Governor Jan Brewer has signed SB 1047 to expand Arizona’s Tuition Tax Credit program. This law creates a new tax credit specifically designed to help the thousands of Arizona students currently on waiting lists to attend the private school of their parents’ choice.
Under this new law, individuals can receive an additional $500 dollar-for-dollar tax credit, and married couples $1,000 – that doubles the amount you can already receive in tax credits to help children attend the school of their family’s choice!
What’s more – the scholarship tax credit program actually saves the state money! The average cost to taxpayers per student in a public school is over $8,500 while the average tax credit scholarship is around $2,000, providing much-needed cost savings to the state.
Despite the efforts of some in the Legislature to derail the bill, SB 1047 got overwhelming support in both the state House and Senate, thanks in part to the efforts of the bill’s sponsor, Senator Rick Murphy.
Please take time today to send Governor Brewer a note on her website, thanking her for signing this bill, and for her ongoing commitment to improving education in Arizona by expanding school choice.
We have been working with Republican legislators to refine the bill weights. They have had private access to our proposed weights prior to our publication of them. Of course, there is nothing to encourage feedback like actually publishing the ratings! We have gotten significant feedback on bills to add to our evaluation and weight change suggestions. There are several that have been included in this update and there are still a several more to be reviewed for next week’s update. After next week, most of the changes should be due to bills being amended.
The number of bills being tracked now is 187(an increase of 14) plus 37 bills that have strike all amendments.
There are a lot of legislators with high scores including many representatives who have +100% ratings!
Although we are well into the session, there are still many floor votes as well as committee votes to come. The scores currently are still heavily influenced by bill sponsorships compared to floor and committee votes, but, as more votes are taken, they will have an increasing impact on the scores as the session continues. Also, any action rated negatively, such as missing a vote or voting the opposite of our recommendation, has a disproportionately large impact earlier in the session before they are balanced out by third and final reads that are weighted more heavily and come closer to the end of the session.
We have tightened up the categorization we apply to the scores. Reagan Republican has stayed the same, the RINO score range has expanded, and the other categories have higher score values with narrower ranges.
Check the ratings here.
By Jonathan Butcher
In 1935, Australia had a problem with beetles. The bugs were destroying the nation’s sugar cane crop, so, to combat the pests, lawmakers introduced over 100 Cane Toads to the continent.
While the toads took care of the beetles, Australia now has 200 million Cane Toads and an ongoing problem controlling these amphibians. Cane Toads are poisonous and threaten many native species, including snakes and freshwater crocodiles.
“You cannot always predict the results of purposeful action,” writes Steven M. Gillon in That’s Not What We Meant to Do, a book describing the unintended consequences from many 20th century policies (he cites Australia’s toad problem as an illustration of how we need to be saved from our own solutions sometimes).
In Arizona, SB 1259 attempts to remedy a problem with the state’s virtual school funding system. Currently, virtual schools receive funding for each student that enrolls, even if the student does not master the material at the end of the course. SB 1259 creates a system similar to Florida’s Virtual School, wherein the school receives a sizable percentage of its funding only after a student completes a course and can demonstrate what they have learned.
However, SB 1259 creates an incentive for virtual schools to give all students at least a C-, the mark at which a student has to score in order for the school to receive 85 percent of student funding. Grade inflation could become an unintended consequence of the measure.
SB 1259 addresses important parts of the virtual school law and shows the state’s policies are maturing. But lawmakers will have to watch for unintended consequences and be prepared to revise the measure so that it appropriately fits the world of online education.
Jonathan Butcher is the Education Director for the Goldwater Institute.
Education Next: Florida’s Online Option
Arizona State Legislature: SB 1259
Australian Government: Policy on Cane Toads (PDF)
State Senator Lori Klein presented Senate Bills 1202 (prohibiting partisan instruction in schools), 1203 (accountability and transparency in curriculum and materials) and 1205 (teaching language compliance with FCC standards). Seven Republican state senators have rejected the bills, but there is still hope: YOU!
By contacting the State Senators listed below and respectfully asking them to change their vote by 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 29, there is still a chance to save these bills! When calling, also ask that members reconsider all three bills. It is important to do so!
Sen. Linda Gray - Phone Number: (602) 926-3376; Fax Number: (602) 417-3253; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Adam Driggs - Phone Number: (602) 926-3016; Fax Number: (602) 417-3007; Email: email@example.com
Sen. John McComish - Phone Number: (602) 926-5898; Fax Number: (602) 417-3020; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Paula Aboud - Phone Number: (602) 926-5262; Fax Number: (602) 926-3429; Email: email@example.com
Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford - Phone Number: (602) 926-5835; Fax Number: (602) 417-3027; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is info on the bills:
By Nick Dranias
Somebody hit the panic button too quickly at the Arizona Republic. A couple of weeks ago, its editorial board declared plans for a Regulatory Tax Credit would result in “regulatory Armageddon.”
No doubt the tax credit has the potential to encourage serious regulatory reform. It would allow victims of excessive regulation to bill the government for its regulatory overreach. But, far from Armageddon, the initial impact of the pilot program proposed by the Arizona House Leadership is downright tiny.
Beginning in 2015, the reform would give taxpayers only a modest tax credit — $1,000 per tax year for individuals and $3,000 per tax year for corporations. The total for all credits would be capped at $800,000 per year—an infinitesimal 0.02% of the $3.4 billion in annual state income tax revenues.
Given the tax credit’s tiny fiscal footprint, the real question is: Why would anyone be against it?
It can’t be the cost of administration. Estimated administrative costs would be roughly $350,000 per year. That’s $50,000 less than what Phoenix recently paid for a single study of excessive government employee compensation.
It can’t be tax evasion. The handful of taxpayers who would claim a regulatory tax credit would paint a target on their backs, risking tax audits if they make frivolous claims.
And it can’t be the definition of “excessive regulation.” To trigger a tax credit, the taxpayer must show that a regulation does not verifiably protect public health and safety or guard against fraud, dangerous occupations or harmful property uses and conditions. This is the very definition of a needless regulation.
Yes, the Regulatory Tax Credit would modestly require the government to foot the bill of excessive regulations for affected taxpayers. Hopefully someday the program will expand. But this would only motivate governments to consider more seriously how and whether to regulate people and businesses. It would not repeal a single regulation government was willing to pay for.
That’s good government – not “regulatory Armageddon.”
Nick Dranias holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute.
Goldwater Institute: The Missing Reform: Regulatory Tax Credits
Arizona Legislature: Nick Dranias Testimony in support of HB2815 (at 3:52)
Arizona Republic: Measure Itself Is Excessive
Arizona Republic: Tax credit could guard against regulatory abuse
Now and then, a short interview exposes, as few other devices can, Right versus Left, Strength versus Weakness, and Truth versus Willful Self-Deception. We get all three and more in this Feb 24 CNN interview of Newt Gingrich on the murder of two American military personnel and wounding of four others by an Afghan soldier.
Is it any wonder that so many Americans crave this kind of upright, plainly-spoken truth in our next President, no matter who it may be?
Is it any wonder that Conservatives exult when they hear unequivocal condemnation of the Left’s “one-sided traffic in outrage” as well as its politically correct tolerance of intolerance?
Is it any wonder that so many Americans are disgusted by the the stomach-turning, skin-crawling, hand-wringing serial apologies of the current administration?
Evidently, President Obama still believes in cultivating a perception of American deference, weakness, and timidity around the world. We continue to reap what he has sown, and there is surely more to come, unless and until he is replaced.
A prior Sonoran Alliance post covered Associate Justice Gingsberg’s appalling remarks about the US Constitution and her praise for the South African Constitution with its guarantees of food, water, shelter, healthcare, and social security listed as basic “human rights”.
What are the consequences of actually trying to make good on guarantees like that? One need look no further than Europe. Riots over entitlement cutbacks are now a common occurrence, and they are only the beginning.
How did Europe get itself into this mess?
If you’re an American older than 30, you may remember:
- the hoopla over the formation of the European Union (EU), with some gleefully calling it “The United States of Europe“,
- the predictions that America would soon have to “move over” as the EU became the dominant economic power in the world, and
- the herd of financial advisers recommending that American investors purchase EU stocks and funds or get left behind.
So where does the vaunted EU stand today?
The EU is tottering on the brink of financial collapse. It has fallen victim to (1) the statist / collectivist / socialist infection that has sickened Europe for well over 100 years, and (2) the rampant entitlement mentality that European politicians have cultivated for over 60 years as they sought votes and power.
Regarding that entitlement mentality, you may have heard of:
- French pride in their government-enforced 35-hour-maximum work week,
- Italian politicians’ perks and privileges,
- Spanish civil service salaries rising much faster than inflation,
- Greek public sector workers getting two months extra pay for no extra work, and
- English benificence to its own public sector.
In fact, entitlements have become so thoroughly embedded in EU cultures that they are now enshrined in the EU Constitution as human rights (something the Great American Left is working to emulate in our own country).
Predictably, over-taxed and over-regulated, the EU economies could not long generate the surplus wealth needed to pay for all their promised amenities. With two full generations of citizens trained from birth to expect their state-granted “human rights”, it’s small wonder that any attempted cut-backs have been met with strikes, demonstrations, boycotts, and protests, including violent ones.
Now the jig is up. It’s time to face the music. Herman Van Rompuy himself, the President of the European Council, has put it crisply and clearly:
We cannot finance our social model.
Well, if it’s any comfort, Mr. Rompuy, we in America can’t finance ours either. Just our entitlement programs and debt service already consume all our tax revenue, and we’re desperately borrowing and printing over $4.7 billion per day to pay for the overrun as well as everything else. And this is no temporary bump in the road. With over 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day, the deterioration is accelerating, seemingly without limit.
Why do so few Americans understand the true depth of this predicament?
Is it because the President and his spokespeople deliberately obscure the problem in a fog of class-envy-based lies that they think will serve them well in the upcoming election? How many times have we heard that “if the wealthy would just pay their fair share”, we could get past our budget crisis? It’s a self-serving canard, but millions of Americans still walk around believing it and repeating it.
Even if we were to cancel the demonized Bush-Obama tax cuts for all Americans (not just the wealthy), we’d only pay for about 28 minutes‘ worth of our current level of borrowing per day. What do we do about the other 23 hours and 32 minutes? (For a fact-based presentation, see the Rep. David Schweikert video at this link, especially at time marker 07:36).
As Bill Whittle has shown, with his own unique sense of humor, even if we were to “eat the rich“, confiscating all their wealth, we could only cover our deficits for about one year. And then what?
A few brave souls in Congress have come to understand our economic crisis in real terms with real numbers. They’ve been trying to reach and teach the rest of Congress and all of America. We need to help them by repeating their message to our fellow Americans just as loudly and as often as we can.
But there’s more than that to do … much more.
It is the incumbent members of Congress who got our country into this mess. It happened on their watch when they were supposed to be looking out for us and our children. And the longer a Representative or Senator has been in office, the more culpable he (or she) is.
Whether Democrat or Republican, every incumbent should be held accountable and compelled by his constituents to answer these questions:
Where were you when these impossibly expensive programs were designed and approved?
Did you warn us? Did you tell us what the debt would be to our children and grandchildren?
Did you vote against the programs? Have you worked to expose them? What are you doing now to reform them?
If an incumbent cannot answer acceptably to his constituents, it is sufficient cause for him to announce he will not run again for office, go home at the end of his term, and not come back. His district or state can then deal with finding a replacement candidate who will take his responsibility to his constituents seriously. We especially need full replacement of the elitist lifetime legislative class representatives and senators who have betrayed us through negligence, lethargy, incompetence, or malfeasance. We do not work for them. They work for us. Our message to them should be simple: You’re fired!
What will happen if these politicians, especially Washington’s lifetime legislators, are not replaced?
Take a good long look at Europe today. As Member-of-European-Parliament Daniel Hannan has put it in his book The New Road to Serfdom: A Letter of Warning to America,
Europe is living in our future
We do not want to go there, and it’s up to us, We the People, to stop it from happening.
Call to Prayer
Marriage between a man and a woman is lifegiving, and a majority of Americans understand this.
Yet marriage is under constant assault. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled the California marriage amendment was unconstitutional. In Washington State, a bill was signed into law to completely redefine marriage. The New Jersey legislature passed legislation to do the same, but Governor Christie vetoed it. Maryland’s legislature recently passed similar legislation, and their governor has vowed to sign the bill.
The attacks are coming from all sides. In response, Alliance Defense Fund has called for a National Pray for Marriage Day this Sunday, February 26. This prayer guide offers suggestions to pray for a restoration of marriage in America. While there is much work to be done to protect marriage in America, we must always remember to go to the Lord first, because only He can bring us victory. Take time this Sunday to pray for marriage!
Legislative Victory! First CAP-supported Bill Heads to the Governor
SB 1047, which increases the amount individuals can receive in tax credits for donations to School Tuition Organizations to $500, and married couples to $1,000, is on Governor Brewer’s desk! These new scholarship dollars are solely designated for children on waiting lists who attend public schools and want to go to the private school of their parents’ choice.
Have you ever been to the State Capitol?
We’ve hosted a number of Inside Looks at the Capitol since session began to give CAP supporters a peek into our daily work and how it is making Arizona a better place for families. These one-hour tours are free and allow you to interact with me and some of the other members of the CAP team. I hope you can join us and bring a friend on March 6 or March 21. The tours run from noon-1:00 p.m. You must RSVP in advance by emailing email@example.com.
Here is the general information provided about the evaluation:
We have been working with Republican legislators to refine the bill weights. The have had private access to our proposed weights prior to our publication of them.
The number of bills being tracked is 173 plus 37 bills that have strike all amendments.
There are a lot of legislators with high scores including many representatives who have +100% ratings!
Although we are well into the session, there are still many floor votes as well as committee votes to come. The scores currently are still heavily influenced by bill sponsorships compared to floor and committee votes, but, as more votes are taken, they will have an increasing impact on the scores as the session continues.
We have tightened up the categorization we apply to the scores. Reagan Republican and RINO have stayed the same, the Bipartisan Republican score range has expanded, and the other categories have higher score values with narrower ranges.
Click here to see the complete evaluation.
By Byron Schlomach, Ph.D.
General Motors is moving 19,000 salaried workers off its pension plan to a 401(k) plan. The move will help reduce the risk GM’s pension poses to the company and investors, including the federal government – i.e., the American taxpayer. GM’s unfunded pension balance is currently $8.7 billion. GM’s profits in 2011 were $7.6 billion.
The new retirement plan makes sense for the company and for employees, who can now take an ownership stake in their retirement savings.
State governments would do well to consider taking similar steps. Arizona’s pension systems have a combined unfunded balance of $16 billion – an official total that is arguably low. State General Fund revenues stand at $8.4 billion, a position far more precarious than GM’s.
Moving state employees to 401(k)-style retirement plans not only makes fiscal sense, but would greatly reduce the risk to taxpayers, who, unlike investors in private companies, cannot simply opt-out of the risk by selling stock.
Dr. Byron Schlomach is Director of the Center for Economic Prosperity at the Goldwater Institute.
Joint Legislative Budget Committee: Historical General Fund Revenue Collections (PDF)
DailyFinance: General Motors Meets on Revenues, Misses on EPS
New York Times: G.M. Changes Pensions for Salaried Workers
Here’s your chance to vote for the winner of the Arizona Republican Presidential candidate debate and tell us why:
By Stephen Slivinski
It’s like a bad re-run. A few legislators are trying to revive Arizona’s film production tax credit (SB 1170) that lapsed in 2011.
According to the last annual report on the effectiveness of the credit, in 2009 four media companies completed production on credit-approved projects. After taking into consideration the small bit of sales tax revenue the film generated while in production, the state paid out a net of just over $2 million in tax credits. That’s an average of half a million dollars per project.
How many jobs did that create? About 41 jobs directly related to the project and another 20 that were presumably from the ripple effect on the local economy. An analysis by economists at the W.P. Carey School at Arizona State University shows that these jobs were temporary and, thus, the post-production employment impact of this tax credit was “minimal.”
States like Washington and Iowa terminated their film credit programs last year and others have suspended them until their effectiveness can be studied. The general consensus among analysts is that these credits cost more than they’re worth and their existence owes more to star-struck policymakers than it does to economic logic.
The legislature this year, just as they did last year, should avoid putting Arizona taxpayers back on the hook for film production. Arizona doesn’t need to buy another ticket to this overpriced flop.
Stephen Slivinski is a Senior Economist for the Goldwater Institute.
Arizona Department of Commerce: Motion Picture Production Tax Incentive Annual Report for 2009 (PDF)
Tax Foundation: Report on Film Tax Credit (2011)
By Jonathan Butcher
American Indian students are more likely to live in poverty and face unemployment later in life. These children carry the burdens of geographic isolation and multi-generational poverty that are heavy to lift.
In my conversations with state leaders on ways to help students in chronically failing schools—ideas such as expanding eligibility for education savings accounts and allowing parents to petition to convert a failing school to a charter school—policymakers regularly cite the unique challenges presented by American Indian students.
Digital and online learning opportunities offer hope. As Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow Dan Lips explains in his new Policy Brief, Digital Learning: Improve Educational Opportunities for American Indian Students, online programs can be made available to any student and would increase educational opportunities in rural areas and on reservations.
Over 300,000 American Indians from 21 tribes call Arizona home, and American Indian students comprise 5 percent of the state’s K-12 population. These students score well below their white peers on the nation’s report card, often lagging behind other minority groups such as African American and Hispanic students. Among 4th graders, 70 percent of American Indian students score below the basic level. Only 8 percent can read at grade level.
Lips’ Policy Brief explains how policymakers can incorporate blended-learning programs into the classroom; provide a specific option for children attending Bureau of Indian Education schools to allow them to enroll in Arizona Online Instruction classes; expand private school choice programs to offer full or partial scholarships to American Indian students to enroll in virtual school courses; and create a Federal Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) Virtual School.
Reasonable people can disagree about what’s best for American Indians in the 21st century. But everyone agrees that more quality educational choices for children of any heritage are worth pursuing.
Jonathan Butcher is the Education Director for the Goldwater Institute.
Goldwater Institute: Digital Learning: Improved Educational Opportunities for American Indian Students
Arizona Department of Education: 2007 Indian Education Annual Report
Arizona Republic: Arizona’s American Indians
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 21, 2012
CONTACT: Michelle Clements
Arizona Right to Life Endorses Rick Santorum for President
We Pick Rick
Phoenix, AZ – Arizona Right to Life Political Action Committee (AZRTL PAC) today announced its endorsement of Rick Santorum in the Republican presidential primary. AZRTL PAC endorsed Rick Santorum based on his strong pro-life record and his leadership over the years.
Santorum authored the law banning partial-birth abortions, as well as the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, providing appropriate care for infants who survive an abortion. He was a member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, and also sponsored legislation related to end of life issues. He continues to be an outspoken opponent of federal funding of abortion. The AZRTL PAC considered Santorum’s support of these priority issues in deciding to endorse him.
“There are few who are as articulate and passionate on life issues as Senator Santorum,” said Michelle Clements, President of Arizona Right to Life. “He not only voted the right way, he talks about the dignity and value of every human life whenever he has the opportunity, and he lives out those values in his own personal life. We are grateful for his leadership and proud to endorse him.”
AZRTL PAC acknowledges that all the Republican presidential candidates have declared they are pro-life, and that other candidates have strong pro-life voting records. Arizona Right to Life commends them for their support and defense of life.
“The one person we know is unapologetically pro-choice, even supporting partial-birth abortion and federal funding of abortion, is President Barack Obama,” said Clements. “This is a critically important election, and we take comfort in knowing that the Republican nominee will take a strong position in contrast to President Obama who is the only pro-choice candidate.”
“We encourage Arizonans to support Rick Santorum in the Republican presidential primary election Tuesday, February 28.”
For nearly 40 years Arizona Right to Life has been committed to articulating and protecting the right to life of all human beings, born and unborn. Our passion is reaching the next generation for LIFE. For more information visit www.azrtl.org.Find us on Facebook.com/AZRTL or follow us at Twitter.com/AZRTL.
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The Mother’s Health and Safety Act, HB 2838, was heard in the House Health and Human Services Committee last week.
One of the most powerful moments came when Representative Justin Pierce shared the story of his brother’s family, and how despite pressure from doctors, they chose life and now have a beautiful 3 year old son.
This is a must-see video for anyone in the life debate…