Monday, November 23, 2015

Begay announcement is no surprise

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement on Senator Begay’s belated announcement that he is a Republican:

“Senator Begay’s decision to change his party affiliation comes as no surprise. We knew from the time of his appointment to fill former Senator Jackson’s seat in 2013 that he was hand-picked by Republicans who have no problem disenfranchising an entire legislative district to serve their own agenda,” said Senator Hobbs.

“Next year the voters of Legislative District 7 will have a chance to choose a Senator who will truly represents their values.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Executive orders on immigration are necessary, not ‘lawlessness’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Catherine Miranda, chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus, released the following statement on Friday’s ruling by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that blocked a series of President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

Sen. Miranda
“I am deeply saddened after hearing the news regarding the negative 2-1 decision made by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding President Obama’s DAPA plan, which protected roughly one third of all undocumented immigrants in the United States by giving them lawful presence and authorization to work in the country,” said Senator Miranda.

“To state that this Republican-led 26 state charge against puts a halt to DAPA based on the ‘President’s lawlessness’ like the Texas Attorney General did is ludicrous. When the partisan nature of the U.S. political system leads to attrition, a leader must make a timely decision for the sake of four million human beings living in the United States. It is not lawlessness, it is simply needed action for the prosperity of many whose lives still remain in an unfortunate limbo.

“A blow to like this one is surely disheartening but not lethal, especially to myself and many other state and federal legislators who have worked tirelessly to support our immigrant constituents. I will continue with reinvigorated passion to fight for the cause.

“The untimely decision of the court may lead to the case being settled after President Obama’s term expires. This means that now more than ever, the Hispanic and Latino vote will be paramount in deciding the future of these four million immigrants. I urge you to get out and vote; vote for a president that will support and aid in our fight for immigrant’s rights!”

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Rep. Sherwood appointed to LD26 seat

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement on the appointment of Representative Andrew Sherwood to the open LD26 seat left vacant after the resignation of former Senator Ed Ableser:

Sen. Hobbs
“Representative Sherwood is a dedicated legislator who represents his community with passion and energy,” said Senator Hobbs. “We look forward to having Mr. Sherwood join our team and working with him to fight for his district’s priorities and moving all of Arizona forward.”

Friday, October 30, 2015

Plan was a needed compromise

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Catherine Miranda (LD27), chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus, released the following statement on the education lawsuit settlement plan passed today:

Sen. Miranda
“There’s still much work to be done with regards to K-12 education funding, but let’s keep in mind what the task and the goal at hand was today - settling a lawsuit,” said Senator Miranda.

“As a Democrat, voting in favor of the three bills today was by no means easy for me, but I had to keep in mind that this was an all or nothing package - I saw no point in casting a symbolic vote. Prolonging the settlement of the lawsuit by only partially supporting the plan would only hurt the children and teachers that so desperately need the funding. The Democrats had a good plan that was dismissed and it saddens me to see members of the senate express themselves in a derogatory matter that frankly greatly diminished the arduous work that the democratic legislators put into devising that plan. As legislators, we must not let our vision be clouded by anything that will take the focus off what we were elected to office to fight for - the people of Arizona and their best interest. Perhaps it wasn’t the ideal compromise, however I saw it as the course of action that I needed to take in order to support Arizona’s education.”

“Still, I look forward to continuing the forward trajectory in the next session,” Senator Miranda concluded.

Lawsuit settlement is, sadly, the best Legislature is willing to do

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement on the education lawsuit settlement approved today:

Sen. Hobbs
“The education funding lawsuit settlement approved today, with bipartisan support, is imperfect but will ultimately provide some desperately needed support to our struggling schools,” said Senator Hobbs.

“Legislative leaders are parading the settlement as a great thing for Arizona. Yet these are the exact same people who willingly cut school funding by billions of dollars over the last eight years, the same people who illegally ignored the will of Arizona voters by refusing to fund inflationary increases and the same people who are only here today because a lawsuit from our schools forced them.

“Democratic legislators have always been the champions for education at the Capitol, which is why we proposed a responsible plan that would have fully settled this lawsuit with money already in state coffers, immediately and without the need for voter approval.

“Our children deserve better than shell games, but they also deserve to learn in schools that aren't suffering from neglect. While we would have preferred our schools be made whole, as the court ordered, we recognize the fact that this settlement was sadly the best this Legislature is willing to do right now. But right now, something is better than nothing for our children.

“For years, Democrats have fought consistently and vigorously to defend our schools from a majority dead-set on seeing them wither. Our constant drum beat raised awareness of the state of our schools and built the public pressure that forced these parties to the negotiating table. We will return next session undaunted and steadfast in our fight for the full funding our schools need to achieve.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Statement on the passing of former legislator Jack Brown

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX - Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Steve Farley released the following statement on the passing tonight of former legislator Jack Brown:

"I am so sad to share that legendary former legislator Jack Brown, my friend and mentor whom I first met when he was Assistant Minority Leader my first year in the House, passed away this evening at the age of 86," said Senator Farley.

"He was a true gentleman who was first sworn in to the Legislature representing St Johns when I was three weeks old. During our time serving together, he told me wonderful stories of legislators working together to support investments and policies that benefited everyone. I miss his calming drawl, his cowboy good sense and his heart of gold."

"We mourn for his wife Beverly and their family. The people of Arizona share in your loss."

Legislature must collaborate on bipartisan schools settlement

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX - Senator Barbara McGuire released the following statement on a possible special session to settle the long-term school funding lawsuit:

Sen. McGuire
"For years our schools have suffered from devastating cuts made by the majority-controlled Legislature that have forced our children to learn in large class sizes, from outdated textbooks and in buildings that are in dire need of repair," said Sen. McGuire.

"It's long past time for our state to make our kids' education a priority, which is why I'm hopeful that when we finally see language on the school funding lawsuit settlement it will be a strong first step toward doing what's right for Arizona's schools. The Legislature must come together with a bipartisan solution to invest in education, without catches or gimmicks, and ensure a strong and vibrant future for our children and for our state."

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cesar Chavez High School football players exemplify leadership

Will be honored during tonight’s Monday Night Football broadcast

– Senator Catherine Miranda, chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus, released the following statement on the Cesar Chavez High School football team being featured in tonight’s Monday Night Football broadcast.

The team was chosen because of their 7-1 record, with a good chance at the playoffs, and for their volunteer efforts with Arizona Cardinals youth clinics.
Sen. Miranda

"I am always eager to highlight student achievement, whether it be academic, athletic or altruistic. These student athletes have won the pride and admiration of their community through their excellence on the field and their service in youth football camps," said Senator Miranda.

"They've earned their time in the national spotlight tonight and Arizona couldn't be more proud of them.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

K-12 Education Town Hall - Tucson

If you missed our Tucson K-12 Education Town Hall or just want to watch it again, watch below.

And if you want to review our presentation slides from the town hall, click here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Legislative Democrats announce education funding plan

Puts money into classrooms now without raising taxes, protects future funding

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today Arizona Legislative Democrats released an education funding plan that will give public schools nearly $4 billion, without raiding funding from future generations and without increasing taxes.
Sen. Hobbs

“Our plan will put nearly $4 billion into public schools over the next 10 years, protects the long-term health of the state land trust fund, and puts dollars in the classroom now,” House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), said.

The Democratic plan provides sustainable funding, unlike other proposals that would create a shortfall in funding for future generations. This plan:

  • Supports the belief that education is a long-term investment and the foundation for Arizona’s future economic success
  • Provides nearly $4 billion for public education during the first 10 years and protects funding levels after that
  • Does not rob future generations by harming the principal of the state land trust fund
  • Rep. Meyer
  • Does not raise taxes and can be implemented immediately

Meyer added that concerns are mounting about the governor’s idea to cut into the principal of the state land trust’s permanent fund. Arizona State Treasurer Jeff DeWit recently criticized that proposal, in part because it creates a fiscal cliff in five years and hurts the principal of the fund.  The Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimates a loss of $3.2 billion in value under Ducey’s proposal.

“The plans put forth by Arizona's Republican leaders are not much more than smoke and mirrors,” said Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix (District 24). “Our responsible plan puts desperately needed dollars immediately into classrooms without stealing from the state land trust or First Things First, without requiring uncertain voter approval, and without setting up our state to fall off another fiscal cliff. Our kids deserve a sound, sustainable plan to fund our schools.”

The Legislative Democratic proposal maintains the existing distribution of funding from the state land trust proceeds, which is currently 2.5 percent, and the $74 million inflation increase approved in the 2015-2016 fiscal year budget. It will allocate new revenue from the $278 million in projected 2015-2016 fiscal year surplus to K-12 funding in the current fiscal year and $250 million in ongoing revenue to school funding in future years.

Additionally, the plan would freeze the expansion of the corporate school tuition organization tax credit program beginning the 2016-2017 fiscal year to produce an additional $10 million in revenue dedicated to the K-12 budget. This will ensure that funding levels can be maintained. Existing tax credit funds for STO scholarships would not be reduced under the plan.

“Under our plan, Arizona schools will immediately receive desperately needed money without having to wait for an unguaranteed approval by voters,” said Hobbs. “And our plan leaves resources in the general fund to address the critical needs of child safety and higher education. It's a plan that protects our children and honors the state's commitment to their future.”

Meyer agreed.

“Arizona has the resources to fund public education. Our plan shows that. It has always been a matter of making it a priority,” Meyer said. “The Republican leaders in the state so far have offered ideas that jeopardize the future of education funding. We can’t afford to waste time on gimmicks, Arizona needs a sustainable education funding plan now.”

Click to download a full 10-year analysis of the Democratic education funding plan.

Friday, September 25, 2015

McGuire: DPS leadership, law enforcement diligence keeps all Arizonans safe

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Barbara McGuire, ranking Democratic member of the Senate Public Safety, Military & Technology Committee, released the following statement on the recent arrest of a suspect in the I-10 shootings:
Sen. McGuire

"I want to commend Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead and his entire DPS team who worked diligently to find the first break in this case," said Senator McGuire. "I knew when my committee and the Senate as a whole confirmed Director Milstead's appointment that he had the experience and leadership skills to run DPS, and we've seen that leadership at work in this case.

"The I-10 shootings case is still active and there is much hard work yet to be done. I want DPS and all law enforcement agencies involved in the case to know that the people of Arizona have faith in you and deeply appreciate everything you do to keep us safe."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

We cannot allow SB1070 to serve as an excuse to racially profile

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – In light of Judge Susan Bolton's ruling to upholdsection 2(b) of SB1070, Senator Catherine Miranda, chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus, is preparing a bill to ensure that section will not be used to racially profile Arizona citizens and visitors.

Sen. Miranda
"Racial profiling is unconstitutional, pure and simple. It violates the public trust in law enforcement and erodes our sense of community and safety," said Senator Miranda.

"With Judge Bolton’s ruling upholding the section 2(b) of SB1070, most commonly known as the “papers please” provision, I am meeting with stakeholders to introduce legislation to ensure this section of the law will not be used to target any ethnic group based on their skin color, but implemented fairly and without regard to a person’s race.

"While this ugly law still hangs like a dark cloud over our state's reputation, I will do everything in my power to make sure it doesn't hang over the heads of hard working Arizonans and the visitors who are so crucial to our economy."

Friday, August 28, 2015

Senator Ableser appointed to Nevada education position

Will serve LD26 until end of September 

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXSenator Edward Ableser has accepted a professional opportunity in Nevada and will serve in his seat until September 30th, 2015.

Sen. Ableser
Senator Ableser has been appointed by the Nevada State Superintendent of Public Instruction to be the founding director of the new Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment in the Nevada Department of Education, beginning October 1st.

According to the Nevada Department of Education, in his new position:

"Dr. Ableser will oversee a new office in the Department that is dedicated to providing a safe and respectful learning environment for all Nevada students that is free of bullying and cyberbullying. The office will establish programs and training to prevent, identify and report incidents of bullying and cyberbullying and monitor compliance of school districts with the program. The office will also administer a new grant program that provides funding to place social workers or other licensed mental health care workers in schools."

A long-time advocate for the well-being of Arizona children, Senator Ableser earned his doctorate in Justice and Social Inquiry from ASU and owns a private counseling practice in Tempe.

"It is not an easy decision to leave Tempe and our great state of Arizona, but the opportunity to enter the world of education in a position to help so many children have a learning environment free of fear, while also being closer to family, is one I cannot pass up," said Senator Ableser.

"I am deeply proud of the work my fellow Democrats and I have accomplished over the near decade I've been at the legislature. We have fought for what's right and we've been the voice for those who don't have the power or resources to be heard on their own."

"I'll continue that legacy in my new role, implementing Nevada's honorable commitment to protect its children and their learning environment."

# # #

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Private prison safety & costs are too great a risk for AZ

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXSenator Martin Quezada, Senate Democratic Whip and ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement on the cancellation of Management & Training Corporation’s contract to operate the Arizona State Prison Complex-Kingman and the release of Arizona Department of Correction’s investigation into the July riots that occurred there:

Sen. Quezada
“Terminating MTC's contract for the Kingman prison complex was the right thing to do, but many troubling questions remain unanswered,” said Senator Quezada.

“The Department of Corrections has always assured the legislature that they maintain strict oversight of private prisons, yet now they claim ignorance of the many failures detailed in their investigation. They can't have that both ways.

“It's not only time to assess the safety of every private prison in Arizona, as DOC says they will, it is time to assess the effectiveness of DOC's own oversight protocols. And it is long past time that we assess the true cost of private prisons to ensure no more Arizona taxpayer money is wasted in the private prison industry.

“In today's press conference, Governor Ducey said that private prisons are the "least bad alternative." We disagree. Escaped murderers and riots are not a risk we should be willing to take. That is why we are calling for the cancellation of next month's RFP for 1,000 more private prison beds, a full and independent accounting of DOC's private prison oversight capability and a cost/benefit analysis of building and operating our own state-run prisons.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Republican leadership continues to fail AZ schools

Senator Katie Hobbs, Senate Democratic Leader
Senator Steve Farley, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader
Senator Martin Quezada, Senate Democratic Whip
Senator Lupe Contreras, Senate Democratic Whip

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Caucus Leadership released the following statement on failed settlement talks in the K-12 inflation funding lawsuit and Republican legislative leaders’ vague proposal to increase educational funding:

“For years Republican leadership refused to fund education as required by voter initiative, refused to fund education when ordered by the courts and now they refuse to admit they are the problem, not the solution, for our state's educational failings.

“Don't believe the Republican spin; they are not coming to the rescue of Arizona schools. Republicans created the dire situation we are in by prioritizing tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy over the future of Arizona children. Even in the new budget passed this year, Republican leaders failed to fully fund the K-12 inflation funding lawsuit. Yet they gave away millions more in special interest tax cuts.

“With regard to inflation funding lawsuit settlement talks, Governor Ducey says he's "disappointed that has failed." Well, we are too. We are disappointed that Republican leaders refused to negotiate in good faith. We are disappointed they chose to announce a plan hatched behind closed doors with no clear source of funding. And we are deeply disappointed Republican leaders have left our children with struggling schools, overcrowded classrooms, crumbling buildings and a dysfunctional Department of Education.

“It is long past time for the Republican legislative leadership to step up, settle the inflation funding lawsuit and get the money flowing to classrooms throughout Arizona. We call on Senate President Andy Biggs, House Speaker David Gowan and Governor Ducey to end the legal posturing, call a special session and agree to a proposal that will fully fund the lawsuit settlement out of the General Fund budget and in a sustainable manner this school year. The citizens of Arizona are waiting and watching. Don’t let our schoolchildren down once again.”

Monday, August 24, 2015

Federal government must follow judge’s order, promptly release children

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX –Senator Catherine Miranda, chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus, released the following statement in response to Friday evening's decision in Flores v. Lynch by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee that detained immigrant children should be released within five days.

Sen. Miranda
Friday's ruling answered the government's response to Judge Gee's July settlement agreement in the case. In its response, the government claimed conditions in family detention centers had already been improved according to the settlement. Judge Gee found that not to be the case and has given the federal government until October 23rd to implement her ruling.

"We have long known that immigrant families and children have been housed in sub-standard detention centers, both here in Arizona and in other states," said Senator Miranda. "The conditions in which they are being held were seen by state leaders and the media last year in Nogales and universally deemed to be unacceptable and inhumane."

"That 'surge' of immigrants has since subsided and now is the time for the government to accept judge's ruling and adopt policies that improve conditions at detention centers and expedite the release of children to their parents."

Monday, July 20, 2015

Don’t let false allegations lead to damaging witch hunt

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement on today’s statements by Governor Ducey and Attorney General Brnovich on false allegations of illegal tissue sales occurring in Arizona:

Sen. Hobbs
“Today Governor Ducey and Attorney General Brnovich released strongly-worded reactions to a stunt set up by a political group whose goal is to damage Planned Parenthood. The group's video was heavily edited to make it appear Planned Parenthood's voluntary tissue donation program is illegally selling tissue, which it does not. In fact, Planned Parenthood Arizona does not even have a tissue donation program,” said Senator Hobbs.

“What Planned Parenthood does do is provide health care to millions of women, including birth control, STD testing and treatment, cancer screenings and abortion. For thousands of Arizona women, especially working poor women, Planned Parenthood is their main source of health care.

“It is entirely proper for Governor Ducey and Attorney General Brnovich to raise concerns of possible illegal activity in Arizona and their calls for investigations would be justified if there were legitimate proof of illegal tissue sales occurring in Arizona. But in this case there is no such evidence and a video hatchet job by political extremists does not justify a witch hunt.

“As Governor Ducey and AG Brnovich work to tighten up existing laws that already make tissue sales illegal, I ask that they resist the urge to launch investigations that could harass and intimidate Arizona women and their health care providers.”

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Trump/Arpaio event represents Arizona of past, not future

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX –Senator Catherine Miranda, chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus, released the following statement on Saturday’s visit to Arizona by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump:

Sen. Miranda
“With Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's event on Saturday where he will be appearing alongside disgraced Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Arizona has the chance to send a message to the rest of the country that it does not stand with men who spout hateful rhetoric and participate in blatant fear mongering,” said Senator Miranda.

“Trump's claims that Mexican immigrants bring with them drug and crime, even going so far as to label them rapists, are a throwback to a divisive era from which we are still recovering and to which we must never return.

“It is disgraceful to allow Mr. Trump to speak in our state, welcomed both by a politician facing federal hearings into his department's racially-motivated practices and by the Maricopa Republican Party. They represent the Arizona of SB1070, of divisive politics that deeply scarred our state's image and damaged our economy when it was already struggling.

“They don't represent the Arizona of today, where we have been making strides to celebrate our diversity and show the world we are open for business. The governor's recent trip to Mexico City shows just how far we have come from the dark days of 2010 and how we are striving for better relations with our neighbor and largest trade partner.

“A person like Mr. Trump who thinks that spiteful comments demonstrate leadership is, in fact, demonstrating exactly why he has no business running for our nation's highest office. Arizona must send a strong message to Mr. Trump and the world that he and his vitriol have no place in today's Arizona, where we are all working hard to build a strong, enduring and mutually beneficial relationship with Mexico and a bright future for our state.”


Monday, June 29, 2015

Ariz. Legislative Democrats Respond to Supreme Court’s ruling on the IRC

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Arizona House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), and Arizona Senate Democratic Whip Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), made the following statements in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission:

House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28):
Rep. Meyer

“Arizona voters said that they want an open, transparent and fair redistricting process, which is why they established the Independent Redistricting Commission. The Supreme Court decision today protects the will of the voters and will help prevent partisanship and political ambition from influencing the redistricting process.  Our state is better served by having a body, independent of the Legislature, in charge of this important task.”

Senate Democratic Whip Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29):
“Today was a victory for the people of Arizona and for fair representation in Washington, D.C. The court listened to the citizens of Arizona, honored their desire for independent redistricting, and made a decision in the best
Sen. Quezada
interest of our state and country that ensures a government of and by the people.

“Having free and fair elections is of the utmost importance to the preservation of our system of government. In light of this decision, I hope to see more states adopting IRCs and putting power into the hands of the people.”

Friday, June 26, 2015

The institution of marriage has been strengthened

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic leaders released the following statements on today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming the right to marriage for all Americans.

Sen. Hobbs
Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs:
"Marriage is about love, commitment and family - qualities that are not exclusive to just a man and a woman. And America is about freedom - a quality that, despite what many opponents claim, is not infringed upon by this ruling. From this day forward freedom for every American is stronger than ever," said Senator Hobbs.

"Even with this ruling there is still much to be done to achieve true equality in Arizona where it is still legal to be fired because of your sexual preference. We won't stop until every law that discriminates against LGBT Arizonans is struck from the books."

Senate Democratic Whip Martin Quezada:
Sen. Quezada

"The American institution of marriage and its ideals of love, equality and family have been strengthened today," said Senator Quezada.

"Over the last decade there has been a sea change in Americans' belief that every person deserves to be considered equal under the law. Many states have passed laws granting these rights, while others like Arizona have made shameful attempts to legalize discrimination against our own people.

"It is the role of the courts to uphold the Constitution, even if the democratic process doesn't move as quickly. Today's ruling reaffirms the sacred American value of individual freedom."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kearny River Fire response has showcased the best of our community

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Barbara McGuire, LD8, released the following statement on the latest news from the Kearny River Fire:

Sen. McGuire
“I am thrilled to see the Kearny River Fire Incident Command team report they have contained 80% of the fire's perimeter and forward progress has been stopped at slightly over 1,400 acres burned with no further movement expected today,” said Senator McGuire.

“While it appears the threat is passing for what has been called our state's most dangerous fire so far this year, there is much work to be done and high temperatures coupled with low humidity still present dangerous fire conditions.

“This fire has shown the strength of our community, with neighbors helping neighbors and assistance arriving from across the state and nation. I appreciated Governor Ducey keeping me informed of the state's efforts and was happy to see the Federal Emergency Management Agency authorize federal funds to help offset our firefighting costs.

“I must express my heartfelt gratitude to Incident Commander Bob Arthur of the Arizona State Forestry Division, his team of over 80 personnel and all who have vigorously fought this fire from the beginning and protected our community.

“I pray for their continued success and safety.”

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ducey plan may help short term but isn’t a permanent fix

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate and House Democratic leaders released statements on Governor Ducey’s proposed plan to distribute more money from the state-land trust.

Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs:
Sen. Hobbs

“This week the U.S. Census released a report showing Arizona spends less on K-12 education than any other state. The source of our education funding crisis is the systemic failure of Republican legislative leadership and the governor to fully fund education at the level dictated both by the people of Arizona through Prop 301 and by the constitution of our state,” said Sen. Hobbs. “While Governor Ducey's proposal could put much needed dollars in Arizona schools in the short term, it is yet another band-aid on our kids' schools unless part of a broader, permanent solution to their funding woes. His plan only covers ten years and only works if the economy is stable over that time. What's more, if next year's budget looks like this year's, any gains from this plan could be negated by discretionary funding cuts made by Republican leaders.

“The negligence of Republican leaders to fulfill their responsibility to Arizona children can only be remedied through an honest settlement to the ongoing inflation funding lawsuit and a consistent and sustainable source of sufficient funding for our schools.

“Our priority should be to settle the lawsuit first, then consider this proposal. We certainly hope Governor Ducey honors his commitment to collaborate with education stakeholders, public school districts, charters and all members of the legislature to craft a plan on which we can all agree.”

House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer:
Rep. Meyer

“Arizona schools need money for classrooms, students and teachers now. We can’t afford to wait until 2017. If the governor is serious about getting resources into classrooms, he should agree to pay the more than $330 million in inflation funding that the courts have ruled our schools are due,” said Rep. Meyer.

“The governor’s plan might be part of a broader solution, as long as the money goes to classrooms and does not deplete the state’s constitutionally protected school funding nest egg for future generations. If this is the best option the governor can come up with, it’s not enough. It could increase per pupil funding, but after years of Republican education cuts, it will only be a drop in the bucket. This could be one part of a comprehensive plan to increase education funding, but it is not a solution in and of itself. The issues our schools, children and teachers are facing will require a long-term plan to increase investment in our classrooms.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

In opposing DAPA, Arizona opposes economic development and public opinion

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Catherine Miranda, chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus, released the following statement urging Attorney General Mark Brnovich to drop Arizona’s lawsuit to block implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA.

Sen. Miranda
“Every politician in this state agrees that economic development is important for our state’s future, but not every politician makes that their priority. Attorney General Brnovich’s refusal to drop Arizona’s lawsuit against DAPA demonstrates the misplaced priority that is placed on playing politics with the lives of hard working members of our communities rather than focusing on helping them and our economy,” said Senator Miranda.

“Despite many bills in Congress addressing the demand for skilled workers and allowing immigrant entrepreneurs to thrive in America, Congressional leadership allowed none to advance. Despite a recent report from the Center for American Progress showing the massive economic benefits of DAPA’s implementation, Arizona and other states celebrate the actions of an ideologically motivated judge’s decision to block DAPA. This is not what the people of Arizona want and it is not what the people of America want.

“On Saturday we all sat in the old Arizona Capitol celebrating the legacy of Governor Raul H. Castro. At that ceremony, attended by leaders from both parties, great praise was lauded on the man many call our first “dreamer,” who crossed the border without documentation, earned his education and utilized his talents to become one of our state’s great leaders.

“Attorney General Brnovich should honor Governor Castro’s legacy by removing Arizona from the lawsuit to stop DAPA and Arizona’s leaders should embrace those who are already contributing members of our communities because they promised to put economic growth first and because it is what the people of Arizona want.”

Thursday, May 7, 2015

In-state tuition is a victory for dreamers and Arizona

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Catherine Miranda, chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus, released the following statement on the Arizona Board of Regents’ decision to grant in-state tuition to Arizona dreamers.
Sen. Miranda

“Today is the day for which Arizona's young dreamers and our Latino communities have long hoped. Finally our dreamers will be able to seek higher education at an affordable cost, fulfill their dreams as college graduates and soon join our economic workforce to help build a stronger Arizona,” said Senator Miranda. “I know that by allowing dreamers access to our state universities we will see an increase in these students applying, attending and graduating. These are students that have been oppressed for far too long and they are ready to bring innovation to our economy.”

“Thank you, Regents, for your courageous decision and for putting the best interests of Arizona first. I am delighted in the outcome of this decision and optimistic for the bright future in store for Arizona.”

Affordable college for dreamers will benefit all of Arizona

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXSenator Martin Quezada released the following statement on the Arizona Board of Regents’ decision to grant in-state tuition to Arizona dreamers.

Sen. Quezada
“This week's ruling and today's decision by the Board of Regents to grant in-state tuition to Arizona dreamers is excellent news for our state as it will make it easier for us to have an educated and competitive workforce,” said Senator Quezada. “I am hopeful our Republican leaders finally recognize that their opposition to providing access to a higher education to these students places them on the wrong side of history and ultimately only harms us all as Arizonans.”

“I am thankful that more students can now afford to pursue a higher education and be contributing, positive and influential members of our society for whom we can all be proud.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

After time, money and a court ruling, Arizona finally must do what’s right

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Catherine Miranda, chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus, released the following statement after a Maricopa Superior Court judge ruled that immigrants granted deferred deportation status by the Obama administration are eligible for in-state tuition.

Sen. Miranda
"This victory for Arizona dreamers is long overdue and will open the opportunity for them to improve their career prospects and contribute even more to their communities," said Sen. Miranda. "There is still work to be done, however, toward granting in-state tuition at our state universities. I met with regents this week to discuss that effort and am encouraged to see progress in the right direction on their part."

"While this ruling is cause for celebration, it's a shame it has taken time, money and a court ruling to get here. Our state's leaders should have made the right decision on in-state tuition for dreamers the first time."

Monday, May 4, 2015

Cuts to higher education taxes students, families and our future

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement on today’s approval of tuition increases by the Arizona Board of Regents.

Sen. Hobbs
“Once again Arizona students will pay more to study at our state universities, with tuition at UofA topping $11,000. The U.S. Census says that's more than a fifth of the median household income,” said Senator Hobbs.

“Republicans blame the universities and our regents for these increases, yet they are the ones who put our higher learning institutions in the impossible position of balancing their books while seeing their state funding cut in half since 2008 - more than any other state..

“Those Republicans also proudly proclaim they didn't raise taxes. The truth behind this charade is that cutting almost $100 million from our universities in this year's budget is a burden put squarely on the backs of Arizona students and families, taxing their ability to avoid graduating with crippling student loans.

“The Arizona Constitution clearly states that university tuition ‘shall be as nearly free as possible.’ It's time to respect that tenet and ensure our state has an educated and innovative workforce that isn't just paying off debt, but able to invest in homes, their families and our state's future.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

McGuire on the 2016 Arizona Budget

Note: This editorial appeared in the March 12th edition of the Casa Grande Dispatch

This year's budget, which was rammed through the legislative process in just over 48 hours, trades
Sen. McGuire
short-sighted cuts for long-term damage to our state. The harm done to rural Arizona will be especially acute.

My LD 8 seatmates in the House initially sided with me to oppose the budget, but traded their votes for protecting Pinal Community College's budget from elimination. While I am grateful that funding to our community college was restored, the overall net result of the budget is hardly a good deal for the people of Pinal County.

Left on the cutting board was vital funding for public education. Our state universities will see a $99 million cut (fully 14% of their classroom funding), and our public schools will get a new $113.5 million reduction to their fund for classroom materials and supplies and capital dollars. This new cut is on top of reductions already in place to district additional assistance and will leave our schools financially struggling to retain quality teachers. In addition, the education funding lawsuit remains unresolved despite the fact that Arizona’s Legislature has been ordered to increase funding to our K-12 schools. This budget also phases out funding to the Casa Verde High School STEM Academy and eliminates all the additional aid they receive for this program by fiscal year 2017.

The Department of Child Safety will see a $10 million reduction despite 16,900 kids currently in state care, and the backlog of cases is rising, not falling.

Even more damaging to Arizona's rural communities is the 5% provider rate reduction for Medicaid. Coupled with the loss of federal matching dollars, that cut adds up to more than half a billion dollars that will disappear from our state's economy. This will put the many rural clinics and hospitals at risk of closing, in areas where there are often no alternatives.

In their blind quest for "fiscal responsibility," the crafters of this budget decided to shirk as much burden on to counties and towns as possible. Counties must now house all juvenile inmates in their own facilities and we also have to pay the state more than $10 million for collecting our own taxes. Does that sound fiscally responsible to you?

A common thread throughout all of their budget cuts was targeting programs that help Arizona's young, our rural areas and our needy. With cuts to counties, schools, health care and programs like the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, we can see who our state's leaders do not consider to be a priority.

Many legislators sold their votes for small things here and there. In doing so, they endorsed a short-sighted budget that will detrimentally affect Arizona for years to come.

I stood with the families of my district and refused to sell out their future in exchange for a few silver coins in the budget. I've got your back, and no one can convince me to back down.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Statements on the passing of Governor Raul H. Castro

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Senate Democratic leaders released the following statements on the passing of former Arizona Governor Raul H. Castro.

Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs:
“From the humble Sonoran mining town of Cananea to our state's highest office and representing our nation abroad as ambassador, Governor Castro was a true Renaissance man. A public servant with compassion for every member of his community, he understood the power of education for those who dream big,” said Senator Hobbs.

“He was a leader who demonstrated the dignity of selfless service in pursuit of equal opportunity for all, a quality to which all of Arizona’s leaders should aspire.”

Senate Democratic Whip Martin Quezada:
“Governor Castro was a man who embodied many things to many people. For young Latinos like myself, who grew up in this state and wanted to be leaders, who wanted to create opportunities for our people and to have a voice in determining the future of our state, Gov. Castro served as a beacon - a living example of what our potential could actually be,” said Sen. Quezada.

“As we mourn the loss of a great man like Raul Castro, we also see these young leaders and know that through it all, Raul Castro broke down a barrier and opened a door that can never be closed. Descanse en paz Señor Castro.”

Senator Catherine Miranda, chair of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus:
“Governor Raul Hector Castro, Arizona's first and only Hispanic governor, was an influential leader whose career spanned international borders, ethnic barriers and generations. With tenacity and dignity he worked his way through college, earned a law degree and used his professional career to serve his state and nation,” said Sen. Miranda.

“Next session I will introduce a proclamation to honor Governor Castro’s memory and recognize his legacy as a pioneer in Latino leadership – a legacy that continues with every young Latino who chooses to serve their community and make it a better place for future generations. Governor Castro will be dearly missed but his contributions to Arizona and the world, and his groundbreaking legacy for Hispanics everywhere, will last far beyond his rich lifetime.”

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.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Senate approves Begay bill that protects Tribal children

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Carlyle Begay, LD7, released the following statement on the passage of his bill SB1080 (tribal social services agencies; information).

About SB1080:
SB1080 allows mandatory reporters to report child abuse or neglect to tribal law enforcement or social services agency if they suspect an Indian minor who lives on a reservation has suffered abuse. Mandatory reporters include medical practitioners, peace officers, child safety workers, the parent or guardian, school personnel and any other person who has responsibility for the care and treatment of the minor.

The bill also authorizes the Department of Public Safety to share criminal justice information with tribal social services agencies for the purposes of background checks on prospective adoptive parents and custodians of juveniles, and to investigate or respond to reports of child abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Senator Carlyle Begay:
Sen. Begay

"In every community there exists the critical need to build robust collaborative partnerships between government, law enforcement and social service agencies - both state and tribal. SB1080 will strengthen that collaboration and help ensure children on tribal lands are just as protected as those who reside on state land," said Senator Begay.

"By working together, sharing resources and information, our state and tribal social service agencies will handle life-changing situations in ways that make a positive difference in the lives of the people they serve.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Senate Approps passes Begay bill to help Tribal students attain higher education

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Carlyle Begay, LD7, released the following statement on the passage of his bill SB1220, including the strike-everything amendment that would create the Tribal College Dual Enrollment Program Fund.

The strike-everything amendment to SB1220 would allow Arizona’s Tribal colleges to help offset costs for dual-enrolled students. Dual enrollment permits a high school student to earn community college credit at both their high school and Tribal college. Arizona's three Tribal community colleges (Dine College, Navajo Technical University and Tohono O’odham Community College) each offer dual enrollment programs.

Tribal colleges would be reimbursed from the Tribal College Dual Enrollment Program Fund for tuition and fees that are waived for dual-enrolled students.

Senator Carlyle Begay:
Sen. Begay
"Dual enrollment proves advantageous for students in our Tribal communities. It allows them to ease the transition from high school to college and get a head start on a college career," said Senator Begay. "There is evidence that it also promotes high school graduation and improves a student's likelihood of remaining in college.

"We need to encourage more of these programs in rural and Tribal areas and this bill does just that."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Senate again chooses to restrict women’s personal health choices

Majority refuses to protect doctors from being harassed, threatened for doing their jobs

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement on the Senate’s passing of SB1318, which would ban most abortion coverage for Arizona women who purchase plans on the national health care exchange. Senator Hobbs offered a floor amendment that would protect the personal information of doctors who perform abortions. That amendment was defeated.
Sen. Hobbs

“Whether you are for or against abortion coverage, we should all be able to follow common sense and agree that doctors who perform abortions should have their personal identifying information protected from those who would harass or threaten them and their families.,” said Sen. Hobbs.

“This is not a "solution without a problem" as many bills that pass through this chamber can be called. Sadly, doctors who perform abortion in this country have been assaulted, kidnapped and murdered by anti-abortion fanatics.

“Republican legislators, who are public officials, currently have a bill to hide their own personal information from the public because they are afraid of harassment and threats. Yet they think that doctors should be left open to harassment and threats.

“Instead of restricting a woman's right to make her own healthcare decisions, which SB1318 does, and creating hypocritical double standards, we should be focusing on bipartisan efforts to reduce the need for abortion in the first place.”