Archives for February 2018

Justin Olson, Looking Ahead for Ratepayers

Justin Olson

Justin Olson

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson believes Arizona ratepayers should benefit from federal tax reform. For Olson, that means Arizona utility companies should pass their tax savings on to Arizona ratepayers.

Recent federal tax reform has resulted in big savings to corporations here in Arizona. In fact, that reform lowered the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent leading to significantly lower expenses to utility companies. Olson, who serves on the Arizona Corporation Commission and oversees utility rates, wants to make sure those savings get passed on to you.

APS, Arizona’s largest utility provider, is already moving to lower customer bills by $119 million a year. Overall, that means an average saving to ratepayers of $4.68 per month. That’s a good start but it also means Arizona’s other utility companies must do the same. To make that happen, Commissioner Olson has asked that the full commission review and adjust rates downward for Arizona ratepayers.

Other commissioners are in agreement with Olson and taken steps to have other utility companies pass their tax savings on to you.

On Wednesday, January 31st, Commissioner Olson conducted a workshop to discuss the impact of federal tax reform on Arizona utility rates. A link to that workshop video and agenda can be found here. The video of the workshop is below.

Olson who has been an advocate for taxpayers for many years is leading by example. Arizona was the first to call for utility rate reductions and now other state commissions are following. It’s refreshing to watch conservative leadership remember who ultimately foots the bill and deserves to reap the benefits of tax reductions.

Thank you, Justin Olson, for your leadership and looking ahead for ratepayers.

 

Paul Boyer: Tax reform will help Ariz. small businesses, add jobs

Paul BoyerBy Paul Boyer

2018 is an exciting year for Arizona small businesses, which will be able to take advantage of a new 20 percent tax deduction associated with the recently passed federal tax legislation. These savings will not only benefit state small businesses, but employees, job seekers, and communities as well.

Arizona runs on small business. Our state is home to over 500,000 small businesses (defined by the Small Business Administration as employing 500 or fewer), helping employ nearly one million people. And these numbers are not unique to Arizona. Across the country, small businesses account for over 99 percent of all businesses and a net two-thirds of all new private sector jobs.

But despite the invaluable contribution small businesses had on the economy, for far too long, the structure of the old tax system actively worked against growth, with marginal federal rates reaching 40 percent. This over-taxation put small businesses at an inherent disadvantage.

Under the new tax law, a 20 percent deduction is established for all small business income less than $315,000, and non-professional service business income above that threshold. Roughly 95 percent of small businesses earn less than $315,000, meaning the overwhelming majority will benefit from the full 20 percent deduction.

Consider, for example, how this deduction would help an average Arizona small business earning $200,000 a year. This 20 percent deduction would protect $40,000 from federal taxation, freeing up much-needed resources to create jobs and raise wages. I am already hearing from dozens of businesses around the state about their plans to raise wages, hire employees, and expand with their tax savings.

This excess capital in the private economy will fuel economic growth. Contrary to popular belief, business owners will not simply pocket their tax savings. “They will follow the lead of their big business counterparts, hundreds of which, including AT&T, Comcast, and PNC Bank have used their tax savings to give workers bonuses or raise their wages, creating wealthier and more vibrant communities that touch nearly everyone.

We are even seeing specific examples of these savings here in our home state. Arizona’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service Co, announced its intention to reduce consumer bills, citing the lower corporate tax rate as the driving force behind the decision. These collective cuts could reach nearly $120 million, impacting over 25 million customers.

Arizona Public Service is giving the entirety of their tax cut back to customers. For families on a fixed income, these savings are crucial. They are able to live with a stronger sense of financial security thanks to the recent tax bill.

During my time in the Arizona State Legislature, I’ve encountered businesses longing to share their passions with the world. I witnessed humble business ventures transform into leaders of the Arizona business community. From my experience, a tax cut, like the one recently signed into law, would have done wonders in helping get these businesses off the ground. Now new businesses will finally get the relief they’ve needed for so long.

Tax cuts will give small businesses a lot to look forward to this year, meanwhile all Arizonans will reap the benefits.

Republican Paul Boyer, a high-school literature teacher, is chairman of the Arizona House Education Committee and represents Legislative District 20, based in Phoenix and Glendale. Email him at pboyer@azleg.gov

Michael Lafferty Political Contributions Question Candidacy

 

Michael Lafferty

Michael Lafferty

Friday, a new candidate announced his entry into the Phoenix mayoral race drawing questions about his political motivations among the politically astute.

Michael Lafferty, a Phoenix businessman and developer, entered the race asserting his affiliation as an independent candidate although he is currently registered as a Republican according to Maricopa County voter records.

The Arizona Republic noted that Lafferty’s company owns a 1,500 unit apartment complex near 12th Street and the light rail station. The Republic also stated that Lafferty has been involved in Phoenix business for 34 years.

In his statement, Lafferty said, “I don’t believe that the mayor’s office is a Democratic or Republican office.”

Sonoran Alliance researched his political contributions specifically related to Phoenix candidates and what we found draws into question his motive for seeking the top seat at the City of Phoenix.

As a Republican, Lafferty gave to Democrat candidates and to 2015’s Proposition 104 – a massive tax hike of $31.5 Billion on Phoenix voters over the next 27 years. According to the City of Phoenix Clerk’s office Lafferty gave the following donations:

  • $1,000 on June 30, 2017 to Kate Gallego in her city council race
  • $2,000 on June 23, 2015 to MovePHX in Support of Prop 104
  • $700 on May 8, 2014 to Greg Stanton in his mayoral race
  • $250 on March 9, 2014 to kate Gallego in her city council race
  • $500 on November 12, 2013 to Greg Stanton in his mayoral race
  • $225 on September 3, 2013 to Kate Gallego in her city council race
  • $450 on August 7, 2013 to Warren Stewart in his city council race

Michael Lafferty Phoenix Donations

At no time over the last few years has Lafferty contributed to the campaigns of Republicans Sal DiCiccio, Jim Waring, Bill Gates (when he was on council) or Thelda Williams.

This blog has to ask the question why would a candidate who acknowledges his political registration as Republican and transitioning to Independent, jump into the mayoral race when he has a history of supporting Phoenix Democrats? Why not run as a Democrat? And, as a Republican, why didn’t Lafferty support any of the Republican candidates running for city council?

Political speculators are already arguing that Lafferty is strategically running to eliminate the only Republican, Moses Sanchez, from winning the seat or a slot in a primary runoff contest. In our opinion, Michael Lafferty should re-register as a Democrat.

We’d like to hear your take on this important race for Phoenix Mayor.

U.S. Rep. McSally Supports Landmark Increase in Defense Spending

Martha McSallyWASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Martha McSally today released the following statement after voting in support of the Bipartisan Budget Act:

“Today I voted with President Trump and Secretary Mattis to halt sequestration and increase defense spending. My vote is for our men and women in uniform who are relying on this boost in defense resources to carry out their mission and to keep us safe. Eight years’ worth of anemic defense budgets and neglect under President Obama’s defense sequester have thrown our military into a full-blown readiness crisis—and Secretary Mattis has made it very clear that, unless we pass a budget and fund the troops they will not have the resources to maintain their operations and deter war. That’s why, from the outset, I demanded that this bill include $700 billion this year and $716 billion next year for our troops to fulfill our military’s request—and it does.

This bill also dismantles another pillar of Obamacare: The ‘Independent Payment Advisory Board’—also known as the Death Panels and tasked with rationing Medicare.

We cannot hold our military hostage while we tackle other long-term spending and move towards fiscal responsibility. This landmark increase in defense spending will finally start to give our troops what they need to keep us safe.”

Rep. Andy Biggs: When will we act like the Republicans our constituents expect us to be?

Andy BiggsThe budget caps deal produced by Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer is a fiscal disaster parading as a military support bill. They argue that we need to fully fund the military. I agree. That’s why we sent a bill to the Senate earlier this week that fully funded the military – without adding more than $500 billion to our deficit over the next 18 months, as their plan does.

Further, the House fully funded the military in the budget bills sent to the Senate almost six months ago. The Senate has taken no action on those bills, but keeps forcing short-term spending bills, which even Senator Lindsey Graham agrees, is extremely harmful to our military.

This bad deal is an unconditional surrender on Republican principles and our platform.

If Congress approves the spending package, federal spending will grow by more than 10 percent. As a part of the deal, our nation’s debt limit will be suspended. This means that Congress will spend as much as it can borrow – without limits. Plan on even more national debt ahead.

If we are going to spend more than the credit limits, not to mention more than we bring in on the revenue side each month, we should be enacting serious spending cuts. Spending reductions should not be treated as an afterthought on a massive spending package.

After caving in on spending, the bill actually funds our troops for only another six weeks, until we are forced to consider our sixth spending bill of the fiscal year just a few weeks from now. This is absurd – and irresponsible.

Congress’s pattern of relying on short-term spending bills – on average, more than five times a year for the last 20 years – has brought on a plethora of problems. Our military is subjected to uncertainty in planning and execution of its missions. Our agencies incur the waste of preparing for government shutdowns multiple times each year. The dissipation incurred by failure of the Senate to pass the appropriations bills has also heaped an enormous national debt on this and future generations.

This is nothing short of self-immolation through legislative malfeasance. We are putting our grandchildren in an awful bind. If we cannot pass a budget and reduce the size of government now, we must wonder what kind of America they will see when they grow up. Will it be a thriving, free nation where they can fulfill their greatest aspirations, or will it be a broken and bankrupt country?

Almost six months ago, the House passed twelve appropriations bills and sent them over to the Senate. The Senate has had an opportunity for months to consider these bills and give them an up-or-down vote through regular order. This could have solved our problems. Yet, the other chamber has refused to perform its constitutional responsibility, threatening the financial stability of our military personnel.

Our troops are suffering now due to our lack of courage to pass a financially responsible, long-term budget, and our grandchildren will suffer later due to our propensity to kick the can down the road.

When will we act like the Republicans our constituents expect us to be? When will we cut spending, balance the budget, and eliminate our national debt? The time should be now, but sadly, we are too set in our free-spending, big government ways to change.

I strongly oppose this deal. We must drain the swamp and decrease the size of government. I implore my colleagues to vote against this legislation.

Representative Jill Norgaard Introduces Legislation to Expand Instruction Options for English Language Learners

Jill NorgaardSTATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Representative Jill Norgaard (R-18) has introduced HB 2281, legislation that will remove the requirement of a four-hour block of daily structured English emersion for English Language Learners if they are enrolled in a dual language program.

HB 2281 passed the House Education Committee with unanimous support, of 9-0.

English Language Learners are K-12 students who are not proficient in the English language, as scored by the Arizona English Language Learner Assessment.

“Studies have shown that dual language programs can be a more effective way to educate English language learners without having to pull students from their core classes for a required four-hour block of daily emersion,” said Representative Norgaard. “Affording schools the flexibility to determine how to best educate their English Language Learners will help prevent students from falling behind and will put the power back in the hands of the teachers and families.”

Political Ad: Moses Sanchez for Phoenix Mayor Changing The Status Quo

Moses Sanchez

If you haven’t been paying attention to Phoenix politics, you should know there’s a conservative Republican running for the office of Mayor of the 5th largest US city.

Moses Sanchez launched his campaign for Mayor of Phoenix on January 16th with the theme of changing the status quo by challenging the two incumbent Democrats seeking the seat when Greg Stanton resigns to run for Congress.

An Ahwatukee resident, Sanchez migrated to the US with his family from the Republic of Panama when he was a child. He is an active reservist with the United States Navy having served for 21 years including a tour of Afghanistan.

Sanchez possesses both a B.S. in Business Management and an MBA. He is Director of Operations for Nonnah’s Marketing an Arizona-based digital marketing company that assists local businesses in their growth strategy through targeted digital media campaigns.

Previously, he was elected and served on the Tempe Union High School Governing Board. Over the last ten years, he has also taught economics in the Maricopa County Community College District at South Mountain Community College.

Moses and his wife, Maria Manriquez M.D., have three adult children and three grandchildren. All three children graduated from Desert Vista High School and continued their education at Arizona State University.

On January 29th, the Sanchez campaign released its first political ad entitled, “Changing The Status Quo.” The ad is available here.

Follow Moses Sanchez on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for campaign news and events.

 

POLL: AZ-08 GOP Special Election Now a Two-Person Race as Early Voting Begins

 

OH Predictive

Lesko and Montenegro tied, Stump falls to 4th

PHOENIX (February 1, 2018) – A new poll of the heavily GOP Congressional District 8 shows it is a two-candidate race between Debbie Lesko and Steve Montenegro.

The two leaders are tied with 21 percent apiece in the latest OH Predictive Insights poll conducted via IVR survey of 400 likely 2018 GOP Special Election voters comprised of Republicans, Independents and Party Non-Declared in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District. Sample is based on voter history and qualified as a likely voter for the GOP Special Election in this survey with a +/-4.89% MOE.

Phil Lovas is now in third place with 12 percent. And Bob Stump, the former front runner, has dropped to fourth as he has taken hits from his opponents and the media about whether he is taking advantage of his name change to that of a former congressman in the West Valley.

“Former state senators Debbie Lesko and Steve Montenegro are the clear front runners in the GOP primary,” said Mike Noble, managing partner and chief pollster at OH Predictive Insights, a Phoenix-based leading behavioral research polling company. “Lesko has the highest favorables at 54 percent amidst her campaign’s decision to begin TV ads on Fox News. Montenegro has gained 20 points from early December after garnering endorsements from Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Senator Ted Cruz.”

Here is how everyone stacks up in the horse race question if the election were held today.

“There is a large field of candidates however it is now a two-person race between Lesko and Montenegro – may the best man or woman win,” said Noble.

Here is how the top candidates stack up and the changes since our last poll conducted on December 11th, 2017.

A key indicator of a winning a campaign is not just being known, but being known AND liked so OHPI ranked the list by the people with the highest net favorable name identification to lowest positive name ID.

Bob Stump’s unfavorable numbers jumped 17 points since the last poll conducted on December 11th, 2017 due to the recent controversy over his name.
Here is the State of the Race in AZ-08 summarized in 40 Seconds

Methodology: This automated survey was completed by OH Predictive Insights on February 1st, 2018, from a likely 2018 GOP Special Election voter sample. The sample demographics accurately reflected party affiliation and gender however age leaned heavily towards 55+ respondent’s due to it being automated. The sample size was 400 completed surveys, with a MoE of ± 4.89%.

The previous poll was an automated survey which was completed by OH Predictive Insights on December 11th, 2017, from a likely 2018 GOP Special Election voter sample. The sample demographics accurately reflected party affiliation and gender however age leaned heavily towards 55+ respondent’s due to it being automated. The sample size was 400 completed surveys, with a MoE of ± 4.89%.

Ugenti-Rita: Arizona Small Businesses Will Benefit from Tax Bill

Michelle Ugenti-RitaA little over a month ago, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law, and Americans are already feeling better than ever about the state of our economy. In a recent poll from Quinnipiac University, 66 percent of Americans rated the nation’s economy as either “excellent” or “good”—a three percentage point jump since last month.

It’s difficult to not be excited about the impact the tax bill is having on Arizona and its small businesses. The relief could not have come sooner.

Arizona is home to nearly 500,000 small businesses that employ approximately one million people. For too long these entities have struggled under a burdensome tax code that has prevented growth. With the previous federal tax rate approaching 40 percent, small businesses saw much of their hard-earned revenue disappear into the pockets of Uncle Sam.

Fortunately, measures included in the new tax relief package will reduce this burden. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created a 20 percent standard deduction that applies to roughly 95 percent of small businesses and eliminates high tax brackets in favor of new, lower ones.

To put the standard deduction in layman’s terms, with the help of the new tax legislation, small businesses earning $200,000 a year are able to shield their first $40,000 of income from taxation. That extra cash can now be funneled into employee bonuses, wage increases, job creation, and business expansion. These measures will further bolster Arizona’s pro-business, pro-growth reputation.

According to a report by BMO Financial Group, Arizona’s business environment is already strong. While most state economies are expected to grow by an average of 2.2 percent, Arizona anticipates 2.8 percent growth in 2018. The tax cuts package will only accelerate that advancement.

In fact, we are already seeing some positive results in the state. Arizona-based YAM Worldwide announced it will be giving out $1.3 million in bonuses to its employees. Furthermore, over 1,000 JPMorgan Chase employees in Arizona will receive wage hikes or bonuses as part of the companies nationwide $20 billion, five-year plan to invest back into the country.

In addition, a report from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation found the bill will create almost 6,500 jobs in the state.

These must be the “crumbs” Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats scoffed at while trying to explain away the benefits resulting from tax relief. For some, these “crumbs” represent eased rent worries, the ability to afford childcare or help with the skyrocketing costs of healthcare.

The examples chronicled above are only a small piece of the benefits the tax bill has induced. Imagine the impacts Arizona will feel a year from now.

Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R) is the Chair of the Arizona House Ways and Means Committee and represents the 23rd House District