Archives for July 2017

Love and Dignity Trump Lies and Hate

By Faith Verdad

This week, as most Americans paused to celebrate our nation’s independence, and to come together with family and loved ones, twice failed Congressional Candidate and current AZ GOP Secretary Gabby Saucedo Mercer had other plans.

Under the influence of rage and possibly something stronger, Mercer typed out an “open letter” to Executive Director Matt Kenney, which could charitably be described as a work of fiction (although that would be an insult to fiction writers).

Fittingly, the letter appeared in Frosty Taylor’s fake news “briefs” on July 6.

While Kenney would have been justified in responding to the lies contained in Mercer’s letter, he demonstrated restraint, kindness, and Christian love.

In his response, Kenney spoke of his own journey to the Republican Party, a love of country and service forged on the battlefields in the War on Terror. “ I saw things that I can only pray that Gabby never has to witness. And experienced loss that I pray she never has to feel.” He wrote of the sacrifice that he witnessed, and his dedication to serving the country that his soldiers fought and even died for. And how true to his word, he has spent his post-military career in service to veterans and to our party.

Kenney goes on to describe his personal journey to salvation. “I spend every day attempting to live my life in a way that is pleasing to my God, and my savior, Jesus Christ. Because of this, I will not respond, point by point, to the vitriol and lies contained in Gabby’s letter. Jesus teaches us to turn the other cheek. I strive to live by His example.”

Finally, Kenney does the remarkable – he actually offers a prayer for a woman who has slandered and lied about him publicly. “I will pray that you find peace from the anger, rage that seems to fuel your hate-filled missives. I will continue to pray for your health and safety on the road, and that the Lord wrap you in his loving arms and deliver you from the demons that you are undoubtedly fighting.”

Indeed, Kenney has done what many of us wish we could do. When faced with unrelenting hate and despicable lies, he responded not with anger, but with love. And in doing so, took a big step to unify the party that Mercer has been vainly attempting to destroy.

Arizona Teachers Should Pay Off Debt BEFORE Retirement

A recent article in the Arizona Republic written by Alexa Chryssovergis caught my eye given that I now work in the world of public education.

Teachers across Arizona work multiple jobs to make ends meet,” gave several anecdotes of teachers who were struggling to survive just on their compensation. The article continued on the theme that Arizona public school teachers are among the lowest paid in the country. The data absolutely supports that.

One recurrent theme was that many teachers have student loans that they are struggling to pay off as part of their monthly budget.

Although the author provided no data as to the average student loan burden, stories I’ve heard (including during legislative testimony) reveal that teachers are carrying this form of debt that poses serious challenges to making ends meet.

However, what the article did not mention is that every public school teacher is forced to “contribute” 11.48% of their gross earnings into the Arizona State Retirement System. The contribution is mandatory but the rate is adjustable.

The bottom line is that teachers are paying student loan companies AND the State of Arizona retirement system before they even pay themselves.

In the wisdom of financial experts like Dave Ramsey, debt should always be paid off BEFORE putting money into a retirement account. And most student loan is manageable and can be paid down in a reasonable amount of time.

What if public school teachers were allowed to suspend their mandatory contributions to the Arizona State Retirement System in order to redirect that income toward paying down their student loan debt? This would lighten their financial burden, get them in the financial black and put them in a position to start building wealth with “gazelle intensity.”

Next year when the Arizona Legislature convenes, I hope to see several lawmakers sponsor a bill that gives teachers and other participants the option to suspend their mandatory contributions into ASRS so they can reduce or eliminate their student loan debt.

We all know that Arizona public school teachers are under compensated. Forcing them to divide their take-home pay between Sallie Mae and ASRS puts teachers further into a difficult financial position that sucks the joy out of doing their job.

Let’s give teachers a break by holding off mandatory contributions to the state until they dig out of student loan debt.

Americans For Prosperity Releases 2017 Legislative Scorecard

Are your state legislators Champions of the Taxpayer… or Champions of BIG Government?
 
 
The Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity has released its 2017 Legislative Scorecard. Go to www.azscorecard.com to see the results!  
 
AFP-Arizona’s scorecard assigns weights to over 300 bills according to their projected dollar impact to Arizona taxpayers, consumers and producers, with $1 million equaling one point on the scorecard.
 
This year’s legislative session was very positive. Here are some highlights:
 
SB 1522:  Balanced and Responsible Budget — The FY 2017-18 budget protects families and businesses from tax increases by growing state government spending more slowly than the rate of growth of the Arizona economy. The final FY 2018 budget figure was $9.817 billion. Even with $25 million in supplemental increases to the FY 2017 budget, the total was $55 million under a population-plus-inflation increase over last year’s budget.
 
SB 1431:  School Choice Expansion — By expanding eligibility for Arizona’s system of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), this reform will help more Arizona schoolchildren obtain the educational resources they need to succeed. Please use THIS LINK to thank Governor Ducey and your legislators for supporting school choice!
 
SB 1437:  Right to Earn a Living — This reform allows would-be entrepreneurs and job-creators to challenge professional licensing regulations designed to stifle competition and do nothing to protect public health and safety.
 
SB 1152:  Stopping Hidden Tax Hikes — This reform protects families and businesses by requiring local governments to put sales tax increases on the ballot in November of even-numbered years, rather than hiding those measures in low-turnout elections.
 
As it has done in past years, AFP-Arizona also grades legislators and the governor on missed opportunities, important reform bills that are prevented from reaching floor votes in the House or Senate. 
 
Among this year’s missed opportunities was the Senate’s failure to bring the Truth in Spending budget transparency reform to a floor vote, and the House’s failure to bring the Education Spending Transparency Act to a floor vote.
 
The highest-scoring legislator on AFP-Arizona’s 2017 Scorecard was Rep. Travis Grantham of Gilbert, with 94 percent, which earned him the designation of “Hero of the Taxpayer.”  The lowest-scoring legislator on the 2017 Scorecard was Sen. Martin Quezada, with 17 percent, which earned him the designation of “Champion of Big Government.”
 
For Liberty & Prosperity, 
 
Tom
 
Tom Jenney
Senior Legislative Advisor
Americans for Prosperity-Arizona
 
PS: To view scorecards from previous years, click HERE.

An Open Letter to Matthew Kenney, Executive Director, AZGOP

An Open Letter

From: Gabby Saucedo Mercer, Secretary of AZGOP

TO:  Matthew Kenney, Executive Director of AZGOP:

I am disappointed to find that you seriously misquoted me when speaking at the Executive Committee meeting about our conversation, which was on Friday, June 9th, not the Tuesday before the meeting. You stated at the exec meeting that I never mentioned wanting the records. I remember quite well what I said to you, and you got it completely wrong. I told you how frustrated I am, not having access to the records all the secretaries before me have always had. I informed you that a few groups of State Committeemen have come to me to ask if they can count on me to send out a Call Letter to the body, if they bring one to me. They are actually concerned that I will be unable to do my job! That Friday, I told you how I answered that question, which was “Absolutely! That’s my job!” I then asked you this question, “But how can I do my job, when I don’t even have the lists of the State Committeemen and pcs mailing addresses and emails?”

All you would say was “You’d have to speak to the counsel about that.” Speak to the counsel!!? What has he got to do with my tasks, according to the bylaws? But your only answer was “Speak to the counsel.” I must ask you if that reply was meant as a message to me that the AZGOP has no intention of allowing me to mail out an official call to a special meeting. That would go totally against what the bylaws require! And it would go against my own professional standards as well!

My reply to you was that I would not speak to any attorney. There is no reason for me to do so, on this subject, because the bylaws are clear in describing my duties, when the state committeemen bring a Call Letter to me. It is my duty to mail it to the membership. I am now seriously concerned about what will happen if a Call letter really is brought to me. Does the chairman intend to interfere with me doing my job of mailing an official call letter? I would like an answer to this question: is the AZGOP leadership going to refuse to give me the mailing addresses and postage, so I can fulfill my duty to mail the Call Letter, if I am asked to mail one? According to the bylaws, If the state committeemen deliver a Call Letter to the secretary, that letter becomes the official business of the party. If the AZGOP refuses to mail that letter, I believe that will be an intentional breach of the bylaws!

Matthew, I must insist that you retract the misquoted statement you made at the Flagstaff executive meeting, regarding what I said to you on Friday June 9th.  I am personally tired of the way you and Lines and other establishment Republicans are calling for unity but keep attacking Republicans that dare to speak up or challenge the lack of transparency and the smoke and mirrors.  If you do not know what I am referring to, check The Sonoran Alliance. I am sick and tired of the cowards who write for such blog/publication using pseudo names. I can tell that those fake named writers have ties to the AZ GOP establishment because NOBODY knew about my meeting at AZ GOP on February 21st or what transpired at such meeting, so how did Sonoran Alliance know all the details they then wrote about it? Kory Longhofer asked me in front of three witnesses who came with me, to wait two days so he could talk to Lines and then be able to give me an answer regarding the handing over of the records to me. I guess that must have been just to delay it, because I have never heard back from Kory.

Another comment that you made to me in that same June 9th conversation is really bothering me. It was in answer to a comment of mine. It was right after I reminded you that Lines promised many conservatives that he would not hire you, but not long after, he turned around and did it, anyway! I wanted you to understand how much it concerned me that our chairman would say one thing and do another.

But, Matthew, you corrected me! You said that Lines had nothing to do with the decision to hire you as executive director. You said “It was not his decision. It was the donors” who insisted that Lines hire you. I have to tell you, Matthew, that I was amazed by that remark! I thought to myself, “Did I just get a glimpse of who really is running our AZGOP? Did Matthew just tell me that it’s the big-money donors who control what the AZGOP does, and who tell the chairman what to do?”

Then I wondered, “Who are these donors who have so much power over the AZGOP?” Whoever they are, and I would like to find out, I do not believe they are on the side of the Republican Party, or the Republican voters of Arizona! Another question needs asking, “Is it possible these donors have an agenda all their own that we know nothing about and are using our party to execute it?” I am seriously concerned. Is this part of the reason why the AZGOP will not give me the permanent records, and why they did the same to our treasurer, for so long? How many more questions does this ask and answer? A lot, I bet.

Respectfully,

Gabriela S. Mercer
Secretary, AZ GOP