Goldwater Institute: Who Is Really Responsible for Teacher Pay?

by Matthew Simon

West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona have all been mired in a teacher pay debate, but one question is rarely asked or answered: Who is really responsible for teacher pay?

In states across the country, the clamoring for increased pay has been well-coordinated, and the demands are costly. Teachers in West Virginia left their classroom posts for nine days, and teachers in Oklahoma rounded out their first week out of the classroom. Teachers in West Virginia returned to their classrooms after receiving a 5 percent pay increase and teachers in Oklahoma still walked out of their classrooms after receiving an average increase in pay of $6,100, demanding that it be $10,000. In Arizona, this has been dubbed the #RedforED movement. Teachers in one school district shut down nine schools in a coordinated “sickout,” and more are purportedly planned to come. Arizona Educators United and the Arizona Education Association have outlined demands in order not to abandon their classrooms, which was agreed to under their contract. Among these demands include a 20 percent teacher pay raise, which could cost Arizona taxpayers approximately $680 million in the first year alone, not including the annual inflation adjustment. Their total funding demands, according to some estimates, reach into the $5 billion figure.

The debate over teacher pay reached new heights in Arizona when the Legislature passed a 2.12 percent teacher pay increase over two years on top of all of the other funding put into schools in 2017. This pay raise was outside the norm and is not how schools are funded in Arizona. It created cumbersome language to ensure that the dollars went to the intended recipient. Not only was this just bad policy because the state doesn’t fund teachers (it funds students), but also because it reinforced this idea that state lawmakers dictate what teachers’ salaries are.

What is far too often left out of the conversation are locally elected school district governing boards. These independently elected governing boards wield considerable power in their positions by creating policies, crafting school district budgets and setting teacher pay. Collectively, these school district governing boards allocated over $8.7 billion during the 2017 school year. Because of this local management of dollars, the Classroom Spending Report produced by the Auditor General becomes increasingly informative. The Auditor General puts school districts into operational efficiency peer groups by the size, type, and geographic location of school districts.

According to the 2017 report, Tempe Elementary School District (TESD) and Alhambra Elementary School District (AESD) were in the same operational peer group. Both served a similar number of students, and they are elementary districts in urban areas. However, when you look at teacher pay and revenues generated per student, it becomes clear how local decisions can have a huge impact on teacher pay. TESD received, on average, 25 percent more per pupil than AESD but paid its teachers almost 30 percent less, on average.

TESD AESD
Students 11,049 12,524
Schools 21 14
Per Pupil $11,512 $8,562
Teacher Ratio 15.1 20.6
Avg. Years 9.3 10.4
Teacher Pay $40,899 $58,362

This isn’t the only example. Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) has been the subject of much media attention. In fact, one of the teachers within the school district posted her pay stub on social media. Her annual salary: $35,490. How could a teacher with nearly 10 years of experience and a school district that receives $10,501 per pupil be paid so little? It becomes even harder to comprehend when compared to Gilbert Unified School District (GUSD). Again, the Auditor General put these two school districts in the same operational peer group. GUSD received 16.9 percent less per pupil than PVUSD, but it was able to pay its teachers 5.5 percent more.

PVUSD GUSD
Students 30,741 33,808
Schools 44 40
Per Pupil $10,501 $8,720
Teacher Ratio 17.4 17.8
Avg. Years 12.7 11.9
Teacher Pay $48,299 $51,125

And just to make the point abundantly clear, Balsz Elementary School District (Balsz) and Tolleson Elementary School District (Tolleson) show a similar trend. Tolleson receives 24.5 percent less than Balsz per pupil, but it is able to pay its teachers, on average, 13 percent more.

Balsz Tolleson
Students 2,315 2,980
Schools 5 4
Per Pupil $11,998 $9,049
Teacher Ratio 17.7 19.6
Avg. Years 8.9 9.6
Teacher Pay $44,954 $51,705

If Arizona teachers and the public have a gripe with elected officials, the elected officials they should be targeting with this anger need to be their locally elected school district governing boards. The comparisons make it clear: It’s about how those dollars are spent. When a school district governing board prioritizes teacher pay, teacher pay is higher. If the Legislature were to meet the multi-billion dollar demands of #RedforED, there is no guarantee that those dollars would get where they were intended to go. Instead, these teachers and the public should be attending their local school district governing board meetings, examining their budgets, and holding them accountable.

This article can be read here.

Matthew Simon is the director of education policy at the Goldwater Institute. 

Meet Commissioner Justin Olson

Last October, Governor Doug Ducey appointed Justin Olson to the Arizona Corporation Commission in confidence that he would serve with ethics and integrity.

Since his appointment, Olson has enacted rate reductions that have lowered our electric bills. He has a long history in Arizona and really cares about serving ratepayers. He’s passionate about tax policy and is already bringing the kind of tax savings home to us.

Justin Olson is able to do this because he brings experience and expertise that the commission has never had before. He earned an MBA from ASU and understands business and finance. Olson also served in the Arizona Legislature where he worked to balance the budget without increasing debt, using gimmicks or raising our taxes.

Justin Olson is a true conservative who is looking out for Arizonans. After viewing this video you will see why he is the real deal and is acting in our best interests. Olson represents us and is sincerely looking out for Arizona ratepayers.

If you’d like to learn more about Commissioner Olson, check out his website at votejustinolson.com

Dick Foreman: Getting back to basics in public education

By Dick Foreman

When it comes to education basics, the seas are not just getting choppy, they’ve been choppy and seem to be getting worse. One has to wonder, after all these years of research, student data, and models of reform from all 50 states to compare to, what is really working? Have we even addressed our most basic needs?

Have we figured out this “parent choice” thing yet?

ABEC is proud to not only represent business, community and education voices, but also traditional public as well as public charter schools. We realize and support, a system of parent choice that preserves opportunities for school children of every age. Indeed, many education reforms begin with “choice.” But we must also remember that the choice by design or default of the vast majority of Arizona parents remains the traditional public school. Quite simply, Arizona families both want and expect their neighborhood schools to be both excellent choices and safe neighborhood assets. There is no rocket science engaged in this deduction. You can arrive at this conclusion not only by what school parents most often choose for their children to attend but how they buy and sell their families most precious asset, their homes.

But today, education in Arizona suffers for at least three very basic reasons.

Dick Foreman

Dick Foreman

First, the choice parents make should be based on opportunity, not failure. Some policymakers believe that the best accountability for a failing public school is to close it or abandon it. But just on the taxpayer side of things alone, stranding their assets based on the choice of a few parents is a poor calculation. In fact, it permits a catastrophic result for both children and the property values of the entire community. Making matters worse, state policies that enable increasing disparities in state education funding formulas coupled with the increased erosion of public funds through targeted tax credits is a strategy for destabilization, not student achievement or respect for choice.

Making matters worse, responsibility is dodged. When parental concerns for quality are raised, a “buyer beware” approach to selecting schools is suggested. At the accountability zenith of this policy is a traditional public or charter school whose doors are shuttered. We should never accept the failure of a public school, and we should never celebrate this heart-breaking news as an accountability. After all, the reasons for this failure were not molecularly connected to the brick and mortar!

Secondly, we know what best enables student achievement. Simply put, it is the teacher that matters. It has always been the teacher. And it will likely always be the teacher. Here’s how Kata Mihaly, economist for the Rand Corporation who specializes in using econometric modeling to assess educational achievement, puts it:

“When it comes to student performance on reading and math tests, a teacher is estimated to have two to three times the impact of any other school factor, including services, facilities, and even leadership.”

Getting bogged down in school leadership models, lawsuits over capital facilities, competition or engaged but selective parent choice as the drivers of achievement will not address Arizona student needs. It will, at best, address some student needs. And that’s not good enough for 1.1 million Arizona school children. And it is not good enough for taxpayers.

What is good enough?

Simply stated, it’s keeping a qualified teacher in position for as long a period of time as is possible. The teacher and their skills remain the single greatest barometer of student achievement that can be measured.

Third, the single greatest predictor of student success remains demographics. If a student lives in poverty, their lack of achievement is indeed predictable and unacceptable. But can this be addressed by policy? Of course, it can. In fact, 43 states have added a “poverty weight” to their school funding formulas to do just that, including Arizona. But unfortunately, Arizona has very limited application in this respect (largely, a limited weight for 3rd Grade reading).

Here is an interesting data point on this failure from Diane Ravitch’s Blog of March 1, 2018:
*Students in the South and Southwest face a “double disadvantage” because their states provide low funding with no boost in funding for high poverty districts. States with flat or regressive funding include … Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico in the Southwest.

*Only a few states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Wyoming, provide high levels of school funding and distribute more funding to their high poverty districts. Notably, New Jersey and Massachusetts are the top performing states on student outcomes.”

Perhaps there is wisdom in getting back to the basics.

How about we work with policymakers to lay down the swords of philosophical agendas and work together to positively address the real basics? First, let’s respect all public education choices and resist creating winners and losers. Parent involvement and choice should always be encouraged but not confused as a necessary antecedent to student achievement overall. Secondly, let’s encourage maintaining a highly trained, long-term teaching workforce in Arizona’s classrooms. And thirdly, let’s recognize poverty as the single greatest indicator of student achievement and do something about it in the school funding formula.

NOTE: Dick Foreman is president & CEO of ABEC.  To contact, please send him an e-mail.
 
 ABOUT ABEC

The Arizona Business and Education Coalition (ABEC) is the coalition of Arizona business and education leaders committed to helping create public education policy essential to a vibrant, growing Arizona economy. The coalition is a 501(c)(3), non-partisan, statewide membership organization focused on K-12 public education while recognizing the importance of early childhood development, post-secondary education and workforce development.

Frosty Taylor: Republicans Who Vote By Proxy Need Not Apply

By Calamity June

Early Monday morning, readers of Frosty Taylor’s Fake News were treated to a yet another truth-deprived rant. Fresh off of her attacks on hard-working PCs and foreign-born Republicans, Frosty has created yet another fake enemy at which to direct her ire: PCs who vote by proxy at Republican statutory meetings.

That’s right…at a time when leftwing billionaire Tom Steyer is pouring tens of millions of dollars into our state, when we are less than two months from a crucial special election in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, and when Washington liberals are already plotting to impeach our President, Frosty continues to insist on finding insignificant issues that are only meant to divide Republicans. In the case of proxy voting, the legislation being championed by Frosty is a solution without a problem.

It would be difficult to make a point-by-point refutation of the Fake News contained in Frosty’s rant; on the whole, the entire piece is flawed by half-truths, personal attacks, and outright lies. But there are a few areas that must be addressed:

  • Frosty claims that some PCs carry “40 or 50 proxies” to state and LD meetings. This is not just a lie, it is demonstrably false according to Frosty’s own analysis. Last year, Frosty provided a table of how many proxies were carried in each legislative district, so she of all peoples should know how many proxies could have been carried by one individual PC.  Given the rules governing proxies, it is literally impossible for any one PC to carry 40 proxies, let alone 50. Frosty surely knows this, yet perpetuates this lie, anyway. The definition of Fake News.
  • Next, Frosty may find proxies objectionable, but she certainly isn’t immune to using them herself, nor are her allies. While she was not elected to the State Committee, she did attend a special meeting to replace Steve Montenegro in LD 13.  She carried 7 proxies. Archie Dickinson, the author of the anti-proxy resolution, carried 7 at the Mandatory Meeting. Timothy Schwartz, who testified in favor of the legislation and “begged” the legislature to intervene, carried 5. Marianne Ferrari, the author of the failed “Recall Lines” movement, did not attend the Mandatory Meeting, but sent in a proxy to represent her. So much hypocrisy, but again not surprising.
  • Frosty compares voting by proxy to ballot harvesting, the practice of collecting unlimited ballots from voters. This is a completely false analogy and even a woman as woefully uninformed as Frosty should know this. Ballot harvesting was objectionable because of the potential for abuse and election fraud. Not to mention the fact that Arizona voters have 4 full weeks in which they may cast their ballots. County and State meetings, by contrast, are on Saturdays; practicing Jewish Republicans, families with children, as well as others, may find it impossible to attend a Saturday meeting. Given her past attacks of Mormon and foreign-born Republicans, perhaps it is no surprise that Frosty would object to Jews having a voice within our Party.
  • And finally, Frosty goes on to attack the current AZGOP party leadership, an ongoing pattern of hers after her multiple failed attempts to defeat popular chairman Jonathan Lines. Frosty strongly backed Lines’ opponent, Jim O’Connor, in 2017. She was a fierce proponent of the ill-fated recall effort last summer. And earlier this year, she gave voice to a quixotic and unsuccessful attempt to remove Chairman Lines at the AZGOP Mandatory Meeting. Her lies include accusations of “secrecy…financial questions…controlled elections.” All of these attacks are, of course, baseless and amount to nothing more than so many sour grapes. Frosty lost, and now she’s throwing a fit that she can’t change the outcome of the election. Get over it.

As Frosty’s readership continues to dwindle, Republicans are rallying behind our strong GOP candidates and our successful State Party. True conservatives are standing strong for lower taxes, and fighting back against the far left who are trying to buy our state. As we enter the election season, we once again must tune out the lies of the Fake News media…and that continues to include Fake News Frosty Taylor.

Tempe’s Prop 404 – What You Need To Know

Tempe Cash

Tempe’s Prop 404 isn’t an increase by $30,000,000! It’s actually an increase by $156,591,369!

Arizona Auditor General Report dated December 5, 2017.

“Permanent Base Adjustment Summary Analysis:

Pursuant to the Arizona State Constitution, the City of Tempe (City) seeks voter approval to permanently adjust the expenditure base of the City as determined by the Economic Estimates Commission. If approved by the voters, the City’s base expenditure limitation will be increased by $30,000,000, adjusted each future year for population and inflation growth since 1979-80.

With voter approval, in 2018-19, the City’s expenditure limitation will increase by $156,591,369, from $342,305,491 to $498,896,860. The City will utilize the additional expenditure authority for any local budgetary purposes including public safety (police and fire/medical rescue) expenditures; community services, parks and youth programs; community development projects; transit operations and maintenance; and pay-as-you-go capital
financing.

If approved, the additional authorized expenditures will be funded from state and local sources.”
Just one more example of the progressive socialist Tempe City Council misleading us so they can continue to increase our outrageous taxes and fees!

About the bill:

Proposition 404: Permanent base expenditure adjustment

A strong economy has grown Tempe’s revenues over the last several years, but a state-imposed ceiling puts a cap on the amount municipalities can spend on their services, facilities and amenities. For the third time since the Arizona Legislature put the ceiling in place in 1980, Tempe must ask voters to raise the limit so the city can spend the revenue it brings in. Base adjustments do not raise sales or property tax rates. All annual expenditures still go through a public process and City Council approval.

The General/Special Election is March 13. This is the first Tempe election that will be Ballot by Mail, which means that every registered voter will get a ballot in the mail. Ballots will be mailed Feb. 14. Voters who need a replacement ballot can request one through the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office until March 5; after March 5, replacement ballots are available at either of the two ballot centers in Tempe or at the Recorder’s Office. Voters can also drop off their voted ballots or vote at a ballot center. Ballots must be received by the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office or dropped off at a ballot center by 7 p.m. March 13. Maricopa County recommends that ballots be placed in the mail on or before March 7. Additional information is at http://www.tempe.gov/city- hall/city-clerk-s-office/ election-information/ballot- by-mail-elections

Any information about the election, from voter registration to finding the results, can be found at http://www.tempe.gov/city- hall/city-clerk-s-office/ election-information or by calling 480-350-4311.

By Tempe Republican Women

Mesa Councilman David Luna Needs To Hear From You!

Since this is my blog, once in a blue moon I’ll ask a point of personal privilege. On this occasion, I’m posting on a specific neighborhood issue in Mesa.

Would you rather have warehouses, restaurants, apartments or homes?

I’ve held off making this post until I’ve had some information and facts on the issue. It’s time to spread the word and take some action.

The City of Mesa stands ready to approve or reject a plan to develop single-family homes on the southwest corner of Thomas and Recker Roads. The developer, Desert Troon and Wendell Beck, have already received approval from the Mesa Planning and Zoning Board to rezone the land from multi-use to residential but the Mayor and Council must sign off on the P&Z Board’s final recommendation. That meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 5th.

Typically, when the Council hears a planning and zoning item, the council defers to the councilperson who represents the area of the proposed item. In this case, that would be Councilman David Luna.

Last week (Tuesday, February 13), I reached out to Councilman Luna’s office requesting his position on the plan to develop the Thomas and Recker parcel. I asked for his thoughts and how he intends to vote on P&Z’s recommendation. One week later, I have not heard back from Councilman Luna.

I also asked my contact at the Red Mountain Social Club if a recent visit by Councilman Luna revealed anything about his position on the property. At their meeting on February 8th, Luna said that he opposed the rezoning and prefers to see the land kept multi-use with light commercial and restaurants on the property.

During the Planning and Zoning meeting, City of Mesa’s Economic Development Director, William Jabjiniak, pushed for the area to become class A offices and warehouses. He even disclosed that he is pushing for the construction of warehousing of up to 150,000 square feet so that Mesa can attract more industry to northeast Mesa. Jabjiniak believes the Planning and Zoning Board erred in its decision to rezone the parcel to single-family residential.

I also spoke with a neighbor in Red Mountain Ranch that also confirmed Luna’s position on the rezoning and what should be built on the land.

Those opposed to rezoning the land for homes fall into two camps. A small handful of Red Mountain Ranch residents want the land to remain vacant. the City of Mesa wants to build more offices, warehouses and light industrial on the land. Multi-use also means that high-density apartments could also be built on the land. You don’t have to look far to see what happened on the southwest area of Las Sendas where townhomes, a long-term care facility and a charter school are being built.

Because the owner of the property has sat patiently for twelve years, it’s highly doubtful that the land will remain vacant. Something will be built.

I’ve spoken with the owner and confirmed that other developers have approached him about building apartments. He told me that his goal is to build single-family homes in a secure gated community. Those plans are solid and even have a name – The Villas at Red Mountain.

Villas Red Mountain

I recognize the fact that the land will be developed and there are really only two choices – multi-use or residential.

If David Luna gets his way, the southwest corner of Thomas and Recker Roads will be turned into offices, restaurants, light industrial and maybe even apartments. Like many of my neighbors in Red Mountain Ranch, I believe this is the wrong place to build out more office space and warehouses. That area remains south of the 202 as part of the Longbow plan. Incidentally, during the P&Z meeting, Jabjiniak revealed that the large concrete building across from Boeing on Higley has no tenants or prospective tenants.

The choice is clear, the Mayor and Council should approve the final recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Board. The southwest corner of Thomas and Recker Roads should be developed as a quality single-family residential community. The Mayor and Council should sign off on the development of The Villas at Red Mountain.

Now it’s your turn.

Please call, email, write or visit Councilman David Luna’s office and ask him to approve the plan to rezone the land for single-family residential. Tell Councilman Luna that you don’t want to see or hear tractor trailers and fast food squawk boxes across the street at all hours. This area is right for only one type of development and that’s a quiet high-quality community.

I’d also ask you to contact Mayor John Giles and ask him to support our quiet residential community of Red Mountain Ranch.

Again, the Mayor and Council meet on Monday, March 5th at 5:45 to hear the rezoning case. The Planning and Zoning Board made the right decision when they approved request to rezone.

Please call Councilman Luna and Mayor Giles and ask them to support the plan to rezone. Then plan on attending the council meeting at 57 E 1st Street (map) at 5:45 on Monday, March 5th.

You have less than two weeks to make your voice heard!

Councilman David Luna
(480) 644-3771
district5@mesaaz.gov

Mayor John Giles
(480) 644-2388
mayor@mesaaz.gov

For information about the plans for The Villas at Red Mountain, visit their website at VillasAtRedMountain.com.

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

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.

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

AZRA Faction Power Grab Fails Spectacularly

By Calamity June

Gabriela Saucedo Mercer

Gabriela Saucedo Mercer

Saturday morning at the Arizona GOP, the usual divisive suspects made a last-gasp effort to remove from office a popular and successful AZ GOP Chairman. This is but one of a long line of failures that a diminishing faction has attempted.

This is the same group that spearheaded the failed recall effort of chairman Lines last summer, which was the same group that unsuccessfully supported Jim O’Connor a year ago when he ran against Lines for GOP Chairman. The same group that pushes its false narratives on the pages of Frosty’s Fake News and the fever swamp blogs that she promotes.

Haters gonna hate. Losers gonna lose.

Prior to this failed attempt, State Committee members were treated to yet another temper tantrum from GOP Secretary and two-time losing candidate Gabby Mercer (starting to see a pattern here?) Mercer repeated her oft-told lie about access to records, threw invective at the Chairman and Executive Director. As has been demonstrated time and again, the responsibility to obtain the AZGOP permanent records lies with the Secretary. Mercer has failed to do her job, and every time she opens her mouth, she affirms that fact.

Jonathan Lines

Jonathan Lines

Following Mercer’s rant, Chairman Lines once again set the record straight, and then delivered his Chairman’s Report. He spoke about the work that the party is doing to get boots on the ground, register new Republicans at a staggering 55-1 advantage over the Democrats, and build a training program that has provided tools and resources to hundreds of Republican PCs.

And yet, for some reason, following that report of a successful year at the helm, obstructionist Joe Neglia, who had previously attempted to change the rules of the meeting (we’ll let you guess how that went) called for the removal of the chair.

The action was swift and decisive. There was an objection to consideration, prompting an immediate vote by division. A small, pathetic contingent centered in LD 23 rose in defense of the motion, leaving approximately 80% of the Committee standing, quite literally, in opposition.

And once again, the obstructionists, from Gabby Mercer to Joe Neglia to Tim Horn, had exposed themselves for what they really are.