A weekly legislative update from the Arizona Senate Democratic Caucus
Volume 1, Issue 16 Wednesday, May 8, 2019
20 by 2020 doesn't solve our school funding crisis
Republicans, having been forced to increase funding for teacher salaries last year, love to now claim that they're the saviors of education and that all our school funding problems have been solved. But that couldn't be further from the truth.
One important area of severe under funding is District and Charter Additional Assistance, which is one of our top budget priorities for this year. Additional Assistance funds things like textbooks, curriculum and technology. These are things that either wear out or become outdated after a few years.
For the last decade, Arizona's budget has suspended Additional Assistance funding for district and charter schools to the tune of $2 billion. The legislature and governor cut Additional Assistance funding during the recession and they kept cutting it even when our economy began to rebound. Only last year did we begin to partially reverse the cuts but our schools are still being shorted by $203 million this year alone. This has severely hampered our schools' abilities to provide up-to-date curriculum and materials for their students. Some schools have carpets that haven't been replaced in over 30 years.
Watch this week's Canyonside Chat on this issue with Senator Rebecca Rios and Senator Sean Bowie to learn more about Additional Assistance and why it's so important:
Watch our discussion on District and Charter Additional Assistance with Senators Rebecca Rios and Sean Bowie on this week's Canyonside Chat.
“Bipartisan” bill count
The final tally of Senate bills heard in the Senate:
While Democrats hold 43 percent of seats in the Senate, our bills only account for 7.9 percent of bills heard.
Senator Rebecca Rios spoke on the Senate Floor about the epidemic of gun violence in America after another school shooting left students dead and wounded in Denver.
100-days and counting for the current state legislative session and there’s talk that lawmakers might be working into the summer, with the budget the main sticking point. For their weekly legislative update, Arizona Horizon talked to Senate Minority Leader David Bradley and House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez.
"A diverse commission leads to a diverse bench, which advances the public's trust in having fair and just, impartial courts," said Sen. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe, charging Republicans with "jeopardizing our democracy for some political gains" on the courts and at redistricting time. "It's not going to be healthy for us going forward," he said.
“Everything in my life is meant to help people not have to deal with that kind of trauma,” said Sen. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson. “That’s the whole reason I’m in this Legislature,” she continued. “And if we can’t pass Mr. Boyer’s bill to expand the statute of limitations, then what the heck are we doing here?”
The fact that this “inconsequential” bill got all the way through the process and gun safety legislation did not is truly a “teaching moment. I’m definitely going to take this to students all around the state,” Senator Juan Mendez said.
Minority Whip Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai, a Democrat, voted against the resolution and said on the Senate floor that measles is a bigger health issue deserving of attention."I think we really need to focus on those types of things that are life-threatening and fatal, and could spread so quickly to anybody," she said.
Another Democrat, Sen. Lisa Otondo of Yuma, listed homelessness, opioid addiction and suicide rates among "issues that are much more important" than sexual content.
State Senator Martin Quezada, a Democrat, called the president’s directives a “political stunt.” “It's really just cruel and ridiculous. These are people seeking help that are in the most desperate of situations,” he said. “These are people that are fleeing. They're fleeing violence in their country. They're fleeing persecution.”
Highlights From The Past Week
This is a bittersweet week for us in the Senate because it's the last week for our legislative interns. These amazing students play a crucial role to our staff and our senators by researching and advising on policy. We truly couldn't do our jobs without their help and we will miss them. If you are an Arizona university student and are interested in being a legislative intern, click here for more information.