax exemption over the next two years. Combined with Ducey’s plan to index the exemption to inflation, the adjustment is expected to take about $10 million from the general fund over the next two years.
Michael Crow, president of ASU: Two years ago, the president of Arizona State University publicly inserted himself in the budget debate at the Capitol as lawmakers sought to make even deeper cuts to the state’s schools. This year, he won over skeptical lawmakers to secure extra bonding that will fund new research facilities.
Commercial developers: Passage of the university-bonding plan means some in the construction industry could be in line for projects worth up to $1 billion near the universities. The state also approved $100 million in aid to help build six new schools in Chandler, Vail and Queen Creek.
Democrats in the Legislature: When Ducey’s university-bonding plan seemed headed nowhere, Democrats reached out to say they could help on that issue — if they could get 4 percent raises for teachers. The prospect of Democrats shaping the budget led Republicans to fall in line on a budget that grew more conservative. In the end, Democrats motivated Republicans and got nothing for it.
However, the House Democrats get a nod for standing united as they pushed for what they said is their overriding priority: the 4 percent teacher raise. That led them to vote against the bonding package, even though they have historically championed the universities.
Arizona’s poor: Arizona’s cash-assistance program for poor families has the shortest benefit period in the nation: one year, with strict lifetime limits. Democrats had hoped to restore it to two years through the budget. However, the policy is in a separate bill that has yet to get a vote in the Senate. Watch for possible action this coming week.
Disability providers: The agencies that provide services to Arizonans with developmental disabilities say they have been hammered by the increase in the state minimum wage because their state contracts don’t cover the higher costs.
They got $33 million but say it likely won’t cover the requirement to pay sick leave (starting July 1) nor a 50-cent per hour increase in base pay that kicks in Jan. 1. Lawmakers have tried to assuage their fears by saying they can return to the Capitol later to seek more money if funding falls short.
Planned Parenthood: The conservative Center for Arizona Policy successfully pushed to write Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers out of the federal program that funds reproductive-health services such as birth control, cancer screenings, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy testing for low-income individuals.
President Donald Trump earlier this year signed legislation allowing states to withhold federal Title X family-planning funds from clinics that also provide abortions. The funds already cannot pay for abortions directly.
Arizona wasn’t affected at the time because its Title X funds are allocated through non-profit organizations. The budget changes that, requiring the state Department of Health Services to directly allocate the funds, which total about $5 million a year.
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone: The budget cut $1.6 million from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for gang enforcement. Several Republican lawmakers said the money was intended for illegal-immigration enforcement and said they didn’t believe Penzone was interested in pursuing illegal-immigration violations. Instead, they directed most of the money to process rape kits and sent the remaining $400,000 to Pima County, where voters recently elected a Republican sheriff.
Penzone, a Democrat, criticized what he described as partisan politics and said the real losers are citizens.
“We are aggressive in our efforts to intercept and apprehend drug traffickers off the I-8 corridor, one of the top drug-trafficking corridors throughout the state and possibly influential throughout the nation,” he said. “The funding that was taken from this office directly affects our operations.”
READ MORE: AZ lawmakers strip gang-enforcement funding
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone speaks to the press about what he calls a partisan punishment that doesn’t hurt him personally, but the sheriff’s deputies and people of Maricopa County. Patrick Breen/azcentral.com
Arizona Board of Regents: The regents earned a spot in both categories. While they won by getting the bonding deal, the suggestion of a potential lawsuit by Board of Regents President Eileen Klein if lawmakers denied the universities the $1 billion package nearly derailed the entire measure. Her comments threatened the collapse of the university-bonding deal in the final hours, and, when coupled with Board of Regents Chairman Greg Patterson’s earlier clothes-shaming remarks toward GOP Rep. Mark Finchem, could inflict long-term damage on the regents’ relationship with conservative Republicans.
State employees: Once again, rank-and-file workers in state government will get no across-the-board pay raises, continuing a string of stagnant wages. Bonuses were granted in certain circumstances.
Buses, buildings and books: The budget included $17 million for K-12 school repairs and $63 million for new-school construction. But it continued a years-long policy of not restoring cuts to soft-capital funding for things like buses, books, technology and curriculum.
Under a prior school-funding lawsuit, the state committed to providing about $200 million a year for soft capital. But officials whittled the amount away during and since the Great Recession. Schools currently get about 15 percent of that. It’s part of the focus of a lawsuit that schools and education leaders filed last week accusing the state of unconstitutionally underfunding school infrastructure.
Teachers: They’re getting a pay raise that pencils out to about $1,000 over the next two years. It’s more money than Ducey proposed in January, but short of the 4 percent that some of the teachers’ loudest advocates wanted.
A majority of Arizona schools are experiencing a teacher shortage, according to an ASU Morrison Institute report, and low pay may be at least partly to blame.
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