Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Court must uphold legally enacted Medicaid restoration

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement on today’s ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court granting Republican legislative leadership standing in their lawsuit to overturn Medicaid restoration:

Sen. Hobbs
“At a time when the state faces a massive budget deficit, legislative leadership has chosen to spend
precious general fund dollars on a lawsuit that, if successful, will further strain the state’s finances and turn our back on the hundreds of thousands of Arizonans that are receiving health insurance for the first time,” said Sen. Hobbs.

“Almost two years ago Medicaid restoration was passed legally and with bipartisan support, signed by the Governor and reinforced the voter-approved Prop 204.

“Medicaid restoration is right for the people of Arizona and for the future of our state. Hundreds of thousands of Arizonans now have healthcare, our rural hospitals and clinics are staying afloat and the state is saving millions of dollars we cannot afford to lose.

“Today’s Arizona Supreme Court ruling sets a troubling precedent. Legislators should not be able to sue every time they lose a vote. That isn’t how the legislative process is meant to work
“We are confident the Superior Court will see the frivolousness of this lawsuit and will uphold the will of the Legislature, Governor Brewer and the people of Arizona.”

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Congress must act to finish immigration reform

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Steve Gallardo released the following statement in response to tonight’s executive action on immigration: 
"It's been over 500 days since U.S. Senators McCain and Flake passed their bipartisan immigration reform bill out of the Senate, but House Republicans have refused to move it forward. Enough is enough," said Senator Gallardo.
"The national crisis of our failed immigration system needs to be resolved and the President's action today is a good beginning that will help keep families together. But it doesn't get Congress off the hook. They must enact meaningful immigration reform that will benefit our community, our economy and our security. And they must do it now."

Executive Action is important first step toward true comprehensive immigration reform

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs and Whip Martin J. Quezada released the following statements on today’s executive action on immigration reform by President Obama:

Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs:
"For far too long Congress has shown it is unwilling to address our broken immigration system, which is why President Obama took the action he did today. More than 18 months ago Arizona's own U.S. senators saw their bipartisan immigration bill pass the Senate only to sit in the House without action. The American people are beyond frustrated that Congress has refused to do their job," said Senator Hobbs.

"This executive action will help keep families together and allow those living in the shadows to come forward, register with the government and become taxpaying members of our communities. No longer will children who are U.S. citizens have to worry that their hard-working parents could be taken away from them. If you have deep ties here and want to contribute to the economic success of our state, you no longer have to hide.

"Executive action should not replace legislation. It is legal, but it certainly isn't preferable. This is an important step toward finally realizing true comprehensive immigration reform, but Congress needs to finish the job."

Senate Democratic Whip Martin J. Quezada:
"By forcing hard-working undocumented immigrants to live in the shadows, our nation and our state have been losing out on billions of dollars in economic benefit," said Senator-elect Quezada.

"When undocumented workers become documented, they are no longer prey for employers who undercut wages and working conditions. If they earn more and pay more taxes, they create greater demand for goods and services as well as potentially higher profits for businesses. The economic benefits of today's executive action cannot be understated, yet those benefits would be much greater with true legislative reform by Congress."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Senate Democrats elect new leadership

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXNew and returning members of the Senate Democratic Caucus have elected Senator Katie Hobbs as leader, Senator Steve Farley as assistant leader and Senators-elect Lupe Contreras and Martin J. Quezada as co-whips. The Caucus also selected Senator David Bradley to serve as leader pro-tem and Senator Barbara McGuire to continue her role as rural liaison.

“Our caucus is strong, united and ready to make the voices of our constituents heard on the issues that are important to them. We will bring forward good ideas with the right priorities to help set Arizona on the path to recovery and success,” said Sen. Hobbs.

“During this coming session the Legislature will have many difficult decisions to make on issues that will affect our state for years to come. We look forward to working with the majority to find real solutions that protect our children, their schools, the economy and our future.”

Friday, October 17, 2014

Historic day for equality and love in AZ

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Steve Gallardo released the following statement in response to a federal judge’s ruling that Arizona’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional:
"Today's historic decision is a victory for equality and for love in Arizona. Finally, anyone can marry the person with whom they choose to spend their life," said Sen. Gallardo. "This is a huge step in the fight for equality, but there is much more to be done before we attain true equality under Arizona law.
"We must pass an employment non-discrimination act, which I have introduced for years, to protect gay Arizonans from workplace discrimination. We almost must protect our gay and lesbian students from bullying, who every day endure harassment and attacks at school. And we must repeal our hateful policy that puts same-sex couples at the back of the line for adoptions. Every Arizonan deserves the right to not only marry who they love, but succeed on their merits at work and adopt a child into a loving home."

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pearce must resign his job or be fired

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXSenator Steve Gallardo released the following statement in response to Russell Pearce’s comments on his radio show:

Sen. Gallardo
"Russell Pearce's recent comments about women and other members of our community who receive government assistance were disgustingly intolerant and hateful,” said Sen. Gallardo. “He has no business overseeing a program tasked with assisting low-income citizens after he so clearly demonstrated his utter contempt for the people he's paid by taxpayers to serve.”

“Russell Pearce should immediately resign from his position or be fired.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Huppenthal’s pathetic ‘Hail Mary’

Demonizes immigrant children in attempt to save his political career

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXSenator Steve Gallardo released the following statement in response to
Sen. Gallardo
today’s press conference by Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal’s regarding unaccompanied children in Arizona public schools:

"The lesson Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction gave today is that when you've lost all dignity, attack undocumented children. John Huppenthal's press conference today was a "Hail Mary" by a man desperate to save his political career by pandering to Republican extremists,” said Sen. Gallardo.

“This was nothing more than a pathetic attempt to score political points less than a week before his primary election. It was also shamelessly irresponsible fear mongering by the elected official entrusted with educating Arizona's children.”

Monday, August 4, 2014

Statement on the passing of Senator Chester Crandell

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX - Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar released the following statement on the passing of Senator Chester Crandell:

"The news of Senator Chester Crandell's passing comes as a profound shock to myself and my colleagues at the Legislature. He was a leader in the tradition of Arizona's pioneer spirit, serving with integrity, respect and a wry sense of humor. I fondly recall sharing stories of community and family with Chester and I know that he deeply loved both.

"He cherished and spoke often and proudly of his wife Alice, his 9 children and 36 grandchildren. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time. 

"Senator Crandell leaves a legacy at the Legislature as a statesman of genuine character and conviction. He will be greatly missed. "

Monday, April 28, 2014

Senator Barbara McGuire wraps up a busy week and successful session

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senator Barbara McGuire wrapped up this legislative session with an
Sen. McGuire
award from members of her community, a signature from Governor Brewer on one of her bills and money for tourism and conservation districts in the budget.

Last week Governor Brewer signed into law Sen. McGuire’s SB 1164, which increases the maximum maturity period for certain sanitary district bonds.
“My bill will help our communities, including in rural areas, afford to construct, operate and upgrade their waste disposal facilities,” said Sen. McGuire. “These facilities play a crucial role in making our cities and towns livable and ready for growth.”
Also last week, Sen. McGuire was honored by the Queen Creek Unified School District for her support of their adult education program, which helps adults obtain GEDs and transition to better paying jobs or higher education.
“I am deeply touched by this honor from the Queen Creek Unified School District,” said Sen. McGuire. “Education should be a vehicle to success, not a barrier. This adult education program provides that vehicle and produces graduates who are ready and eager to improve their lives and contribute to our community. I’m so proud of these students and excited for their futures.”
Thanks in part to efforts by Sen. McGuire, this year’s budget includes $2 million to promote Arizona tourism and increased funding for our state’s natural resource conservation districts.
“Tourism plays a vital role in the economic success of rural Arizona and funding our state’s efforts to promote tourism is an investment on which we are guaranteed to see returns,” said Sen. McGuire. “Also important to our rural communities is responsible management of our natural resources. This increased support to our natural resource conservation districts will ensure Arizona agriculture remains viable and encourage economic development around our state’s natural beauty.”

Monday, April 7, 2014

After three tries, Republican budget still fails Arizona

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statements on the Republican budget passed today by the Legislature. Senator Olivia Cajero Bedford sat on the conference committee that, despite her arguments against, approved the final budget.
Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar (District 19):
"The third time is certainly not the charm for this year's Republican budget that once again fails to make investments that we can and should be making to move Arizona forward," said Sen. Tovar.
"Ever since the opening day of this session we have fought for the right priorities: improving our struggling schools that rank toward the bottom nationally in funding and performance; reforming a CPS that is in absolute turmoil and places our most vulnerable children at risk; funding preventative services that keep families together and children out of harm's way; and investing in our economic future by funding innovative research at our universities.
"For the last few weeks, however, we've watched as Senate and House Republicans have haggled behind closed doors, attempted to give away tax dollars to private prison corporations, ignored input from the people of Arizona and failed to make many of the investments that our state needs to succeed. The ramifications of this short-sighted budget will affect every Arizona family.
"Arizona can no longer afford to settle for this Legislature's status-quo of neglecting our schools, our families and our future. We must make these investments to move Arizona forward."
Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford (District 3):
"This budget fails to adequately fund our universities, including important research initiatives at University of Arizona," said Sen. Cajero Bedford.
"Higher education is an investment that brings breakthrough innovation, high-tech manufacturing, well-paying jobs and attracts more business to our state. That is how we can make Arizona competitive in the global economy."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Republican budget fails to move Arizona forward

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Caucus leadership released the following statement on the Republican budget passed out of the Senate today.
Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar (District 19):
Sen. Tovar
“The Senate budget passed today, April Fool's Day, is sadly not a joke and does not move Arizona forward. It fails to address the needs of Arizona families, our kids' schools, our state's crumbling roads and it leaves our most vulnerable children with nothing but an empty promise,” said Sen. Tovar.
“We began this session knowing that child welfare was the top priority, but the best this Republican budget can do is state an intent to revisit the issue later. That won't help the children currently living in unsafe environments.
“This budget also ignores funding for the preventative services that keep families together and children out of harm's way. This penny-wise and pound-foolish philosophy sets us up to spend far more when these kids end up in the CPS system.
“A critical part of moving Arizona forward is ensuring our children are prepared to succeed in the 21st century economy. With cuts to district charter schools and lack of investment in higher education priorities, however, our public schools and universities are once again being left behind by this Legislature.
“Democrats presented common sense amendments to address the needs of Arizonans but Republicans lacked the political will to stand with us and pass a moral budget that truly moves Arizona forward.”

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Republican budget is not an investment in Arizona’s success

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Caucus leadership released the following statements on the Republican budget passed out of the Senate today.

Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar (District 19):
"Today Senate Republicans passed a partisan budget that fails to make critical investments in education, families and our economic future. These are investments that must be made and that can be made to move Arizona forward," said Sen. Tovar.

"Arizonans can no longer and should no longer settle for struggling schools that rank at the bottom nationally in funding and performance, or for a CPS that is in absolute turmoil and places our most vulnerable children at risk. We need a different path that leaves ideology behind and puts hard-working Arizonans first."

Senate Democratic Assistant Leader Lynne Pancrazi (District 4):
"There is no more important investment we can make for the future success of our state than education, but the partisan budget passed today does not adequately make that investment," said Sen. Pancrazi.

“We must ensure we can fully implement our new educational standards so that our children meet the challenges of the future and our teachers are prepared to help them succeed. And we must invest in higher education, including our innovative research universities that help bring top-flight industries to Arizona and make our state competitive in the global economy.”

Senate Democratic Whip Steve Gallardo (District 29):
"We knew from the first day of session that CPS was in trouble and the root causes of that department's exploding caseload needed to be addressed. The budget passed by Senate Republicans today does not accomplish that," said Sen. Gallardo.

"It falls short on adding needed caseworkers, on adoption services and on support services that help prevent abuse and neglect in the first place. And it is totally missing in action when it comes to daycare subsidies that allow parents to work and keep kids safe and healthy with their families. We can and must do more."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

SB 1062 conflates discrimination with religious freedom

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX The Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statements on today’s passage of SB 1062 by the Senate:
“SB 1062 permits discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation,” said Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar. “This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.”
“Legislation of this kind has been attempted this year in Kansas, South Dakota, Tennessee and Idaho. Each of those attempts failed after prominent members of the business community spoke against the measures. While our state continues to recover from the public relations nightmare of SB 1070, the Republican supporters of this bill are willing to elicit the inevitable backlash and boycotts that will result from its passage.
“Arizona does not need this bill, Arizonans do not want this bill and there is no place for this bill in our modern society. We have come too far to turn back the clock with such a disgraceful assault on members of our community based on their sexual orientation.”
# # #

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Legislature approves emergency funding for child safety caseworkers

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate and House Democratic leaders released the following statements on the Legislature’s passage of supplemental appropriations to fund additional child safety positions:

Senate Democratic Leader Anna Tovar:
Sen. Tovar

“Funding these additional caseworkers is a crucial step in the effort to reform our troubled CPS system, but it is only a step. We still have much work to repair the systemic failures that allowed thousands of vulnerable children to fall through the cracks,” said Sen. Tovar.

“We must also focus on preventative services that help keep children safe and healthy in their homes. Waiting to respond until a crisis occurs, whether for a family or for a state agency, is too late. The best way to protect Arizona’s children is to keep them from harm’s way in the first place.”

House Democratic Leader Chad Campbell:
“Providing funding for additional Child Protective Services caseworkers was the right thing to do today but it cannot be the only thing we do. This agency needs reforms that

Rep. Campbell
ensure accountability and that provide caseworkers with the resources they need to do their jobs effectively. We can’t keep propping up CPS with one emergency funding bill after another,” said Rep. Campbell.

“Instead, we should take a realistic look at what resources the agency needs to keep Arizona kids safe. Additionally, we must begin funding preventative and support services, including child care subsidies for working families. If we do not provide adequate money for these services, we will continue to see increases in cases of abuse and neglect. Without funding for these vital services, any efforts to reform CPS will fall flat. We have an opportunity to make lasting changes that will benefit our most vulnerable children. Let’s do it right this time.”

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Senate Republicans’ misguided priorities

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX The Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statements on the fact that Senate Republicans chose to use their first week in session to weaken gun laws, expand a controversial private school funding program and legalize discrimination of people for their gender, religion or sexual preference.
  • SB1063: Facilitates the carrying of firearms in public establishments and at public events.
  • SB1064: Weakens public safety by changing the definition of a firearm under state law. Allows felons access to dangerous weapons and exempts guns that can be fired after “mechanical repair” from state laws that apply to other guns.
  • SB1048: Expands the corporate School Tuition Organization tax credit to allow owners of S corporations to donate to STOs through their companies and receive the tax benefit on their individual income taxes. Strong neighborhood public schools are essential to healthy vibrant communities and to statewide economic competitiveness.  Allowing a state tax credit for STO contributions, which diverts tax dollars to pay for scholarships to attend private religious schools, undermines the state’s ability to support strong neighborhood schools.
  • SB1062: Expands the definition of “exercise of religion” to include not just individuals, but any legal entity such as businesses, associations, foundations, etc. and allows them to discriminate against anyone because of their gender, religion or sexual preference.
Senate Democratic Whip Steve Gallardo, LD29:
Sen. Gallardo

"There are a lot of critical issues on which the people of Arizona need their elected leaders to focus: a dysfunctional Child Protective Services; an economy just getting back on its feet; our kids' underfunded schools; and our crumbling roads to name a few," said Sen. Gallardo.

"Given their important and sometimes life-threatening nature, voters should expect the first bills of the session to address our most pressing problems. But today’s misguided bills do not reflect the priorities of Arizonans."

Senator Katie Hobbs, LD24:

Sen. Hobbs

"Supporters claim this bill will protect a person, business or other group because of their views on marriage. The truth is this bill removes protections for same sex couples and legalizes discrimination against them under the fallacy of religious freedom," said Sen. Hobbs.

"Allowing discrimination against loving, committed couples certainly doesn’t follow the religious ideals with which I was raised."