Kelli Ward’s First Quarter to Forget

By Calamity June

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

It has been nearly 3 months since Kelli Ward took the helm of the Arizona Republican Party. While she’s changed the letterhead and, apparently, spent tens of thousands of dollars on a costly and unneeded renovation, her list of accomplishments sadly end there.

Instead, the robust fundraising that the party has enjoyed since 2013 has ground to a halt. According to the Arizona Republic, the party has seen the lowest 1stquarter fundraising total in 18 years, while spending has gone on unabated.

When Kelli Ward assumed the chairmanship in late January, she inherited a cash balance of approximately $500,000, and was poised to use that money to build bridges across  the various factions of the GOP.

Instead, she did what many feared she would. She chased out the staff that had led the AZGOP’s historic fundraising and organizational successes, replacing them with at least one staffer who had a history virulently racist statements; she squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars on vanity projects like a refurbished office; and has used her platform to take stances completely at odds with what thee party should be doing.

Her first public statement at chairman was a gratuitous attack on Governor Ducey. And tomorrow, she plans to hold a press conference to favor placing a tax hike on the ballot. In doing so, she is putting herself at odds with hundreds of loyal, grassroots Republicans, as well as many legislators and Republican elected officials. This is simply not the role of the Arizona Republican Party chairman.

Instead of attacking the governor or supporting an increase in taxes, perhaps Kelli Ward should spend more time improving the party’s dismal fundraising. She’ll have an opportunity to do just that at tomorrow evening’s legislative salute. Last year the Salute raised over $500,000. I’m sure Republican candidates across the state are anxiously watching whether Kelli Ward can match or exceed this number. (Spoiler Alert: She’ll do neither)

Grover Norquist, the stalwart President of Americans for Tax Reform, perhaps put it best when discussing Republicans who favor tax hikes of any kind.

“Republicans who vote for tax increases are rat heads in a Coke bottle. They damage the brand. They don’t just hurt themselves,” Norquist said.

Norquist then laid out a scenario in which “you get two thirds of the way through your bottle of Coke and there’s a rat head in what’s left of your Coke bottle.” If this happens, Norquist explained, you’re definitely not going to finish the bottle, you may never buy Coca-Cola again, and the company brand is “damaged.”

This sounds a lot like what Kelli Ward is doing to the Arizona Republican Party. On second thought, that might now be fair. To the rat. 

Phoenix taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the Suns’ arena

By Boaz Witbeck 

The Phoenix City Council is considering whether to spend $150 million in taxpayer money on a plan to renovate the Phoenix Suns’ Talking Stick Resort arena.

At a recent public meeting, supporters of the plan argued that it’s worth $150 million to keep the team downtown.

Wanting to keep our beloved Suns in Phoenix is understandable, especially with the owner at one point threatening to move the team out of the city. But a taxpayer handout isn’t the way to do it. We would all do well to listen to Phoenix resident Greta Rogers, who told the City Council last December, “We [Phoenix residents] are not in the business of paying taxes to support private enterprise.”

Ms. Rogers is right. Government should not be picking and choosing winners in the private sector. In her words, “They can support themselves or fail on their own lack of diligence.” In that spirit, we urge the City Council to reject the plan when they vote Jan. 23.

Since 2006, politicians across North America have spent $11 billion in taxpayer funds on 54 ballparks, arenas, and stadiums.

Taxpayers forked over $430 million for the Orlando Magic’s Amway Center. They paid $305 million for the Brooklyn Nets’ Barclays Center. And they’re on the hook for $250 million for the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena. The list goes on.

Most of this spending – $9.3 billion worth – occurred without any taxpayer approval.  The people footing the bill had the opportunity to vote on funding for just 15 facilities. Only eight won voter approval.

Politicians like to claim that using taxpayer funds to build or renovate arenas will stimulate the local economy. The facts, however, say otherwise. 

One study unambiguously concluded, “there is no statistically significant positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development.”

On the contrary, economics professors from the College of Holy Cross note that teams and stadiums propped up by taxpayer funding can actually choke off local economic activity. People spending money to go to games might have less money to spend at the local theater or might be deterred to go to eat out because of all the traffic from a sporting event.

Funding for stadiums can also crowd out expenditures for important public services and bust municipal budgets. Sometimes that money is wasted on arenas that sit empty. Houston’s Astrodome, which was built with $31 million in public funds and left the county millions of dollars in debt after being condemned for code violations. Despite all of this, last year Harris County approved another $105 million in taxpayer funds for renovations. The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis sits empty, leaving the taxpayers of Missouri paying $144 million in debt and upkeep costs until 2021 – in part because Los Angeles is subsidizing a new stadium for the NFL’s Rams, the team that left St. Louis.

In an ideal world, owners wouldn’t threaten to leave cities unless they get a taxpayer handout and politicians wouldn’t cave to their demands. Local officials need to always remember they’re supposed to look out for our interests.

Spending our hard-earned money on bad investments is not in our interest.

We Americans love our sports teams. But we shouldn’t allow politicians to use those attachments to benefit the well-connected at our expense.    

Boaz Witbeck is deputy state director of Americans for Prosperity-Arizona

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

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.

Congressman Andy Biggs Speaks Out on US National Debt

Thank you Congressman Andy Biggs for this statement:

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Andy Biggs commented on the U.S. national debt passing twenty trillion dollars:

“Late last week, the U.S. national debt topped twenty trillion dollars for the first time in history. Instead of debating how Congress could take action to reduce the risk of default and substantial payments our grandchildren will inherit, Congress continues to encourage reckless spending and unaccountable taxpayer-funded programs. Rather than making the hard choices now, we are forcing Americans into an even tougher situation in the future because of this rising debt.

“It will take courage to cut government spending in order to deal with our national debt. If we are to follow through with our commitment to reduce expenditures and create economic stability for our future, we must immediately take action. The time for words is over.”

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.

Republicans Pass Budget That Raises Teacher Pay by $1,000 Above Inflation

Republicans Pass Budget That Raises Teacher Pay by $1,000 Above Inflation and Invests Over $300 Million in New K-12 Spending

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-17) and Senate President Steve Yarbrough (R-17) this morning applauded passage of a budget that increases teacher pay by an average of $1,000 and adds over $300 million for K-12 education.

“Republicans in the Legislature and Governor Ducey have worked hard to craft a budget that reflects Arizonans’ top priority: education,” said Speaker Mesnard.  “This budget includes a $1,000 raise beyond inflation for public school teachers, over $300 million in new K-12 spending, a massive investment in university research facilities and infrastructure, and dozens of other provisions that boost education funding.”

“Conservative budgeting over the past few years put extra money in our state coffers,” said President Yarbrough.  “With that, this year we boosted teacher paychecks, provided funding for school repairs and the construction of six new schools, targeted tens of millions of dollars to schools getting results, guaranteed yearly funding for university building projects and provided an additional $30 million to repair our roads.  We also delivered a broad-based tax cut and left the state with a structurally-balanced budget.  I’d say the people of Arizona are better off because of this state budget.”

Highlights of the budget:

·         In addition to inflation and growth increases, directs $68 million over two years for an average $1,000 raise for public school teachers.

·         Appropriates $62.9 million for new school construction projects.

·         Provides $37.6 million for Results-Based Funding for K-12 education.

·         Offsets the impact of Prop. 206 on the developmentally disabled community by directing $45 million to the Department of Economic Security and AHCCCS.

·         Demonstrates a commitment to rural transportation by appropriating $30 million to the Highway User Revenue Fund.

·         Appropriates $27 million to provide debt service to allow universities to construct new facilities through bonding that could exceed $1 billion in value in future years.

Sal DiCiccio: $16 Million Wasted In Just One Day By City Of Phoenix

Sal DiCiccio

Last week, I wrote about the structural deficit our city is facing. Our deficit problems will continue until we make public safety our priority and cut spending in non-essential areas. On Tuesday, city staff gave a presentation regarding the budget deficit forecast. The forecast, which did not come as a surprise to me, shows our deficit continuing to grow out of control, even while we collect increased revenue.

The day after the budget deficit presentation, I voted NO on the following expenses, all of which the Phoenix City Council ultimately approved:

  • $3,668,564 to Downtown Phoenix Inc – a group that already taxes private businesses against their will to spend money on the Downtown area
  • $16,000 to National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials – annual membership fee
  • $60,000 to Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 777 to buy promotional and training material for themselves
  • $108,000 to Ballard Spahr LLP- lobbyists (this is on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars they already spent on lobbyists at the last council meeting)
  • $12,170,000 to change just 4 bus routes
  • $750,000 to join the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability

TOTAL: $16,772,564

Just during a single city council meeting, we could have cut $16 million of unnecessary spending. But instead, we continued to add to the structural deficit problems we face.

As long as we continue to spend in this manner, we will continue to see your taxpayer monies wasted. And city officials will continue to have their hand out, telling you they need to increase your taxes because they are short on revenues. They’re not. They just have a spending problem.

You have my commitment to continue to protect you, your family and your hard earned tax dollars.

My best to you,

Sal DiCiccio
Phoenix City Council
District 6

Gilbert and Chandler Place Well In Annual US City Fiscal Health Rankings

Town of GilbertCongratulations to the Town of Gilbert and City of Chandler for placing high in the annual US City Fiscal Health Index.

The index, prepared by The Fiscal Times, looks at five factors to derive the rankings including: ratio of city general fund balance to expenditures, ratio of long term obligations to total government-wide revenues, ratio of actuarially determined pension contributions to total government-wide revenues, change in local unemployment rate and changes in property values. Data is reported by the cities themselves from 2015. Only cities with populations of 200,000 were evaluated. (Tempe, Peoria, Surprise, Yuma, Avondale and Flagstaff have populations less than 200,000.)

City of ChandlerThe Town of Gilbert placed 17th while the City of Chandler placed 20th.

Other Arizona cities placed lower on the list:

Phoenix – 43
Glendale – 77
Tucson – 81
Scottsdale – 84
Mesa – 85

At the bottom of the list were Chicago and New York City.

To view the full index, click here.