Tuesday, June 25, 2013

SCOTUS decision will wash away minority voting rights

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Steve Gallardo released the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act:
Sen. Gallardo

“For over 40 years the Voting Rights Act has ensured the voices of Arizona's minority voters cannot be suppressed. Numerous attempts by the Republican-led Legislature at discouraging minority voting have failed to obtain preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice,” said Sen. Gallardo. “Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the preclearance formula, isn't perfect but it is crucial to ensuring fair representation for our minority communities and certainly should not have been declared unconstitutional.”

“By asking a gridlocked Congress to fix this provision, Chief Justice Roberts and his conservative colleagues know full well that they have doomed this law to the waste bin. I fear history will show this decision to be the opening of floodgates washing away decades of progress and with it the voting rights of minority Americans.”

Without preclearance formula, minority voters lack protection

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader Leah Landrum Taylor released the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key section of the Voting Rights Act.
Sen. Landrum Taylor
“Arizona is the poster child for why preclearance is needed as much today as it was when Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement fought to create this historic protection of minority voting rights,” said Sen. Landrum Taylor. “Just look at what we've seen so far this year: one of our state's top law enforcement officers was found guilty of racial profiling; the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the voter ID law; and new elections laws were passed and signed by Republicans that will disenfranchise minority Arizona voters.”

“Today our nation's top court has effectively neutered the historic Voting Rights Act by stripping the formula to determine which states must comply with preclearance. The right to vote is the foundation upon which our democracy is built. With today's ruling and Arizona's new election laws going into effect, that foundation is at risk of crumbling.”

Friday, June 14, 2013

Legislature passes Sen. Jackson bill to fund tribal airport improvements

Tribal airports will finally qualify for funds they have been contributing to for years

State Capitol, PhoenixSenator Jack C. Jackson, Jr. and Representative Albert Hale released the following statements on the Legislature’s passage of Sen. Jackson’s bill, Senate Bill 1317.

SB 1317 allows Indian reservations to receive monies from the State Aviation Fund for planning, design, development, acquisition of interests in land, construction and improvement of publicly owned and operated airport facilities on land that is held by an Indian or Tribal government.

The State Aviation Fund receives revenue collected primarily from taxes on aviation properties and fuel and from aircraft registration fees. These are paid by all sources, including tribal airports, yet for decades the statute that created the State Aviation Fund ignored tribal facilities.

SB1317 corrects that exclusion and allows the State Transportation Board to award grants from the State Aviation Fund to make improvements at any of the 14 tribal airports in Arizona.

Senator Jack C. Jackson Jr.:
"Arizona's tribal airports are critical to the entire state for commerce and emergency transportation as well as bolstering our tourism industry," said Sen. Jackson. "By finally qualifying for the State Aviation Fund resources to which they have long been contributing, they will be able to improve their facilities and ensure their long term viability."

"It is deeply gratifying to see this legislation finally pass after years of hard work. Crucial support was given by the Arizona Airports Association, as well as Representatives Hale and Peshlakai and the Navajo Nation Division of Transportation. I respectfully request that Governor Brewer sign this important piece of legislation.”

Representative Albert Hale:
"I am thankful for the support this bill received and that the members of the Arizona House and Senate recognized its importance,” said Rep. Hale. “This legislation addresses public safety issues within Indian Nations. Current law prevents Indian Nations from accessing state resources designated for airport improvements. Many of the airports in our communities are in need maintenance and repair work. This becomes readily apparent during medical emergencies that require air transportation. Some of the airports are just not equipped to handle these situations safely. This legislation will help correct that problem.”

“It is also important to remember that people living in Indian Nations are taxpayers. They deserve an equal share of state resources and services."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bipartisan budget balances needs of AZ with fiscal responsibility

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic leaders released the following statements on the adoption of a state budget during the Fifty First Legislature, First Special Session:

Senator Leah Landrum Taylor (District 27), Senate Democratic Leader:
“This budget is a result of bipartisan collaboration and represents a delicate balance between the needs of Arizonans and the resources available to the state. It reflects priorities that will encourage our economy's improvement, protect vulnerable adults and children and help our schools to begin recovering from the $2.9 billion in cuts they've seen over the past few years,” said Sen. Landrum Taylor.

“Including the expansion of AHCCCS in this budget is the responsible decision for Arizona, both fiscally and morally. Hundreds of thousands of low-income Arizonans will soon qualify for healthcare and we will see billions of our hard-earned federal tax dollars return to our state.

“Today we did what's right for the people of Arizona and for the future of our state.”
Senator Linda Lopez (District 2), Assistant Democratic Leader:
“The vulnerable children of Arizona have suffered long enough. Today we dedicated $64.4 million in new funding for Child Protective Services to provide supportive and preventative services and more case workers to make sure our children are safe,” said Sen. Lopez.

“We must do everything in our power to ensure our kids are living in safe conditions and stay with their families. Protecting them is protecting the future of Arizona.”
Senator Anna Tovar (District 19), Senate Democratic Whip:
“The budget passed today invests $116 million in our kids' schools and $31.7 million for our universities. While that is just a drop in the bucket compared to the cuts they have suffered, it's an important step toward seeing our education system improve and succeed,” said Sen. Tovar.

“We have always stood for finding common-sense solutions to the challenges facing our state and today we delivered on that promise by working across the aisle with fellow legislators and the governor's office and by standing up for the people of Arizona.”

Senator Jack C. Jackson Jr. statement on budget passage with support for Navajo Technical College

State Capitol, Phoenix – Senator Jack C. Jackson, Jr. released the following statement on today’s passage of the state budget, which included funding for the Navajo Technical College to build a permanent campus in Chinle, Ariz.

Sen. Jackson
“The Navajo Technical College is a crucial resource for the people of my district and the Navajo Nation,
especially given the region’s struggle with economic and job opportunities,” said Sen. Jackson.

“Since opening its two Arizona campuses beginning in 2006, Navajo Technical College has shown retention and graduation rates that far exceed the national average and its students are entering the workforce with high-demand skills like computer science and engineering. This budget directs much needed funds to help Navajo Technical College continue and expand its successful mission of education to even more members of our community.”

“There is great demand for higher education in my district and I’m proud to help Navajo Technical College with the support it needs to set permanent roots in our community and continue its growth and success.”

Navajo Technical College Facts

  • 1979- The Navajo Skills Center was established to meet the growing demand for higher education.
  • 1985- The Skills Center became the Crown Point Institute of Technology in Crown Point, New Mexico, when the Center started to offer Associate Degrees.
  • 2005- The College changed it’s name to Navajo Technical College (NTC) in part because of it’s expansion of educational services, including Bachelor Degrees on the Navajo Nation.
  • 2006- NTC opened an instructional site in Chinle, Ariz.
  • NTC is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, North Central Association for Colleges and Schools.
  • NTC was recently recognized as one of the top 120 colleges in the United States by the Aspen Institute College Excellent Program. For this distinction, community colleges must demonstrate high standards for learning, college completion without delay, and successful training grounds for jobs that pay competitive wages. 
  • As a top forming college, NTC provides technical education, vocational programs, and courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 
  • NTC now offers a Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineer and recently applied to the Higher Learning Commission for permission to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Natural Resources.

Enrollment, Retention and Graduation
Since 2006, NTC has provided classes out of temporary buildings and Chinle High School and currently serves 436 students. As one of the most successful minority institutions of higher learning in the United States, NTC student retention rate exceeds 65% every year and has an overall graduation rate of 81%.
Job Placement
Out of 191 graduates from 2011, 47% were placed in jobs and 42 students continued their education. 58 students didn’t respond to the survey. Although NTC has a job placement counselor on staff, collecting data or tracking students is a challenge due to the poor infrastructure needs of the area (no internet, poor telephones, etc.).