Friday, April 27, 2018

Walkout could be ended if legislature, governor willing to work with education leaders, Democratic colleagues


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement on the lack of progress toward resolving the teacher walkout:

“Yesterday, as well over 50,000 Arizona educators, parents and students gathered at the Capitol, no action was taken to resolve or even discuss the education funding crisis that brought us to this point. While Democratic lawmakers gave impassioned floor speeches urging action to properly fund public schools, Republican lawmakers chided our dedicated teachers for standing up for themselves and our governor hid in his tower giving carefully scripted interviews about his unsustainable plan. As the rally reached its zenith at the front doors of the legislature, our Senate and House majority leaders quietly gaveled floor to a close and slipped out the back door for three days away from the work we were elected to complete. Shame on them.

"Let me be very clear, Senate Democrats would be happy to be in session all day today and into the weekend if we were working across the aisle, and with education leaders, on a sustainable plan to fund the 20 percent pay raise our educators deserve. The devil is in the details and we support this pay increase only if all classroom and instructional support personnel are included in a raise that is responsibly funded. Numbers matter. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimates that Governor Ducey’s plan would lead to a $265 million cash shortfall in FY’20, growing to $302 million in FY’21. 

"The biggest reason that this plan has not already been enacted is that our Republican legislative colleagues can also do the math. The governor’s rosy revenue estimates, fund sweeps and starving of other budget priorities is not sustainable over time or what the voters want. Passing this budget on the back of critical care providers for our developmentally disabled community, cutting funding to our universities, not protecting KidsCare in future years and continuing to shift state responsibilities to our cities, counties and towns is both fiscally and morally irresponsible. And increasing our sales tax to the nation's highest save California would put an exponentially greater burden on Arizona's poor and middle class. They shouldn't have to pay for tax cuts this state has given away to corporations and the wealthy.

"My Democratic colleagues and I are here to serve the people of Arizona, not on our schedule but on theirs, and they are demanding action now. We are, and always have been, eager to work with whoever is willing to find meaningful solutions, not simply to recite talking points at us. Working with people who share different viewpoints than your own can be challenging, but the results from doing so are what has made our nation and our state a place where people from all over the world yearn to live.

"That's democracy. Let's give it a try.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Senator Catherine Miranda welcomes DACA ruling, urges DHS to keep program



STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Catherine Miranda today welcomed US District Judge John Bates’
Sen. Miranda
decision giving the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 90 days to provide the legal rationale behind the Administration’s decision to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This is the third federal judge that rebukes the Trump administration’s attempt to end DACA but the first to order DHS to accept new applications. It is also the first judge appointed by a Republican president to issue such a ruling, which underscores the bipartisan consensus on the legality of the DACA program. The lawsuit was brought, among others, by Princeton University; highlighting the importance of this issue to the nation’s higher education system and economic security.

“Beyond the legal basis for the decision, DACA is simply good policy for America. The fact that one of the plaintiffs in this case is Princeton University shows once more that Dreamers are some of our best and brightest. You don’t deport the next Einstein because he crossed a border illegally as a child. You don’t get rid of the doctor who could save your life because you resent that her parents brought her here 20 years ago when she was six years old. The American people realize that and reject the Trump administration’s throw-out-the-baby-with-the-bathwater approach to governance,” said Senator Miranda.

Senator Miranda is a member of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), which represents the voices of more than 400 Hispanic state legislators from across the country, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, which also celebrated the court decision and warned the Trump administration not to terminate the program until a permanent solution is enacted by Congress and signed into law.

NHCSL recently approved an emergency resolution regarding DACA and the DREAMers during the group’s annual Summit in Chicago, IL in February. The resolution states that: “…the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators urges Congress to take action with no further delay to stop the uncertainty with which thousands of families are living regarding DACA preferably by granting that pathway to citizenship or, at least, by extending DACA while a deal can be reached that creates that pathway…”

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NHCSL is the premier national association of Hispanic state legislators working to design and implement policies and procedures that will improve the quality of life for Hispanics throughout the country.  NHCSL was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3 with the mission to be the most effective voice for the more than 400 Hispanic legislators.  For more information visit www.nhcsl.org.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ducey budget unsustainable according to legislative forecast

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic leadership requested and has received from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee an updated long-term forecast of Governor Ducey's budget plan based on this month's Finance Advisory Committee revenue forecast. This forecast projects a cash shortfall of $265 million for FY20, increasing to $302 million by FY21. These numbers are in sharp contrast to the governor's claim of a $73 million balance in FY20 and $3 million in FY21.

Projected cash balances
Forecast
Fiscal Year 2020
Fiscal Year 2021



JLBC (FAC)
$(265) million
$(302) million
Ducey Budget
$73 million
$3 million
Source: Joint Legislative Budget Committee, Finance Advisory Committee

"After a decade of seeing their school budgets cut to the bone, Arizona's educators and students deserve to see those cuts reversed in a significant and sustainable way. Unfortunately, the governor's proposal relies on shell games and Pollyannish forecasts that don't reflect the reality of our state's revenues," said Senator Hobbs.

"As we've said all along, legislative Democrats are ready to sit down and roll up our sleeves with our Republican colleagues and the governor to find a sustainable way, utilizing realistic revenue forecasts, to restore funding to our starved public schools. Our kids, educators and classroom support personnel deserve better than another year of irresponsible budgeting and empty promises."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Democratic Leaders Respond to Ducey Budget Plan


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs (D-24) and House Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios (D-27) released the following statements on Governor Ducey's budget proposal:
Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs (LD24):
“At the beginning of this legislative session nobody thought we'd be talking about giving educators a 20 percent raise. The credit for making that happen rests entirely with Arizona's dedicated and passionate educators who made their voices heard.

“After years of neglect and empty promises, our educators deserve an iron-clad commitment that their raises will be delivered and be permanent, but Governor Ducey's plan to pay for them raises serious sustainability concerns and forces other state services to suffer.

“Right now we have the opportunity to sit down with legislators, the governor and, most importantly, educators to find a way to fund a 20 percent raise as quickly as possible and not subject to the whims of legislative appropriation or economic fluctuations. This increase should also cover other instructional and classroom support personnel.

“We've been advocating for meaningful increases to K-12 funding and educator pay for the decade since Republicans started slashing education funding. Now that Republicans finally agree with the goal of increasing educator pay, we must work together to ensure the execution of that goal is done sustainably and responsibly.”

House Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios (LD27):
“Make no mistake, Democrats strongly support 20 percent pay increase for our public-school educators, and doing it without shifting funds from other education priorities. We have been pushing for a real, meaningful, sustainable pay increase for our educators for years. We stand with all educators -- teachers, counselors and all support staff – who have led the incredible Red for Ed movement.

“Thanks to them, the Governor has made an abrupt about face on this issue in the right direction. However, as details of his proposal emerge, it's clear he is not having an honest conversation with Arizonans. We must raise educator salaries in a sustainable way without taking much-needed money away from universities (that are training our workforce), environmental protections (that keep our air and water clean), healthcare and other services for Arizona's most vulnerable populations.  

“We need to bring educators to the table with all stakeholders to find a reliable, dedicated and sustainable funding source for education. We need all revenue options on the table to do this right, not simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. We are ready to make the tough decisions to do this correctly.

“As it stands, Governor Ducey is cutting vital services and making a risky bet on perpetual revenue growth in a state with a historically cyclical and sometimes volatile economy. If Arizona experiences an even slight downturn, the demand for AHCCCS and other vital services will go up, pitting those services against education and throwing this budget out of balance. There are better options.”

Friday, April 6, 2018

Senator Peshlakai bill establishing official Native American Day is signed into law

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX - Senator Peshlakai released the following statement after her bill SB1235 was signed by Governor Ducey, establishing June 2nd as Native American Day and an official Arizona state unpaid holiday. With an enactment date of 90 days after the end of the legislative session, Arizona will celebrate the inaugural Native American Day on June 2nd, 2019.
Sen. Peshlakai

"It is an immense honor to have my bill passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, creating an official state holiday that honors Arizona's 22 sovereign tribal nations and their members," said Senator Peshlakai.

"Our indigenous people have called these lands home for millennia, from the Four Corners to the Colorado delta and everywhere in between. Our ancestors built towering cliff dwellings and the great canals that still irrigate the Valley of the Sun. We have fought overseas for our country and we drive innovation that will lead Arizona forward.

"The native peoples of Arizona are an integral part of Arizona's history, its culture and its future. I look forward to the inaugural celebration of Arizona's Native American Day next year and thank my colleagues and the governor for their support in making this happen. Ahe'hee'."

Monday, April 2, 2018

DACA students deserve same chance as their peers to opportunity

Congress, not Arizona, must clarify our immigration laws

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Catherine Miranda (LD-27) released the following statement after attending today's Arizona Supreme Court oral arguments on the legality of Arizona DACA students qualifying for in-state rates of university tuition. The case was brought by the Maricopa County Community College District on behalf of the students.
Sen. Miranda

"This is not an issue that can or should be determined by individual states because Congress, through federal law, has not been clear in its intentions. Immigration is a federal issue and Congress must have the moral and political courage to clarify our immigration laws and protect our nation's young immigrants," said Senator Miranda.

"Taking away in-state tuition will once again harm our future entrepreneurs, our future doctors and lawyers. These hard-working students have earned their place in our state universities and deserve the same opportunity to learn as their classroom peers. This attempt to do so is just another mean fear tactic intended to make our immigrant community afraid once again."